Oct 17, 2012
I Interview Playwrights Part 505: Emily Dendinger
Hometown: Purcellville, VA
Current Town: Iowa City, IA
Q: What are you working on now?
A: A couple of things. First, I'm working on a new play about an amateur photographer named Charles Cushman who was the first person to photograph in color many beautiful American landmarks. I'm also revising a play I wrote for my fall Workshop called POCKETFUL OF SAND, which tells the story of an old man who pulls bodies from the ocean and sell their souls, and his relationship with a young girl who want to be his apprentice.
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 grew up with two younger sisters and spent a lot of time playing dress up in old bridesmaids dresses in our basement, remounting elaborate productions of musicals we checked out from the library. Looking back, those games of make believe taught me how to see the world as it ought to be, to consider anything possible, and that all good stories include drama, humor, beauty, music and a touch of absurdity.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: We are leaving women behind. When only one female playwright makes TCG's Top 11 Most-Produced Playwrights 2012-13 season, something is wrong. When season after season is announced and there is a shocking lack of female voices and directors, something is wrong. The fact that this is something we still need to address in 2012 deeply disturbs me. I'm not sure where the problem is because I'm in an MFA program composed almost entirely of some of the strongest, bravest female writers I've met so I know the problem isn't women can't write. I'm not sure where the issue is, but this is a conversation that needs to be happening right now.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: Tom Stoppard, Chekhov, Naomi Wallace, Caryl Churchill, Aaron Sorkin, Steven Moffat, and my fellow Iowa playwrights.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: Theatre that takes my breath away and surprises me. Theatre that uncovers hope in the world, that reminds us people are inherently good and have an endless capacity to love. Theatre with large, ensemble casts.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Write. Read everything. See as much theatre as you possibly can. Believe you have something worth saying, and don't let the committee in your head get you down.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: CHAMPAGNE GODS at the University of Iowa (Dec 8-10)