Friday, April 20, 2012

I Interview Playwrights Part 444: Trish Harnetiaux

Trish Harnetiaux

Hometown: Spokane, Washington

Current Town:  Brooklyn, NY

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I just finished a draft of a new play HOW TO GET INTO BUILDINGS that I wrote in the Soho Rep writer/director lab. It’s my first stab at a strange, exploded-view love story. Also, I’ve been working with the actress Nadia Bowers on a longer monologue piece that is inspired by Dario Fo’s A WOMAN ALONE… it’s loaded with shotguns and nosey neighbors, loud music and trumpets. Currently it’s called BABY. TRUMPET. BOOM. BOOM.

Q:  Tell me about Steel Drum in Space.

A:  Jacob A. Ware and I started Steel Drum in Space last year when we made our short film You Should Be A Better Friend. Since then, we’ve expanded the creative team to include awesome actor/director/DP/editor Tony Arkin and the result has been that we’re making these short comedy videos that depict, as we say on our site, ‘…the issues of tomorrow today with yesterday's science.’ So far we’ve tackled space cars, robot cats, and out of work astronauts with passive aggressive roommates – but really, there’s an entire galaxy of material out there and we’re releasing about one a month… The new one will be out in the next week!

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 have this memory, I must have been very tiny, of taking my parents’ camera and getting really, super close, like one inch away, from the TV screen during an episode of Miami Vice and taking this picture of Don Johnson. He was wearing a pink coat. I took great care not to get the edges of the set in the shot so I could say I was there with him, in Miami or whatever, when I took it. That we had just been hanging out. That photo never came out, and now, as a result– I despise Miami. Then, later, when I was like eight or nine it hit me. It became pretty clear that I would be an astronaut – but then, later, also president of the United States. But before all that I wanted to work in the bakery at the supermarket and hand out the free cookies to kids when they asked.

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

A:  That people would be tripping over themselves to go see shows, and that there was more funding for productions of new plays. Sorry if that’s two things.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Ionesco, Mac Wellman, Caryl Churchill, JM Barrie, Erik Ehn, Ada Limón, Jennifer L. Knox, Kenny Powers, Aristophanes, Salinger, Derek Jeter, Hemmingway, early Tim Burton, Beckett, Dave Eggers, Jenny Schwartz, President Barak Obama, Tina Satter, Erin Courtney, Albee, Normandy Raven Sherwood, Wes Anderson, Eric Nightengale, Jude Domski, Vaclav Havel, Charlie Kaufman, Lou Piniella, Will Eno, Darryl Strawberry, Willie Nelson, Richard Brautigan, Jacob A. Ware, Julian Dibbell, Joe Orton, my dad, Edgar Allan Poe and Shirley Jackson – to name a few.

(Confession: I just had to answer this question for something on the Soho Rep site and totally cut-and-paste. But actually I’ve added a few things that are different.)

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Theatre that doesn’t take itself too seriously, is not pretentious, or precious, but transports/takes you on an adventure through language/images/emotions. Usually there is something very off kilter, leaving you slightly disoriented. The best theatre is ultimately satisfying not because it teaches anything, but rather that you feel different/think different/have some sort of unique experience/small stroke/revelation that you didn’t know was even possible. I actually like theater that pushes you to try to articulate the experience properly.

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

A:  Surround yourself by people that you think are fucking awesome and inspirational and drive you and motivate you and push you to be not only a better person, but a better writer.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Watch our comedy videos at

Or/and there’s more about my plays and stuff at

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