Aug 6, 2012
I Interview Playwrights Part 485: Gina Femia
Current Town: Brooklyn- currently the same house I grew up in
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I'm currently finishing up a new play that I've been developing in Crystal Skillman's class at Sam French called We Are the Gods, which I'm really jazzed about. It's definitely the biggest play I've ever worked on, with Greek gods falling from the sky and landing in a post-apocolyptic world where men have become extinct because Hera stole them from Zeus. It's just a little epic. Surprisingly, it's also a coming of age story about growing up in a hopeless time.
I'll also be participating in Write Out Front: A Playwright Happening which Micheline Auger is curating. It's an amazing event where playwrights are given time to write in the storefront of the Drama Book Shop while having their work projected on a screen behind them so people passing by can see what they're working on. It's a brilliant event; not only does it bring awareness to what a playwright needs, it will show what the playwright does. There's no escaping us!
And I'm working on my solo show, Happily Never Ever, which I'll be performing as a part of the Estrogenius festival in the fall. It's basically about a freaks show where all the "freaks" involved are fairy tale characters with both real and imagined "deformities"; for example, Rapunzel is the bearded lady while Beauty is the see-through woman.
Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.
A: When I was in kindergarten, I always wanted to play with the legos during play-time, but the teacher would only let the boys play with them, probably because they weren't pink. I hate pink. I was really disinterested in playing house and too shy to make friends anyway, so I'd wander over to the round table in the corner that had packets of white paper stapled together and plenty of thick markers. I couldn't draw words yet, but I wrote stories anyway. I didn't let that minor detail stop me from having fun.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: I'd have people go to see theater in the same way they go see movies and I would have them be funded in the same way sports get funded. Everybody needs theater; I just wish they knew that.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: I'm definitely inspired by the now, the playwrights and theatremakers of today who will become the legends of the future and I'm fortunate that there are so many (in no order)-
Crystal Skillman, Daniel Talbott, Erik Ehn, Dael Orlandersmith, David Adjmi, Jordan Harrison, Lucy Thurber and Cassandra Medley. Susan Bernfield and New Georges. And Stephen Adley Guirgis. The game changed when I saw Jesus Hopped the A Train.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: Anything that breaks the boundaries of what is possible while telling a story.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Don't wait; just do. Write on the subway. Have a reading in your living room. Buy the $1.00 deli coffee for 3 months instead of Starbucks' and spend what you save to rent a rehearsal room for 8 hours, grab a bunch of actors and jam on your script. Cry when you're sad, smile when you're happy or else you'll go crazy. And always be sincere, sincere to other people and sincere to yourself and the stories you want to tell and the theater you want to create.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: Write Out Front: A Playwright Happening will start August 13th and run through September 1st. There are 70 playwrights participating and you can find all the information as it unfolds here.