Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I Interview Playwrights Part 530: Nick Gandiello

Nick Gandiello

Hometown: Baldwin, NY. Long Island.

Current Town: Harlem.

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I finished a first draft about a month ago, so now I'm in that weird place where I want to rush ahead with new ideas but should probably be a grown up and do a rewrite. To that end... I'm lucky to be participating in The New School for Drama's Alumni Project in February. We'll be doing a workshop and reading of my newest play, Black Fly Spring. It's about a young woman whose sister died on the job as a war photographer and how the aftermath affects her relationships and her views on the world.

I recently stepped into the role of Literary Manager of Young Playwrights Inc, and I'm looking forward to the readings of our National Competition winners in January. Those kids are inspiring.

And The Ars Nova Play Group's production of short plays goes up in January. We start rehearsing my play "Hip-Hop Documentaries" soon!

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  After my parents split up, I went to a child psychologist. I hope he was earning my parents' money; all I remember is playing with blocks and making a wood carving of an elephant in his shop. We brought my mom and brother in once and I played therapist and crossed my legs and rubbed my chin thoughtfully and asked them stuff like "and how does that make you feel?" It didn't go well. I remember crying and yelling "I had a shell! My shell is broken!" I was like six! I think I try really hard to empathize with others, sometimes to a fault, and to give others a chance to empathize, and a lot of times I think we all need to cry and acknowledge the shell. And I'm a psychology nerd.

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

A:  Money.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Sam Shepard, Caryl Churchill, Harold Pinter, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Paula Vogel, Eugene O'Neill, William Shakespeare, Simon Stephens, Sophocles, Seneca.

I wouldn't have become a playwright or kept on writing plays without these people:
TJ Terranova, Kevin Harrington, Jack Hrkach, Jim Utz, Laura Maria Censabella, Chris Shinn, Pippin Parker, Michael Weller, Frank Pugliese, Erin Callahan.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I'm a catharsis junkie. I want to weep openly and laugh uncontrollably. I dig psychological complexity and moral ambiguity but as long as it feels honest and it moves me, I'm good. And I go nuts over theater that lets us confront the essential stuff that is most scary to deal with in our day-to-day: mortality, sex, identity, etc.

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

A:  I feel like I'm just starting out! But this is what I've been learning, for what it's worth:
As an artist, figure out how it is you can be most honest and embrace it. As a professional, cultivate gratitude and generosity. Writing is difficult enough, so don't punish yourself; try to eat well and sleep well. And get the pages done. Just get the pages done.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Check out the New Voices Festival at The New School for Drama this spring for writers you should know. And next spring too!

The readings at Young Playwrights Inc in January are going to fantastic.

Anything that happens at Ars Nova should be on your calendar. Come check out The Netflix Plays in January, and all the Out Loud readings!

Ready Set Go Theatre Company and Ugly Rhino Productions are two companies I like to talk up.

And if you need a snack, check out The original is the most popular; spicy cheddar is my favorite.

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