Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I Interview Playwrights Part 435: Lauren Feldman


 
Lauren Feldman
 
Hometown: Miami, FL
 
Current Town:  Brooklyn, NY

Q:  What are you working on now?
 
A:  - Revising my play THE EGG-LAYERS, on the heels of its development (summer 2011-winter 2012) and recent production (March 2012) through Barnard College and New Georges, directed by Alice Reagan.

- Writing/devising/rehearsing THE ORPHEUS VARIATIONS with director Adam J. Thompson and the Deconstructive Theatre Project

- Writing/devising THE FOOD PLAY with director Pirronne Yousefzadeh and an ensemble of actors and playwrights.

- Starting work on a new play about John Milton and his daughters and the writing/dictating of Paradise Lost.

- Figuring out how to be a better and better teacher of playwriting. (This spring I’m teaching Playwriting & Dramatic Structure at Fairleigh Dickinson University; next fall, at Bryn Mawr.)

- Learning how to be an acrobat.
 
Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  Hmm. Jeez. Surely I must have a handful of good, rich childhood stories… But for some reason this is the one that keeps coming to mind today. Why is that?

When I was in elementary school, they gave us pre-tests and post-tests surrounding each grammar lesson. Well I remember getting a pre-test once on active and passive voice, and though the concept was new to me, the correct answers seemed intuitive, and I ended up getting 100%. My teacher, kinda surprised, came over and told me I could use the lesson as free time, since I clearly didn’t need to be taught this information. So I sat at the free-time station and tried to read a book or something, but really I spent the entire time feeling guilty and trying to surreptitiously eavesdrop on the lesson that I’d never formally learned.

I think this story pretty much encapsulates my susceptibility to Imposter Syndrome. Thankfully, though, I’ve mellowed out a tad since then.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
 
A:  For new plays to be produced more than read & developed – both of which seem like they’re increasingly becoming a stand-in for productions.

Also: for ticket prices to be affordable for a wider audience demographic.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
 
A:  Off the top of my head…
David Greenspan
Paula Vogel
Suzan-Lori Parks
Sarah Ruhl
Taylor Mac
Lisa Kron
Deb Margolin
Charles Mee
Mary Zimmerman
Tina Landau
Theatre de Complicite
Shakespeare

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?
 
A:  Theater that’s characterized by theatricality, by magic, by transcendence and transformation

Theater that involves the body; that’s muscular; that really utilizes physical expression

Theater that feels virtuosic (in any way)

Theater that’s created by and shared by a true ensemble

Theater that (genuinely) acknowledges the audience as a formative, vital presence

Theater that tugs at the imagination

Theater that’s playful

Theater that’s verbally (and visually too, why not) poetic; theater whose text soars

Theater that tells stories in unconventional ways

Theater that deftly and stubbornly breaks convention

Theater that tells the stories of folks in non-mainstream demographics

Theater that feels like an event, like an experience

Theater that takes risks

Minimalist theater

Theater that tells the truth

Theater whose truth-telling looks different from (but equally true to) how life actually looks

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
 
A:  Well, two of the things I always come back to each time I start a new play are:

Write from a place of hunger, honesty, & courage.

And

In your play, anything is possible, anything goes.

Q:  Plugs, please:
 
A:  For a play of mine:

Grace, or the Art of Climbing will be produced at the Denver Center Theatre next season (Jan-Feb 2013), directed by Mike Donahue.

For a play not of mine:

Dan LeFranc’s new play THE BIG MEAL just opened at Playwrights Horizons, and it’s stunning.

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