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1000 Playwright Interviews The first interview I posted was on June 3, 2009.  It was Jimmy Comtois.  I decided I would start interview...

Jan 30, 2011

I Interview Playwrights Part 311: Charlotte Meehan

Charlotte Meehan

Hometown: New York City (from 20 on); Connecticut, New Jersey, Long Island on a rotating basis from birth to 20.

Current Town: Sharon, MA

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I’m working on a play called Real Realism that I’ve been gearing up to write for two years now. This “gear-up” has involved keeping a list of lines heard in my daily life, dropping in on internet gossip chat rooms, reading very bad dollar store books and supermarket tabloids, and god-knows-what else. The play shows characters tangled in a string of non-sequiturs from which they cannot emerge due to a compulsion to respond to anything said with whatever thought that randomly appears regarding their own immediate need.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  Oh boy. That’s a can of worms. Suffice it to say that my father was a leader in the John Birch Society and my parents were pre-Vatican II die-hard Catholics who refused to change with the times when the Church became a kinder, gentler religion complete with guitar strumming and the Mass spoken in English. The effect this has had on me as both writer and person is that I have developed a mutinous soul and find the restraints of form quite irritating and sometimes even insupportable.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  I don’t want to change theatre (aside from the hope that my own plays contribute something new), but would love to see the American theatre establishment expand its scope. There are so many necessary, exciting plays being written that deserve a place on the large stages of our country. It would be my dream come true to see producers invite their audiences in for conversation with playwrights whose works challenge the status quo formally, politically, and aesthetically. I have experienced such conversation with Trinity Repertory Company’s top donors and, believe me, we are lucky to have the support of such serious theatre goers who deserve to be presented with the full array of brilliant writers working in the contemporary theatre.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Then: The Greeks and Samuel Beckett.
Now: Mac Wellman and Hélène Cixous.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I want to be surprised, dragged through the mud, moved to tears, unable to sleep that night, made to laugh until my stomach hurts, and most of all I want to leave the theatre in a state of bewilderment. Caryl Churchill’s The Skriker, Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, a small rickety production of Ionesco’s The Chairs, Mac Wellman’s Antigone, James Scruggs’ Disposable Men, Joseph Chaikin’s Firmament, Pina Bausch’s Palermo! Palermo! and countless other works have excited me enough to want to live forever. I have experienced many art exhibitions as theatre too, and love theatre that incorporates the visual as more than illustration. Bill T. Jones’ recent dance theatre piece, Serenade/The Proposition, is an example of total theatre that makes me swoon.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Work hard. Read a lot. Go to the theatre all the time. Have more ambition for your developing aesthetic than for worldly success. Make friends with directors you respect. Send your plays to theatres that produce the kind of work you like. Be true to your own voice.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  My new play, Crazy Love, a cross between Noel Coward’s line drawing comedies and François Truffaut’s Jules et Jim, is madly funny and awaiting production. Should anyone reading this interview be interested to read it, please visit: http://www.charlottemeehan.com/contact.html and I will send you off a copy.

Jan 28, 2011

I Interview Playwrights Part 310: Marisela Treviño Orta

Marisela Treviño Orta

Lockhart, Texas. The BBQ capital of the state, thank you very much.

Current Town:
San Francisco, California.

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  Several things, all in various stages of development. I often think it’s like plate spinning (there’s a visual for you). Late last year I finished up rewrites on my play Woman on Fire, a re-telling of Sophocles’ Antigone set along the U.S./Mexico border. I’m now in the process of sending it out (so cross your fingers).

This year I decided to create a work plan  for myself to keep all my projects moving and so far it’s working. At the moment I’m in the middle of rewrites for my play Heart Shaped Nebula.

Heart Shaped Nebula is a play very close to me. I say that because there’s so much I love in that play: science, astronomy, Greek mythology and half of it takes place in the Texas town I lived in before I moved to California.

Later this year I’m going to shift gears to work on a series of “grimm” Latino fairy tales.

Q:  You were a poet for many years, how did you transition to playwriting?

A:  I fell into theatre while working on my MFA in Poetry at USF. I joined El Teatro Jornalero! (Day Laborer’s Theatre) as their Resident Poet. ETJ! was comprised of Latino immigrants and they focused on developing social justice plays.

I started hanging out at their rehearsals because I found their physical exercises inspiring and my poetry muse need to be fed. I wrote poetry, took pictures and ended up becoming a sort of Girl Friday for the theatre. Meaning, I designed programs for their play, then started recording their performances and even once ran a rehearsal.

After a year of watching them develop and write a play, I got curious about playwriting. Luck would have it that just as playwriting was beginning to pique my interest, playwright Christine Evans came to USF. Christine came to teach an introduction to playwriting course and collaborate with ETJ!. I took Christine’s class and with her encouragement submitted my first play, Braided Sorrow, to the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. That was in 2005. After participating in the festival I started to think of myself as a poet and a playwright. But some time around 2006 I began to work almost exclusively on plays.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  It’s two stories actually. They’re different sides of the same coin.

In one I’m a first grader telling my parents the kids at school can’t pronounce my name. “What do they call you?” my mother asks. I reply, “Marcy,” like the Peanuts character. It’s a lie. I want to fit in and that’s the name I wish they’d call me. My mother questions me further and I feel that something is not right. That my desire to fit in, to nonchalantly take on a new name, is somehow a wrong to my parents and to myself.

The second story is a woman, an acquaintance of my parents, who asks them, “Why doesn’t she speak Spanish?” Still a child I internalize this, I interpret the question as “Why has she chosen not to speak Spanish?” I feel inadequate.

As a third generation Mexican American I spent my adolescence coming to terms with how I straddle two cultures, how I exist in a liminal zone between the two. I came to understand the power of names, of language. My experience isn’t unique. I grew up with scores of friends in school and college who shared the same cultural experience and awareness.

As a writer I’ve used poetry and plays to continue my exploration of cultural identity. I ventured into playwriting specifically to write about social justice issues that affect the Latino community. Since then my work has evolved. Now the plays I’m working on explore other interest areas (science, mythology, folklore), but one thing remains the same about my plays.

Actually it’s two things.

Almost all my characters are Latino and the majority are women. I think we all write ourselves into our plays, consciously and unconsciously. For example, you could say my characters have “less-than-common names” (Soraya, Miqueo, Yolot, Septimo, Dalila, Lalo), like me. I’m very intentional about character names. I guess it’s a way of honoring my own.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  My first theatre hero was Christine Evans. Taking her class is what got me excited about theatre and the possibility of playwriting.

I also take great inspiration from Christine’s work as a playwright. Her work is visually striking, poetic and often political—all things I strive for in my own work. Other playwrights whose work I greatly admire include: Sarah Kane, Jose Rivera, Marcus Gardley, Julie Herbert, Bertolt Brecht, Suzan-Lori Parks, Octavio Solis, Federico Garcia Lorca and Euripides.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  As a poet and as a playwright I’m very image-driven. Therefore I’m excited by theatre that takes into account the entire sensory experience that theatre is. I especially love theatre that doesn’t reign in its imagination, but rather lets it run loose on the stage.

