Hometown: Erie, PA
Current Town: Brooklyn
Q: Tell me about < the invisible draft >
I first started daydreaming about doing a project based on Calvino's book almost four years ago. When I first thought about the piece, I believed it was an art installation with some meandering actors or puppeteers of installation pieces not unlike Punchdrunk's Tunnel 228 which was in an old Tube station in London a couple years ago. About a year and half ago, I started writing and suddenly a lot of text started to congeal around the same set of ideas and then move further away from Calvino's book. Voice & Vision Theater, headed by Jean Wagner, has been incredibly supportive as I've developed this, my first play. Jean suggested I take a class with playwright Lisa d'Amour and then set me up with Saviana Stanescu through V&V's new mentorship program. These are both artists whom I admire and respect tremendously whose input on the show has been invaluable.
Q: What else are you working on?
A: This show has been pretty much consuming my time in the last couple weeks, but I have a some other ideas which are itching to get out. One of them has to do with color theory and Schubert, which is all I want to say about it just yet! I'll be headed up to Vermont for the last week of performance at Bread and Puppet Theater this summer after
Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.
A: I first got into theater when I was about nine and my brother Sam, who is now puppeteering in my show, was an Oompa Loompa in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" at the Erie Playhouse. I went to see the show and spent the time really jealous that I wasn't onstage and humming along with Willy Wonka's song "A Touch of Magic". I had a huge crush on Willy Wonka and then auditioned with my brother for "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" a couple months later and have been hooked ever since. I'm not sure what that story says about me, but I think it is funny!
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: I would make it less expensive-I think as humans we need art, we need forms of expression and play which theater makes available in a unique way. When this medium is inaccessible due to cost, I think audiences disengage, the work suffers, and we all miss out on an opportunity to come together as a community and participate in a ritual of culture, which helps us to digest our world and lives on several levels.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: Samuel Beckett, JoAnne Akalaitis, Mabou Mines, Dario Fo, Dimiter Gotscheff, Christoff Marthaler, the woman who played Emilia Galotti in Thalmeier's production, the list goes on...
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: I am most excited by watching theater in languages I don't entirely understand. Or understand near fluently, but not quite. It opens you up to rhythms and the musicality of the stage, the imagery in a different way; I think differently when not using English and that has the possibility of making me more acutely aware of some visceral responses which sometimes I ignore. This is also part of my interest in highly physical clown and puppet theater. I like the experience to be immersive in some way, whether or not that means you walk around and interact with the players is irrelevant.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Write a lot, dream a lot, and don't be afraid to ask questions of just about anyone. Both seek things out and let them come to you. That's what I tell myself anyway! Any advice for me?
Q: Plugs, please: