Monday, September 19, 2011
I Interview Playwrights Part 383: Deborah Brevoort
Hometown: Juneau, Alaska
Current Town: North Bergen, NJ (New York City, really…)
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Crossing Over, a hip-hop musical set in Amish Country, with composer Stephanie Salzman. The Comfort Team, a new play about military spouses, commissioned by Virginia Stage Company; Steal a Pencil for Me, a holocaust opera based on the book of the same title, with composer Gerald Cohen; and Embedded, a one act opera inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, with composer Patrick Soluri.
I’m finishing up the above four projects and am starting to do research on two new plays that will be set during the Revolutionary War period: Campfollowers, about the battle of the sexes between George Washington and the wives of his troops at Valley Forge, and another play about Martha Washington, for Virginia Stage.
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 was born into a family of singers. My parents performed in a Gilbert and Sullivan opera company; my brothers were musically talented. I was tone deaf. I write, because I cannot sing.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: I would make it illegal for any non-profit theatre company to extract future percentages, (i.e., participate in the future earnings) from the new works they produce. They get tax exempt status to do this and it hurts playwrights. Plus, the practice is just plain wrong.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: Tennessee Williams; Lorraine Hansberry; Paula Vogel; David Greenspan; Charles Ludlum, Stephen Sondheim.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: Virtuosic theatre. Theatre that is bold, theatrical, daring, moving, ruthless and inventive. I love theatre that makes use of style and form. I’m not a huge fan of naturalism or realism, but then again, Lorraine Hansberry is on my list of heroes. But she was ruthless (You know what? I just love theatre—in any style--if it’s done really well!)
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Don’t give up. It’s the most discouraging thing you could ever choose to do, but it’s possible to make a way in the world for yourself and to cobble together a living. We have enough businessmen and bankers in this country. We need artists. We need you. So write. And don’t stop. Ever.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: If you’re an opera buff, come see Embedded, my Poe opera on Nov. 10 at the De Menna Center for Classical Music.
If you’re in Spain, go see my play The Women of Lockerbie in the Catalan language (Les Dones de Lockerbie) in a wonderful production by Teatre la Dependent in Carcaixent at the Teatre Don Enrique.
And if you’re in Denmark, go see The Poetry of Pizza at the Kalundborg Theatre Society in Kalundborg
Final plug: The Comfort Team will open the Virginia Stage season in Sept 2012, so if you’re in Norfolk, don’t miss it!