And I love the idea of the emotional world of the play impacting the physical world. I wouldn’t call it Magical Realism, but rather moments of magic and wonder.

There’s something spectacular about live theatre. When you’re watching television or a movie you know they’re using CGI or editing to create moments of magic, but in theatre it happens right before your eyes. In a time when we’re all very desensitized to the world around us, it’s those theatrical moments that tap into my own child-like sense of wonder. I think that’s an amazing gift.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  I think you blogged about this subject once and reading that post was really helpful to me, especially your first point: it can take 10 years for your career to start moving. That was like lifting a weight off my shoulders.

As for my own advice, I recommend developing a yearly work plan. Give yourself monthly goals, year-long goals and then map out the work you want to accomplish each month. And don’t forget to give yourself deadlines for those goals. I’m finding it very useful for keeping myself on track. Like many artists, I have a full-time job, so carving out time for writing is a challenge and I’m finding that the work plan is helping me move all my projects forward and I have a better sense of the overall big picture of my work. My work plan includes both writing goals and lists out all the places I want to send my plays, i.e. festivals, theatres.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  I definitely want to give a shout out to theatre here in the Bay Area. We have such a varied and exciting scene with theatres of all size from large regional stages to scrappy companies that are barely a few years old. Some of the theatres I frequent include: Crowded Fire, The Cutting Ball Theater, Impact Theatre, Magic Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Shotgun Players, and Sleepwalkers Theatre.

Also I have to say there are some wonderful organizations that support playwrights here in the Bay Area, including: Playwrights Foundation (where I’m one of several Resident Playwrights ); Playground (which has a writers pool of 36 playwrights); and Theatre Bay Area.

Lastly, I want to plug the playwright community out here. I’ve always found my fellow playwrights to be very supportive and open. For the past few years I’ve been co-hosting the Bay Area Playwrights Pub Night with playwright Tim Bauer.

A few years ago we came to the realization that despite the best intentions we never had the wherewithal after a show to go get drinks and catch up. So we decided to dedicate an evening to just hanging out. And we thought inviting all the playwrights we know would be a great way to keep tabs on one another’s work. Now the pub night happens about 3 to 4 times a year and we rotate through the city—each pub night in a different pub in a different neighborhood. Our first pub night for the year will be February 26th at Valley Tavern in Noe Valley. If you’re reading this and you’re in the Bay Area, come on out, the invite is open to all playwrights and theatre peeps.

Jan 27, 2011

I Interview Playwrights Part 309: Quiara Alegria Hudes

Quiara Alegria Hudes

Hometown: Philadelphia. West Philadelphia, to be precise. But I have a foot in many Philly neighborhoods including North Philly (el barrio, where my cousins live) and South Philly (the Italian Market, where my aunt and uncle work and live) and Malvern (the burbs) where I lived on a horse farm for a few years.

Current Town: New York.

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I'm wrestling through act 2 of a new musical adaptation. It's based on the Mexican novel Like Water for Chocolate, written by Laura Esquivel. It's hot and romantic and very sensual. It's a highly theatrical piece so I have to think visually as well as with my literary brain. I've been writing it standing up for that reason. It helps. I am also gearing up to "bake off" the first draft of a new play. It will be the final installment of my "Elliot Trilogy," begun with Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue. It's a play about nostalgia and sentimentality, with Puerto Rican folk music interspersed throughout. So far I've double-dared one other writer to create a first draft on the same deadline with me. I'll order beer and pizza and we'll read our new drafts aloud at the end of February.

Q:  Tell me about Welcome To My Neighborhood.

A:  In 2005 I wrote a 10-minute play for People's Light and Theatre. The task at hand was to write about Philadelphia for their gala celebration. I find 10 minute plays difficult in terms of plot and character. There's not enough time for me to explore. So I created a tone poem of sorts, alphabetized, about the alphabetic streets of el barrio in North Philly. I thought it would make a good children's book, and Arthur Levine at Scholastic agreed. They published it in August with meditative illustrations by Shino Arihara.

Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  Half my childhood stories stem from SEPTA, Philly's public transportation system. I was always shuttling from school to Aunt Alice's to Abuela's to piano lessons to Quaker meeting to the Art Museum (free admission on Sundays). There are buses, an el, a few subway lines, trains, and trolleys in Philly, and I knew them all and I rode them all frequently. They came infrequently and they took a long time and so my imagination would just run wild while I sat there. I'd stare out the window, watching the neighborhoods change block-by-block, like shifting DNA. Row homes, mansions, juvenile detention centers, parks. I saw a man puke on the trolley, I saw a young women be verbally abused by her boyfriend on a bus, I myself received my favorite all-time love note (from my future husband, then boyfriend) on the Broad Street Line. One time I was on the trolley and for some reason the brakes didn't work and we SLAMMED into the trolley in front of us. Everyone flew out of their seats onto the floor, and though no one was hurt, two people yelled out, "I'm calling Allen Rothenberg!" simultaneously and then everyone burst out into laughter and applause. That's probably the most Philly story I could tell.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  1. Productions would last forever. They'd never close. And the best, most electric, most on performance would be what everyone saw each night, and what every performer experienced each night. So tonight, for instance, I could've said to my daughter, "Let's go catch Zero Mostel's closing night performance as Tevye." (In reality I showed her the DVD track of "Tradition.") 2. I'd create a time-machine device so that any audience member could go back in time and hear the first draft of a play they love or are confused by, read aloud around a table in a blind reading--that is, the actors have never read the play. There is something so magical, so raw and unhinged about first drafts and first reads. Before the polish and intellect take over. When it's a piece of writing from the gut. 3. I'd be a fly on the wall of every playwright I love for one day. I'd spy on how Mamet and Sorkin and Churchill pace, type, handwrite, and eat banana nut muffins. 4. High school students would read and study classics, but they'd produce and perform their original works and the works of their classmates.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Paula Vogel has an incredible amount of knowledge about theater, surpassed only by her child-like love of play and her pure pure writing. I wish I could turn a phrase or imagine a scene like Sarah Ruhl, Rajiv Joseph, or Annie Baker. I just read a play by a writer named J.C. Lee which convinced me that science fiction can not only work onstage, but can make me cry like a baby. I love Franz Xaver Kroetz's play Through the Leaves. August Wilson: he's so decadent and he marched to the beat of his own drum without wavering. I'd love to take Jose Rivera to lunch one day and ask him a lot of questions about writing and life.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Theater that makes me laugh, cry, furious, embarrassed. The only sensation I hate in the theater (and in life) is boredom. Don't give me middle of the road. Give me a strong point of view. (My least favorite writing that I've done is in plays where I didn't swing for the fences enough.) I like poor theater. Overly literal sets always strike me as lost opportunities. I also love playwrights whose voice lead to a distinctive body of work so you can hear a line and go, "Yes, that's a Lynn Nottage play" or "Ah, Nilo Cruz, how I've missed you..." I love extremes: meticulous plays steeped in the virtuosic minutiae of experience and language (I'm thinking of Annie Baker's The Aliens here) and I love big huge theatrical ambitious messes that push form (I'm thinking of Thornton Wilder's Skin of Our Teeth and Sarah Ruhl's Passion Play here). And the theme of mortality is pretty much what sticks in my mind and gut.

