Saturday, June 02, 2012

I Interview Playwrights Part 461: Max Posner

photo by Kate Owen

Max Posner

Hometown: Denver, Colorado

Current Town: Brooklyn, New York

Q:  Tell me about the play you'll work on with P73.

A:  The play is called SNORE & OTHER SORTS OF BREATHING. It's a play about a large group of young people, and it takes place at each of their birthday parties over one year. All of them are pursuing "the common good" professionally - working for non-profits, NGO's, immigration law firms. They're breaking up with each other and visiting foreign countries and are very blessed to be very educated. This play is about the difficulty of evolving, together, as an organism of friends, trying to keep relationships the same and do everything "right", whatever that means.

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 11 and followed my sister into her "Creative Dramatics" class. I gathered a grain of courage and went onstage to improvise a scene. Boldly, I decided I was going to be a Pickpocket. The girl I was onstage with was wearing an unusually long T-Shirt. Down to her ankles. In order to "pick" her "pocket", I would need to pull her shirt up. I did. The teacher gasped. Then, the squawking and blushing and insta-gossip of our pubescent peers. I urinated in my cargo pants. My face was very hot. I sat in the men's room alone, legs soaked. It was a terrible, thrilling feeling. I had to go back into that room, I had to tell them I peed myself, perhaps I would say I was sorry, or perhaps I would shout that I wasn't sorry. Those gut feelings: humiliation, agony, and hope - these are the things I'm most interested in.

I took things very seriously as a child, which meant I was laughed at quite often by my own family. I wore shoes that were way too big because they felt right. I would trip down the stairs. I wanted to go to clown college. I've always been interested in accidents, and therefore theatre.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Samuel Beckett, Wallace Shawn, Maria Irene Fornes. My mentors and teachers: Erik Ehn, Lisa D'Amour, Bonnie Metzgar, Paula Vogel, Greg Moss.

Adrienne Rich, Frank O'Hara. I read poetry, and I think it really informs how I think about plays, because it makes room for multiple meanings. The same poem completely transforms depending on where and when and how it hits you.

Also, this:

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Theatre that isn't sure what it's imitating, that asks us to learn how to watch it.

I like plays where people don't fully understand each other or themselves. I like plays that really do express the giant sadnesses and wishes and loves of their writers and collaborators. Plays that don't stare too directly into what they are About, because there is a certain mystery or a certain chase we're leaning into. Plays where conflict exists within characters, as much as it exists between them.

I also like to Laugh - to laugh when laughter might be inappropriate, to laugh in multiple directions, as a reflex and a celebration, because something is funny and happening on the body-level.

Q:  Plugs:

A:  There's gonna be a reading of my play THE THING ABOUT AIR TRAVEL at Williamstown Theatre Festival on August 10th, directed by Kerry Whigham.

And stay tuned for more Page 73 presentations in the fall!

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