Sep 18, 2011
I Interview Playwrights Part 382: Robert Askins
Hometown: Cypress, Texas
Current Town: Brooklyn, NY
Q: Tell me about your show coming up at EST.
A: I wrote this play called Hand to God. It’s about a Christian Puppet Ministry. It’s kind of a horror/sex/religious/comedy/grief play. Margery, played by Geneva Carr, runs the puppet club and her son, played by Steve Boyer, is the star. A while back her husband and his father died. They ain’t doing to well with it. The boy Jason is trying to be good but starts acting out with the puppet. Margey is trying to keep it together too but then bad boy in the club starts making passes at her and… well the puppet gets possessed and… I ain’t gonna spoil it but there’s blood and sex and a burning church.
Q: What else are you working on?
A: I wrote a post-apocalyptic kind of Lord of the Rings, kind of Wizard of Oz thing. It’s called Pig Shit and the Frozen City. I’m doing a reading of it this Sunday with Jose Zayas at E.S.T. I’m working on a musical called Dave Koresh Super-Star. I also am putting together a psychopharm coming of age story called Adderal tm.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: Rent. Real Estate is expensive. Manhattan is stupid. If we was somewhere else where the theatres didn’t cost so much to build run or rent we could do more shows and try more things and make more shit we didn’t know would be good and then the surprise hits would feed an energy and maybe theatre would be on fire again.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: I love Sarah Kane. Edward Albee made me want to do this. My Aunt Sally is amazing she builds puppets in Waco, Texas and keeps going it in spite of it all.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: Genre mixing high wire acts. Sexy violent dangerous work. Stuff that ain’t been work shopped to death. Plays with a pulse. I want to be there where the feeling is. The feeling that made me want to get into this. That feeling like you don’t know what’s gonna happen and everything is up in the air and if we can just get to the next scene everything is gonna explode, fly apart in the best possible way.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Write. Write. Write. Don’t think too much. Don’t plan too much. Take classes from playwrights. Take what you can and then write. You gotta write through your shit. Write through your influences. Write through what you know is hot and keep on writing. Don’t look at the success around you. Don’t look at who is getting the money or praise. When you sit down try and empty the barrel. It is you and the page my friend. You and the page. If you make it great. If they like it great. But in the end you’re writing for you kid and you better be loving what you do.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: Come see Hand To God. Opening October 24th Closing November 19st at the Ensemble Studio Theatre.
We’re reading Pig Shit and the Frozen City at EST tomorrow Sunday September 18 @ 6 o’clock with my group Write Club.
On the October 8 I will be doing the first episode of my site-specific brunch serial called All the Little Fishes about working at a Greek restaurant at the Greek restaurant I work at. There will be food and unlimited champagne. The restaurant is Kellari Taverna 44 between 5 & 6 avenues.
Also right now I’m acting in The Tenant with The Woodshed Collective. It is great site-specific fun.
And I have a part in a webseries called The Share written by Emily Chaddick Wiess. Look for that soon.