I saw Complicité perform their play Mnemonic at the National Theatre in London. A wooden folding chair turned into the puppet of a dying man before my eyes. I will never forget that moment--watching the "chair" gasp for breath in an arctic landscape. I will also never forget a father burying his child in Sarafina! Her grave was a simple square of light that grew darker with every pantomimed shovel of dirt. By the end the stage was just black.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Have a strong point of view. Have a strong voice. (Even if you're being very soft, be strong in that choice.) Be virtuosic with your imagination and your language. Be a craft junkie. Study it. Master it. Break it. Study the great plays, and think about form within them. The wider range of work you know, the wider your toolbox. Study the masters of the abstract arts: dance, visual art, and music. Go see Alvin Ailey and Baryshnakov. Go to the Romare Bearden exhibit at the Whitney. Go to hear Schubert Piano recitals and Etta James at SOB's. Bring your notebook with you. When I lived in London for a few months, I brought my notebook to the Tate Modern on a weekly basis. The virtuosity of other forms can serve as a perpetual high bar for playwriting. And finally, self-produce.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  The tour of In the Heights continues until April 3. Visit intheheightsthemusical.com to see if it stops in your city. Beyond that, keep your ear out for my next play, Water By the Spoonful, which will open in fall 2011. It's about addiction and recovery, with nods to Coltrane.

Jan 26, 2011

I Interview Playwrights Part 308: Kait Kerrigan

Kait Kerrigan

Hometown: Kingston, PA

Current Town: New York

Q:  Tell me about your show going up at Goodspeed.

A:  My writing partner Brian Lowdermilk and I have been working with producers Beth Williams and Broadway Across America on a 5-person musical called The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown for several years. Goodspeed is the next step in the process. It's not a full production. It won't be reviewed and it won't have an official opening so we'll get a full month of performances to play and fine-tune. We begin performances on August 4th and run through August 28th at the Norma Terrace Theater - which has a turntable so I'm thinking we'll make use of that.

Q:  What else are you working on?

A:  2011 is pretty crazy. We just released our first album (Our First Mistake) and we're in the process of doing a concert series in New York called "You Made This Tour" - which is named for our fans after they raised 35K on our kickstarter campaign. We're also going to the MacDowell Colony to work on a new musical about the Irish Republican Army based on Shakespeare's Henry IV and then I hop out to Northern California to work on a production of my play Imaginary Love.

Q:  Tell me about Primary Stages' ESPA. What can a student in your class expect?

A:  You'd probably get a better answer from some of my students. I have a lot of students who have taken my classes three and four times and they're really progressing. I think the most important thing I can offer as a workshop leader is deadlines. The difference between being a writer and not is pretty simply the ability to finish something so I force that on them. Once you know you can finish something, the whole world opens up for you. In fact, I'm restructuring my first-level class to reflect that. The final product of my first level class is a treatment for full-length musical. But I want to create a mid-point deadline that has them each write a 10-minute musical. I kind of kick my students' asses. Otherwise, I wouldn't be earning my paycheck, but I try to create an environment where the critique is always constructive.

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'm going to tell you the first story that comes to mind. When I was three or four, I got really interested in god. My mom was agnostic, my grandmother was a lapsed Catholic, and my grandfather - who took me to church on Sundays and fed me pancakes afterwards - was Protestant. I was a very literal kid and I started asking my mom a lot of questions about where people come from and how God made us. I think my mom probably talked to me about science and, like, cell formation. But I was really preoccupied by the idea of how bones got inside skin. I couldn't understand how God (or anyone) could put the bones inside without there being seams. A couple weeks passed, and I came running into the dining room. I was so excited. I show my mom the palms of my hands. I said, "Look! I found the seams!"

I guess the reason that story comes to mind because I get really stuck on things I don't understand, things I can't name. Honestly, it doesn't even matter if I name it incorrectly. The naming of it, making something feel like it makes sense, is all that matters. And that's sort of what writing is for me.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  I wish theater gave audiences more credit. I also wish there were a more porous relationship between theater and popular culture. That's two things...

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  I met Sondheim when I was 14 and I asked him to sign my cd. He told me that I was the only person under the age of 40 who knew who he was. I was devastated and I almost wrote him a letter to tell him how wrong he was. (As I said, I was a pretty literal kid.) Lynn Ahrens and Steve Flaherty were mentors of mine and Brian's and I think they were some of the best teachers I ever had.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I think the most exciting thing is when a play or musical HAS TO BE a play or a musical. I also love mongral forms, which is probably why I love writing musicals so much. I love when pieces attempt to stretch the boundaries of what has been done before. BRIEF ENCOUNTER, THE BURNT PART BOYS and VENICE are the shows this year that really moved me. In the not too distant past, pieces that really moved me include THE FOUR OF US, RUBY SUNRISE, CAROLINE OR CHANGE, CLYBOURNE PARK, LOOKING FOR THE PONY, and THE SEVEN. But probably the most exciting piece of theater that has happened in the past couple years was documented in film EXIT THROUGH THE GIFTSHOP. That film changed the way I view art, commerce, theatricality, and the age old plot twist.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Finish your drafts. Don't be afraid of rejection because you will be rejected. But often the people who reject your first play or musical, remember your name and are excited to read the 2nd one you send. And then, sometimes they're moved by your second piece and they commission your third.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  THE UNAUTHORIZED AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SAMANTHA BROWN is at Goodspeed from August 4th through August 28th. We also have concerts at Le Poisson Rouge on Feb 7 and March 27 and another concert at the Canal Room on Feb 28th. And my play IMAGINARY LOVE opens at the Hapgood Theatre in Antioch, CA on June 3 and runs through the end of the month.

Jan 25, 2011

I Interview Playwrights Part 307: Bianca Bagatourian

Bianca Bagatourian

Home town: Tehran, Iran

Current town: Los Angeles

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I'm currently completing the third draft of a play about the late historian, Howard Zinn, with whom I had the honor of working with for a couple of years. It's a multi-media piece with interviews and recorded voices and as it takes place in a radio station. I'm having a lot of fun adding 60's and 70's music to it.

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 remember a story - I’m not sure it explains who I am but it did seem to confirm one particular thing – the end of my stage career!

