Friday, December 23, 2011
I Interview Playwrights Part 414: Jerome Parker
Jerome A. Parker
Hometown: The South Bronx, NY
Current Town: Brooklyn, NY
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Two musical projects. One is based on an opera and had a reading at the Public this summer. I'm spending the next months working on the music for that piece. The other is an actual opera - a jazz, opera - that I'm working on with some composer friends that I met while I was in LA. Also, I'm very into the web and the possibilities that come with viewing theater online. I just found out how easy it was to execute and I'm itching to start something on a more regular basis.
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 grew up on the top floor of an apartment building. From my windows I could see Yankee stadium in the distance that would light up when games were being played or fireworks displayed. I felt as though we lived in a penthouse and that the fireworks were celebrating something that had to do with me and my family. Anyway, my brother is, and has always been, a DJ and would spend hours mixing music and making tapes/samples. He would be in the zone, and I would be found sitting in his room, staring out the window with music washing over me, thinking about my future. My brother, my family, music, my childhood, and being in the zone all influence me as both a writer and a person.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: One thing...?
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: As a young theater maker I devoured everything by Pinter, O'Neill, Genet and Sondheim. And I've never turned down a book by Baldwin, Morrison, Genet and D.H. Lawrence.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: The last great play I saw was Jerusalem. It was epic, the characters were grimy and smart, lots of storytelling within the story, and Mark Rylance - wow ! - a force of nature. I try to stay away from timid, safe plays and love plays that push the form in some way. The first great new play I saw: Our Lady of 121st Street. That one and King Hedley II made me want to become a playwright.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Get it done, rewrite, apply! And then start all over again. Invest in your future now. The one play of mine I've yet to see/hear, is the one that opened lots of doors for me as a writer. It's epic with grimy, smart characters: Miracle on Monroe.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: The Fire This Time Festival - January 19th - 25th @ the Kraine Theater. My play, DIG, directed by LA Williams, will be featured. It's a short story of a homicide detective obsessed by one of his cases: an under-aged, street walker named Indigo.