Tuesday, January 10, 2012
I Interview Playwrights Part 417: Tasha Gordon-Solmon
Current Town: New York
Q: Tell me about the play you're having read at Dixon Place.
A: The play is called Golden Water and it’s my biggest, weirdest, most theatrical, most ambitious play. It’s a collage, it has a cast of 10, and it takes place in heightened, magical world. It’s about story telling and identity and Jewish history –in a really twisted way.
I’m really thankful Dixon place is giving it a home. This will be the first reading of it.
It’s big and messy and I honestly have no idea what it’s going to look like, but I’m excited to find out. It’s being directed by the super cool Shira Milikowsky.
Q: What else are you working on now?
A: I’m writing a new play for the Dramatist Guild Fellows, which is still very fetal. It’s about a wedding. I’m kind of obsessed with weddings right now. They are pure theater. I wrote a short piece for the New Georges Perform-a-Thon this weekend and it also ended up being about a wedding – or someone who faked wedding--or rather, faked a groom for a wedding. I’m really interested in ritual and taboos and characters who are a little delusional - and weddings have all of that.
I just finished a play I’ve been working for a while called You, Me, Su-Yi and the Kitchen Sink. It’s about a 16 year old who returns home from a semester abroad to a very different family than the one she’d left, including a newly adopted 6 year old from China who doesn’t speak English. It’s a dark comedy.
And, I’m collaborating with the brilliant designer Lara de Bruijn on something so new we don’t know quite what it is yet, but I’m excited. And you should be too.
Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.
A: Every weekend morning when I was around 5, I would get into my mom’s bed and pretend to give birth. It would involve my putting a doll under my shirt, and then dramatically wailing and screaming as I delivered it. I’d repeat this with about 20 dolls. 30 on a good day. I had no interest in doing anything with the babies once they were born, they were really just accessories to my performance. So I guess from an early age I had flare for drama.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: I think we get too caught up in definitions and roles. If you’re a writer, it’s crazy to think you could also be a director. Or we’ll decide you’re a certain kind of writer or actor and if you try to do something different, people get all confused. I often see friends trying to create the same thing over and over, because they feel this pressure to fit into a type. I think it’s funny that we’re supposed to be the progressive creative ones, but we can still be kind of rigid with our expectations. The best theater artists I know are the one who are constantly defying definition and crossing boundaries.
Otherwise the regular complaints: health insurance, money and free smoothies.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: I was originally a dancer, so I love experimental companies who do really physical and theatrical – The Wooster Group, SITI Company. I adore Bill T. Jones – he’s created the some of the moving and powerful performances I’ve seen. There are probably 50 contemporary playwrights I could list, but for lack of space I’ll say Charles Mee, Sheila Callaghan, Sarah Ruhl and Kris Diaz. And pretty much everyone I was in the Ars Nova Playgroup with. Oh, and Shakespeare.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: Theater that crosses stylistic boundaries. Seemingly un-producible theater that gets produced. Theater makes me laugh. Theater that surprises me. Theater that tells new stories that haven’t been told. Theater that asks questions and doesn’t give answers. Theater that uses space in new or unexpected ways. I love ensemble work and collaboration. Good collaboration is the best.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: A friend once told me to have a glass of wine. I think that’s pretty good advice. Unless you’re an alcoholic.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: My reading of Golden Water at Dixon Place on January 23rd at 7:30.
I have a blog on the Huffington Post, where I discuss serious subjects like my cat and The Bachelor. You should read it because every time you don’t, a fairy dies a slow painful death.