I was 7 and playing the prince in my boarding school production of the King and I and all I had to do was hold my head up as I bowed, being careful my crown didn't topple over. Now this crown was a rubber ring from the gymnasium and sure enough, the king entered and I did a deep bow and off flew my crown landing with a thud on the floor and rolling straight off the stage and into the bemused audience. I was mortified.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  If the world was my oyster and I could juggle it around and rearrange the globe: I’d do more east coast theater on the west coast. I’d do more European theater on the east coast. And I’d bring more Middle-Eastern stories to the Western world.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  What I admire most is brave writing.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Brave theater. I don’t mean to be redundant here but I genuinely think a brave, true, courageous voice in any artistic medium is rare and exciting.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  I’m not sure I’m one to give any advice. All I know is that it works best for me to love what I’m writing. Someone asked me the other day how I pick my subject matter and I said I write about things that make me throw up. This is not a contradiction. I write about things that make me sick to my stomach as that is what is important to me as a person. Then HOW I write about it – the writing process, the form, concept, etc. is what I need to love. As an example; for years when I would drive by nuclear power stations or hear about power plants on the news, I would hold my breath. It was just a knee-jerk thing because it would just make me feel so dirty and gross and my body didn’t want to take any of it in. So I started paying attention to this kind of thing and listening to my inner voice and writing about upsetting things like animal testing, things that made my blood boil, things I hated. But how I wrote about them was what I had to love. i.e. for the animal testing script I made my main character a man who had turned into a bunny from the drugs he tested on himself and he was our narrator who hopped around the stage and told the story through acrobatic movements and from the point of view of a rabbit. This I liked a lot.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Can I plug my brother who just wrote a huge Hollywood film that will be coming out next year – The biopic of the late rapper, Tupac Shakur.

I’m looking forward to my upcoming trip to Rwanda in order to integrate Rwandan genocide stories into my genocide play based on 800 hours of eyewitness testimony from the Armenian genocide. The hope is to demonstrate the universality of this sickening crime which incomprehensibly continues to this very day.

And more currently, next week I’m producing a reading of the winner of the $10,000 Saroyan Playwriting Award that is run through my non-profit at the Los Angeles Theater Center with a fabulous cast. (www.armeniandrama.org). 

Jan 23, 2011

I Interview Playwrights Part 306: Kyoung H. Park

Kyoung H. Park

Hometown: Santiago, Chile

Current Town: New York City

Q: Tell me about disOriented.

A:  "disOriented" is a play about a Korean-American family stuck in between cultures, and a freak accident that forces Ju Yeon to leave her family in New York and go back home to Seoul. The play is based on true stories about my family's experience living in Chile, which I've transposed to contemporary times in Flushing, Queens to talk about my own experience immigrating to the States. I began writing this play in 2007 at the Royal Court Theater's Young Writer's Programme, and after 3 years of development, primarily in New York, "disOriented" is being produced by Theater C at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre on 42nd Street. "disOriented" is directed by the formidable Carlos Armesto, without whom I wouldn't have written this play, and  features Ariel Estrada, Daniel K. Isaac, Talym Jinn Kim, Julian Leong, Bert Matias, Amy Kim Washke, Virginia Wing, and contemporary, Korean fan dancing performed by Yanghee Lee.

Q:  What's your collaboration like with Carlos and Theater C?

A:  Carlos and I met through Youngblood back in 2005 and we’ve been working on “disOriented” since 2007. I'm excited about working with him because he’s been there for me since the play’s first reading at the Ma-Yi Theater's LabFest II. There were times in which I really wanted to give up and stop working on the play, and Carlos was the one that encouraged me to keep going and make of this play an act of truth-telling.

Over the years, we’ve developed a strong friendship and partnership. I feel that for both of us “disOriented” is a culmination of a journey we’ve taken together as artists. For me, this is my first, full-length production of an original play in New York since 2005 and for him, it’s his New York, directorial debut as Artistic Director of his new company, Theater C.

What excites me about our work at this point, is seeing how open Carlos is in his collaboration with the cast and creative team. He creates a really open space for everyone to be part of the process. It's fun to watch him work--he really goes for it and knows how to get everyone involved in the rehearsal room. And his work is gorgeous. He'll make of "disOriented" an event I couldn't even imagine and that's a real treat.

Q:  What else are you working on?

A:  I'm currently in my second year at Columbia's MFA program in playwriting and working on several scripts at the same time. My most immediate project, following "disOriented," is a workshop production of HEARTBREAK/INDIA, which I've been writing since 2006. HEARTBREAK/INDIA is based on my time studying Peace and Global Governance at Kyung Hee University's Graduate Institute of Peace Studies in South Korea, and it's about my personal search for both inner and social peace. The play is set in the United Nations and the story follows Rajiv, an Indian-American UN Diplomat negotiating a Global, Non-Violence Peace Resolution through the UN's Security Council. The play explores how international diplomacy works at a political level and through dance, examines power dynamics and international affairs from a more intimate and spiritual point-of-view. This workshop will present my fifth, page-one rewrite of the play, and I'm excited to see what will happen once we get it on its feet.

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 in a traditional Korean household in Santiago, Chile and went to an American/International school. I was raised speaking Korean, Spanish, and English and lived in an environment that was very diverse and extremely privileged. Most of my friends' parents worked for international organizations, foreign governments, or multi-national corporations, and most of my classmates came and went after three/four years. As a kid, I didn't know what to make of that and I was pretty confused. I used to cry, not be able to bond, and hid behind bushes because there were bullies. Theater helped me make friends, taught me how to speak up, and do all the social things I never really learned how to do as a kid. Now, I continue doing theater by writing plays about international politics from a multi-cultural point of view, because it's pretty much the only way I know how to understand what my childhood was all about...

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  I think it'd be awesome to find a way to support continuous, long-term collaborations among artists. It's really hard to find environments in which a writer, director, actors, and designers can develop a new piece from beginning to end. And though I recognize that some plays may take years to write, I think that playwrights could work better if the support structure was there. By keeping artists together and providing means to sustain a long-term, creative process, artistic discussions could go deeper and theater could, perhaps, respond more proactively to our changing times. While other mediums, including film and TV, have found ways to keep up with the advent of new technologies and evolve as an industry, I think theater has not yet found a way to take advantage of these new tools to have a larger impact in social discourse.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Edward Albee's mastery of the English language and Tony Kushner's politics really inspired me when I started to write plays. Now, I'm very interested in experimental playwrights like Young Jean Lee, Chuck Mee, and Martin Crimp; Augusto Boal's life-long devotion to the practical and theoretical development of Theater of the Oppressed; Bob Wilson's visual aesthetic and conceptual designs; very recently, I've become fascinated with physical-performances and contemporary dance.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I love theater that is immediate and raw. I love hearing a playwright's voice and see the actors perform both with visceral physicality and emotionally from their bones. I love the hybridization of theater with different art forms and the creation of a theatrical event, rather than an entertaining spectacle. I love theater that dares, that is risky and provocative, and that makes me see how it can be done another way. I love theater that obsesses over words because I think most of the times language fails us, and I find it both tragic and comic to be a playwright.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  The best way I learned how to write plays was by watching other writers work. From 2003-2005, I worked at the Lark as the company's Development Associate and saw emerging, established, and foreign writers develop their work. I learned from these writers, and the Lark staff, how to be persistent, truthful, and clear about the stories I was trying to tell.

I've also been fortunate to be part of EST's Youngblood and the Ma-Yi Writer's Lab since 2004, and during this time I've been able to see incredibly, talented writers hone their voice and completely fallen in love with their sensibilities and concerns as writers. I'd encourage everyone to get involved with writers in their own communities and find the ones who create plays that resonate with them. Seeing a new writer's work that you love is like discovering a new band and listening to an awesome album you've never heard of. With time, I think that relationship between a writer and his/her audience only deepens and becomes more rewarding. In cities like New York, there are just so many gifted writers doing work, I think it's a privilege to have such abundance and a shame when not all of us get an equal shot to be heard.

Lastly, I think playwriting is a life-long endeavor and early on, I found it best to face what I didn't know, muster the courage to be honest about it, and take risks to find answers. The biggest lessons I've learned have not been in school, but from practical experiences while working in the theater and experiential lessons I've received while taking time off from writing, to travel and live in different countries and different cultures. Returning to New York to focus on my plays, I realize that there is no one way to make theater, as there is no one way to live, and writing has become a way to continue asking questions, big and small, and make of my career a journey of self-discovery, social engagement, and meaningful, personal growth in the company of many other people, that are just trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

Q:  Plugs, please:

-disOriented. World Premiere directed by Carlos Armesto, produced by Theater C. Peter Jay Sharp Theater on 42nd Street, Feb. 16th-Mar. 5th. http://theatrec.org/

-HEARTBREAK/INDIA. Workshop production directed by Snehal Desai, produced as part of Very Important Plays, a season of new works-in-progress by Columbia's  2012 MFA Playwriting Candidates. April 15-17. http://viplays.wordpress.com/

Jan 19, 2011

I Interview Playwrights Part 305: Honor Molloy

Honor Molloy

Hometown: Dublin, Ireland

Current Town: Brooklyn

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  Promotion. Creating scripts for performances of pieces from Smarty Girl--an autobiographical novel about my Dublin childhood. I spent the past six years fully focused on completing this manuscript so at this point, I can't even spell the word theatre. (Is it theater, or theatre, darling?) In the old days, I attended about five theatrical events a week. These days? Three in a month is a monster month.

Now that I'm done with the first stage of the book, I plan on posting several performance pieces from it on UTube. The idea is to do spoken word on radio as well as live performance as often as possible.

Perhaps in February I will have some time to return to playwriting. I aim to do a final revision on autodelete--a play about September 11th that I started in March 2002. The new version is called 10 Years and will reflect my vision of the play rather than producers and / or literary managers who were not interested in producing my play but felt compelled to tell me what was wrong with it.

I attended NYU Graduate Acting Program way back in the early 1980s. They have a wonderful monthly workshop for Graduate Acting Alumni who are developing writing projects. I will develop the new script in this safe environment with some mighty fine actors.

Q:  How does writing fiction compare to writing plays?

A:  When writing plays, the last piece of the puzzle for me is the structure. It has always been the beast of burden as well as the gift of each play. I find I write autobiographically even when composing a play about 18th Century England so there’s that initial difficulty in figuring out what is going on under the under of the subject matter. This can lead to delays. A divorce in a play has precipitated a divorce in real life.

I work with characters drawn from history, ie: the Grimke Sisters, Queen Victoria, corsets, Brandon Teena - Teena Brandon (the gender outlaw murdered in Nebraska during the final hours of 1992), Lord Horatio Nelson - Vice Admiral of the Blue. And I revel in research. My plays often take a while to complete on the page. The actual structure of the play usually reflects the theatrical and / cultural constructs of the era in which its set. For example: Madame Killer is set in Manhattan during 1878. It’s a shameless and flagrant melodrama with such added flourishes as a live pianist and female pugilists. I started Madame Killer in 1990 and didn’t complete the script until Clubbed Thumb produced it in 2005. The plays are not done until they are produced. Unfortunately, I have a pile of unfinished plays.

That sort of frustration drove me to fiction where I thought I’d be in control. And that things would go more quickly. A laugh. It took twelve years altogether. Three huge drafts. And like the plays, structure came last. I don’t know why I obsess about the time it took to write the book, but it was so much more intensive. The equivalent of writing thirty plays. Many of the stories can stand alone. I suppose that’s why they can be performed. I suppose that because they can be performed, they have their own structural integrity—just like a play.

I stole from my playwriting all the way through. Playwriting made the dialogue easy. Made this a lean, muscular book with a driving action that pulls a reader straight through to the end.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  My first full-length starts with a woman arriving at a maternity hospital with a dead fetus inside her. She’s been badly beaten by her husband. Many of my plays repeat some version of this scene. It is the climax of my book. When I was a child my father beat my mother. I have no recollection of this. I write to regain my memory. I write to understand. War begins in living rooms. Stop the war.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Caryl Churchill, Eva Le Gallienne, Samuel Beckett,

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Physical theatre first. Big-fat-theatrical, savage and raucous theatre that takes up space. A woman with a microphone and a spotlight—a button accordion heaving beside her. She is just riffing with lingo. Then the song starts. A standard. It is magic. I love down-and-dirty vulgar comedy. Wordplay. Love wordplay.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Read, read, read. Go to plays at all stages of production, take acting classes--they are the best playwriting courses, intern with a theatre company, learn what it takes to produce a play, produce your friends’ plays, produce yourself, make mayhem.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Smarty Girl UTubes: Sixpence the Stars and Up Went Nelson. I’ll be performing at the 45th Commemoration of the Destruction of Nelson’s Pillar at the Dublin City Archive on March 7th.

Jan 16, 2011

I Interview Playwrights Part 304: Anna Moench

Anna Moench

Baltimore, MD. The Greatest City In America.

Current Town:
New York. A place that would look like a douchebag for claiming to be the greatest city in America on every public bench.

Q:  Tell me about your upcoming show at EST.

A:  It's called In Quietness, and it's about a former CEO who has left her job to follow her recently born-again husband to a Southern Baptist seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. She's the type of person who doesn't know how to fold a sheet, so she enrolls in the seminary's Homemaking B.A. program. The play explores the difficulties of fitting oneself into a box, whether that box be gender, religion, profession, or social expectations, and why, given how difficult it is, we all try so hard to do it. The production is a part of Youngblood's Unfiltered series, which is an annual assortment of studio productions of full lengths by Youngblood writers.

Q:  What else are you working on?

A:  I'm also a member of the 2010 Emerging Writers Group at The Public, where I'm working on a play called Hunger. The play takes place in rural China, and it explores what the landscape of life is like out there right now, and how that is as much shaped by the country's tremendous upheaval during the past century as it is by its hopes for the next one. The plot revolves around minghun, a traditional burial practice in which bereaved parents will buy the corpse of a girl to bury with their dead son in a joint wedding/funeral ceremony to ensure that he is not lonely in the afterlife. The living are played by puppets, and their puppeteers become their souls in the afterlife once they die. I've been working on this piece, the research or writing false starts, for over two years now. It has been an exercise in perseverance. But the writing is finally moving now, which feels great.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  Once as a kid I came downstairs for breakfast and found my mom cutting my dad's hand open with a razor blade over some paper towels on the kitchen table. Apparently some lead shot that had been lodged in there for years after an old hunting accident. That morning it had been bothering him, so he asked her to cut him open and get it out. Doctors, man. In retrospect it seems strange that an 8 year old would be not at all disturbed by this. I think I had cereal and watched. As a writer I think that interest carries over...I like the visceral clockwork that keeps us breathing and swallowing and shitting so that we can think our lofty or stupid thoughts. One of my plays, GORMANZEE, stages the strangulation and evisceration of a shaved gorilla (puppet) and a nearly naked human (actor) while a chimpanzee (actor) fear grins and runs around screaming, fruitlessly searching for escape. My company produced it at The Flea last summer and I assumed it would be a real thigh slapper. But judging from the appalled silence on a few nights, some audiences were traumatized. Especially the little kids who came thinking it would be a puppet show. Yikes. I do feel a little bad about that. But I still think it's the funniest thing I've ever written.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Theater is like a drug, isn't it? The more I consume, the more I need from it. Story used to be what moved me, and I still love (and to some extent need) a good story, but now I'm hooked on visuals, particularly the use of puppets and objects. Force me to see life in a dead thing, force me to love that dead thing, force me to mourn the death of a thing that never lived, and you are forcing me to be conscious of the act of being human. Also, I like solving puzzles. I like ambiguity without vagueness. I really like laughing, I like hilarious characters that show me a good time. I like elegant transitions and messy interactions. I like shocking shifts in visual perspective. I like seeing something that expands how I see everything.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  1. If you live in a place that has a theater scene, then it is my opinion that you should see plays and read other stuff. Scripts are blueprints for plays, and although I know I'm supposed to like reading them, I just don't. Maybe that's bad advice, but so far I don't think I've been screwed by it. I think my time is better spent reading outdated manuals on how to be a secretary in 1963, advice columns, fundamentalist blogs, recipes for fertilizers, the Wikipedia pages for massacres I never knew happened, poetry, the Bible, the dictionary, obituaries, the epic origin stories written on organic food packaging, and the sentence on the side of the Domino's sugar box (seriously, check it out, it's weird). Get a news site to email you all the articles about some random country every day for a year. Become an armchair expert on something. It will probably start to show in your writing. Or even better, you may end up at some horrible party where some insufferable person is talking out of their ass about North Korea or whatever and you can be like "SHAZAM! I know everything there is to know about North Korea, fool!" That has never happened to me, but I haven't given up hope.

2. Try to get enough fresh air.

3. Read all the other advice from the other playwright interviews on Adam's blog. They have all already said all the stuff that first came to mind when I started answering this question.

4. Read Anne Lamott's "Bird By Bird." It will make you laugh and feel better about everything.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  The other shows in Unfiltered are fantastic!
-Sweet Forgotten Flavor by Patrick Link (running now, don't miss it!) is set in this beautifully timeless, placeless, sideways fairy tale-ish world that quietly and brilliantly elevates the conflicts at work among its characters. Really wonderful.

-The Sluts of Sutton Drive by Joshua Conkel is yet another winner from an incredibly talented writer. It's dark, twisted, and hilarious. Jaded suburban moms drink cleaning products to deal with the bleakness of their existence.

The first Sunday of every month is Youngblood's Brunch series, which is brunch+new short plays around a theme+drinking. Don't miss it!

Jan 14, 2011


Production of Nerve in Anaheim, CA  Jan 28-Feb 27 
(9th production of the play, 10th-12th coming soon)


Production of Deflowering Waldo in Rochester, NY Feb 4-13 
(5th production of the play)


Reading of Save as part of How Soon Is Now with Packawallop in NYC  Jan 31

Benefiting the Trevor Project


Reading of Elsewhere in West Virginia Feb 9


Reading of Temporary Everything, Croton On Hudson, NY  Feb 11


Reading of Hearts Like Fists, Boston, MA Feb (TBA)


Jan 12, 2011

I Interview Playwrights Part 303: Martin Blank

Martin Blank

Hometown: Bethesda, Maryland

Current Town: Bethesda, Maryland

Q:  Tell me about Avenue of The Americas.

A:  I find as a playwright that A always leads to C. Avenue of the Americas was the first play I ever wrote. It is a story about a woman who escapes a mental institution to write television advertisements that become dangerously successful. Avenue of the Americas has been produced, but not in New York City. One of my other plays, The Law of Return, had a reading at ArtEffects Theatre Company in New York City. They told me the night before the reading they had extra time in the space and asked, "Is there anything else you want to hear too?" God love them. They did readings of both plays back to back. Kristin Cantwell, an amazing actress, who gave my work to ArtEffects in the first place, and Phil Newsom, a brilliant producer and director at ArtEffects, loved Avenue of the Americas. Kristin and Phil are producing it on their own Off Broadway at The Tank Theater. For me, as always, A leads to C. 

Q:  What else are you working on?

A:  A new comedy, No Rest for the Wicked. It's a dark, comic spin on Rip van Winkle. It's getting a reading at the Kennedy Center in September.

Q:  How would you characterize the DC theater scene?

A:  Exciting. Very. A vibrant Fringe festival giving birth to lots of young companies doing great work, including many new plays. Plenty of "old school" shops putting on new plays too: Woolly Mammoth, Arena Stage, and so on. An awful lot of seasoned as well as talented new theater people. The theater scene in DC has never been better.  

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  Like a lot of us, when I was four I put on shows in my living room. They were magic shows. I wrote and produced them. I got all the neighborhood kids to perform them. Siblings and parents would come. We charged one dollar for admission. Even at age four, I knew to pay artists.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  You can fill a library with what I don't know about theater. Or life. I do know that a lot of folks in our business are in hard times now. Still, anyone reading this is a creative person. My wish is that people in our business think creatively about how to put on theater in a sustainable way. The tide that goes out comes back. I want American theater to be bullish again.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Actors. Brave, gifted, folks.   

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Anytime I see a play, no matter the style, budget, whatever, where an audience has been moved in some way and, based on that experience, will likely go see more theater.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Take one good acting class. Read all the time-plays, anything and everything. Take the two plays you love most and physically type them. It will save you years. (Paddy Chayefsky did this, it worked out okay for him.) See as many plays as you can. Every day, whatever happens, try to see the glass as half full. And the last thing should be obvious.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Production of Avenue of the Americas January 21 to February 6 at The Tank Theater in New York City. Reading in Washington, D.C., of No Rest for the Wicked at the Kennedy Center in early September. And Adam,  you're a terrific and busy playwright. Thanks for doing these!

Jan 8, 2011

I Interview Playwrights Part 302: Paul Thureen

Paul Thureen

Hometown: Grew up on a farm 10 miles north of East Grand Forks, MN

Current Town: Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Q:  Tell me about your upcoming remount of Buddy Cop 2.

A:  Buddy Cop 2 is our play about Cops, Christmas and Racquetball that we premiered in May at the Ontological-Hysteric Incubator. We’re bringing it back for a quick run for PS122’s COIL festival. We’ll be at the Atlantic Theater Stage 2. It’s a super fun, dark, sad, strange play.

Q:  What else are you working on?

A:  Well, we have the very beginnings of three new plays so after Buddy Cop 2 we’ll hop back into development mode.

Also, Buddy Cop 2 is coming out from Samuel French in just a few weeks and we’re happy to report that Manbites Dog Theater in Durham, NC will be doing the first licensed production in June. It’s the first time someone ELSE has done one of our shows . . . which is totally exciting and bizarre because we’ve always written for ourselves as performers.

Q:  How do you and Hannah write together? What's your process?

A:  Once we’ve found the little thing that’s our main core starting point, we spend a period of time collecting things; research, images, objects (very important), songs . . . and that transitions into generating a big mass of text sort of riffing on these early ideas and inspirations. At this point Oliver (our director and the other third of The Debate Society) and Hannah and I are really focused on creating the world of the play which is sort of the most important thing to us; the flavor and feel of the place and its mythology.

From our feeling of what that world is and the writing we’ve done, we start to shape the story and characters. We’ll do in-rehearsal work with Oliver, then Hannah and I write and bring stuff back in, repeat repeat repeat. Hannah and I will give each other little writting assignments and when we read, we’ve usually ended up magically filling in the gaps of what was missing in the other’s writing.

It definitely starts out as a very intuitive process. As we get closer to production, then we look back at what we have, how it’s (hopefully) kind of instinctively lined up and then at that point do a little bit more shaping and building from a more intellectual/dramaturgical perspective.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  Well I guess this is more of an origin story than a single event, but my mom was a Norwegian professor and writer and my dad a farmer and I think it kind of makes sense that that made me. My mom was always SUPER creative and viewed that world with very childlike eyes for an adult . . . she still does actually. So dragons would be leaping out at us from the ditch when we’d be riding in the car and things like that. She also read to me and my sister a lot and had us do “hot pen” writing exercises from a young age. And then my dad was more quiet, super hard working, but also with a sort of dry, pragmatic Midwestern sense of humor. On the farm you just have a lot of time alone, inventing things, climbing on (dangerous) farm machinery, creating your own little word outside. I just reread your interview you did with Hannah . . . and she talked about setting up little dioramas in her mom’s antique shop window . . . so it strikes me we grew up in very similar ways in very different places. And I think that sense of play still really flavors our work . . . even when we’re making something very adult or sad or dark.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  I studied for 3 months in Moscow and those guys are just such committed artists; doing what they do even in the worst of times and working so hard with much fewer resources . . . and still there’s this super commitment to playfulness and excessive creativity. There’s always a point where Oliver’s staging, and we’ve written something crazy and impossible that has to happen on stage and we can’t figure out how to make it happen and we joke, “Um, we’ll just use real magic”. And I think the Russians believe in that. So . . . “Russians” is the answer I guess.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Sometimes I see plays and think, “That was good . . . but would have been better as an episode of This American Life (or Law and Order. Or a book. Or a tone poem.) and there’s nothing really wrong with that . . . but I get so excited when I see something stunning or delicate or that really rocks me that could only happen in theater.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  “Turn on your nerves” as they’d tell us in Russia so you’re absorbing things that are interesting or make you feel a certain way in the world. Be open to finding inspiration in anything. Look places no one else looks. And be super honest and critical with yourself: Is this REALLY what I want to make, or is this something just in the style of what I think I SHOULD make. Work hard. And then . . . try to get out of the way of yourself and trust your intuition.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Buddy Cop 2 at Atlantic Stage 2, January 8th-13th (go to thedebatesociety.org for the details)!

Jan 5, 2011

I Interview Playwrights Part 301: Yusef Miller

Yusef Miller

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Current Town: New York, NY


What are you working on now?

A: 1) Writing a new play.

2) This week, I begin rehearsals for my ten-minute dark comedy, called Breakfast. Synopsis: ..eggs and muthufuckin' bacon will not be the start of glen's morning. his wife, harriet, has pop tarts on the menu, the shit they've overlooked for 19 years...

Q: How can we support your work?

A: By attending my ten-minute dark comedy, called Breakfast. Building on a sold-out inaugural year in 2010, The Fire This Time Festival continues its mission of supporting playwrights of African-descent and exploring challenging new directions for 21st century theater.
All Season Two festival events will be held at Horse Trade Theater Group’s Red Room (85 East 4th Street between 2nd Ave and Bowery).
Join us for an evening of ten-minute plays:
• The Scorpion and the Fox by Jesse Cameron Alick
• The Eternal Return by Christine Jean Chambers
• Exodus by Camille Darby
• The Bitter Seraph of Sugar Hill by Marcus Gardley
• Breakfast by Yusef Miller
• Third Grade by Dominique Morisseau
• Thu - 01/20   7:00 PM
• Fri - 01/21     7:00 PM
• Sat - 01/22     7:00 PM
• Sun - 01/23   2:00 PM
• Thu - 01 27    7:00 PM
• Fri -  01/28    7:00 PM
• Sat - 01/29     7:00 PM
• Sun – 01/30   2:00 PM
Tickets ($15) are available by calling Smarttix at 212-868-4444 or online at www.horseTRADE.info (on "The Fire This Time Festival Panel on the left)

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 an Artist-born child who retained narratives of the unrequited dreams of a family, a community, a race. Initially, it was important for me to run for my own story, or at the least, to wait out the storm. Poetry became my first expression of my existence. It validated my purpose in the storm; and in articulating it, validated the people and the stories. I write plays from within the storm. I’m still validating. I’m experimenting with different styles and forms of validating.

Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A: I wouldn’t touch the mainstream theatre community. I wouldn’t know where to begin, other than total reformation. What I would do is slip a pill into the drinks of every Black Playwright, Black Producer, and Black Audience Member. This pill would have several effects. 1) it would identify our “oneness with each other.” 2) it would identify our “oneness with God.” 3) it would create within us courage and wisdom, unprecedented. 4) it would recreate in us a LIFE OR DEATH resolve. 5) it would advance how we contract our creativity. 

Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A: I endeavor to be my own hero. I owe it to me and my experience.

Q: What kind of theater excites you?

A: Allegories. 

Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A: The origins of your art is YOU. Be courageous, for all of us.

Jan 3, 2011

300 Playwright Interviews (alphabetically)

Rob Ackerman
Liz Duffy Adams
Johnna Adams
Tony Adams 
David Adjmi
Derek Ahonen
Zakiyyah Alexander
Luis Alfaro
Lucy Alibar
Joshua Allen
Mando Alvarado 
Sofia Alvarez
Terence Anthony
Alice Austen
Rachel Axler
Annie Baker
Trista Baldwin
Jennifer Barclay 
Courtney Baron
Mike Batistick 
Brian Bauman

Nikole Beckwith 
Maria Alexandria Beech 
Alan Berks
Brooke Berman
Susan Bernfield
Jay Bernzweig
Barton Bishop
Lee Blessing
Jonathan Blitstein
Adam Bock
Jerrod Bogard
Emily Bohannon
Rachel Bonds
Margot Bordelon
Deron Bos
Hannah Bos
Leslie Bramm
Jami Brandli
George Brant
Tim Braun
Delaney Britt Brewer
Erin Browne
Bekah Brunstetter
Sheila Callaghan
Darren Canady
Ruben Carbajal
Ed Cardona, Jr.
Jonathan Caren
Aaron Carter
David Caudle
Clay McLeod Chapman
Christopher Chen
Jason Chimonides  
Andrea Ciannavei
Eliza Clark
Alexis Clements  
Alexandra Collier
James Comtois
Joshua Conkel
Kara Lee Corthron
Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas
Erin Courtney
Cusi Cram
Lisa D'Amour
Heidi Darchuk
Stacy Davidowitz
Philip Dawkins
Dylan Dawson
Gabriel Jason Dean
Vincent Delaney
Emily DeVoti
Kristoffer Diaz
Jessica Dickey
Dan Dietz
Lisa Dillman
Zayd Dohrn
Bathsheba Doran
Anton Dudley
Laura Eason
Fielding Edlow
Erik Ehn
Yussef El Guindi
Libby Emmons
Christine Evans 
Jennifer Fawcett 
Joshua Fardon
Catherine Filloux   
Kenny Finkle
Kate Fodor 
Sam Forman
Kevin R. Free
Matthew Freeman
Edith Freni
Patrick Gabridge 
Anne Garcia-Romero
Gary Garrison 
Madeleine George
Meg Gibson
Sigrid Gilmer 
Peter Gil-Sheridan
Gina Gionfriddo
Michael Golamco
Jessica Goldberg
Daniel Goldfarb
Jacqueline Goldfinger
Christina Gorman
Craig "muMs" Grant
Katharine Clark Gray
Kirsten Greenidge
Jason Grote
Sarah Gubbins
Stephen Adly Guirgis
Lauren Gunderson 
Jennifer Haley
Christina Ham
Sarah Hammond
Rob Handel
Jordan Harrison
Leslye Headland
Ann Marie Healy
Julie Hebert 
Marielle Heller
Amy Herzog
Andrew Hinderaker
Cory Hinkle
Richard Martin Hirsch
Lucas Hnath
David Holstein
J. Holtham
Les Hunter
Sam Hunter
Chisa Hutchinson
Arlene Hutton
Laura Jacqmin
Joshua James
Julia Jarcho
Kyle Jarrow
Karla Jennings
David Johnston
Nick Jones
Julia Jordan
Rajiv Joseph
Aditi Brennan Kapil
Lila Rose Kaplan  
Jeremy Kareken 
Lally Katz
Lynne Kaufman
Greg Keller
Sibyl Kempson 
Anna Kerrigan
Boo Killebrew
Callie Kimball
Johnny Klein 
Krista Knight
Andrea Kuchlewska
Larry Kunofsky
Deborah Zoe Laufer 
J. C. Lee
Young Jean Lee
Dan LeFranc
Andrea Lepcio
Steven Levenson
Barry Levey
Mark Harvey Levine  
Michael Lew
EM Lewis
Sean Christopher Lewis
Jeff Lewonczyk
Kenneth Lin
Matthew Lopez
Stacey Luftig
Kirk Lynn
Mariah MacCarthy
Laura Lynn MacDonald
Maya Macdonald
Cheri Magid
Jennifer Maisel
Martyna Majok 
Kara Manning
Ellen Margolis
Ruth Margraff
Sam Marks
Tarell Alvin McCraney
Daniel McCoy 
Ruth McKee
James McManus
Carly Mensch
Molly Smith Metzler
Charlotte Miller
Winter Miller
Lin-Manuel Miranda
Rehana Mirza
Michael Mitnick
Alejandro Morales
Desi Moreno-Penson
Dominique Morisseau
Itamar Moses
Gregory Moss
Megan Mostyn-Brown
Paul Mullin
Julie Marie Myatt
Janine Nabers
Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
Brett Neveu
Qui Nguyen
Don Nigro
Dan O'Brien
Dominic Orlando
Rich Orloff 
Jamie Pachino
Kristen Palmer
Tira Palmquist
Peter Parnell
Julia Pascal
Steve Patterson
christopher oscar peña
Brian Polak 
Daria Polatin 
Craig Pospisil
Jessica Provenz
Michael Puzzo
Adam Rapp  
Theresa Rebeck
Amber Reed
Daniel Reitz
Molly Rice
Mac Rogers
Elaine Romero
Lynn Rosen
Andrew Rosendorf
Kim Rosenstock
Kate E. Ryan
Kate Moira Ryan
Trav S.D.
Sarah Sander
Tanya Saracho
Heidi Schreck
August Schulenburg
Mark Schultz
Jenny Schwartz
Emily Schwend
Jordan Seavey
Christopher Shinn
Rachel Shukert
Jen Silverman
David Simpatico 
Blair Singer
Crystal Skillman
Mat Smart
Alena Smith
Tommy Smith
Ben Snyder
Lisa Soland
Peggy Stafford 
Saviana Stanescu
Nick Starr
Deborah Stein
Jon Steinhagen
Victoria Stewart
Andrea Stolowitz
Gary Sunshine
Caridad Svich
Jeffrey Sweet
Adam Szymkowicz
Daniel Talbott
Kate Tarker 
Lucy Thurber
Dan Trujillo
Alice Tuan
Jon Tuttle
Ken Urban
Enrique Urueta
Francine Volpe
Kathryn Walat
Michael I. Walker 
Malachy Walsh
Kathleen Warnock
Anne Washburn
Marisa Wegrzyn
Anthony Weigh   
Ken Weitzman
Sharr White
Claire Willett
Samuel Brett Williams
Beau Willimon
Pia Wilson
Gary Winter
Stanton Wood
Craig Wright
Deborah Yarchun
Lauren Yee
Steve Yockey
Kelly Younger
Stefanie Zadravec
Anna Ziegler