Friday, November 30, 2012
I Interview Playwrights Part 532: Mira Gibson
Photo credit: Benjamin Kosman
Hometown: Sanbornton, NH
Current Town: Brooklyn, NY
Q: What are you working on now?
A: At the moment I have a few scripts in the works that were inspired by my sex industry work as a foot fetish dominatrix. FATHERFUCKER, my latest play, is about a young woman desperate for fast cash. She is presented with an opportunity to be a “foot fetish model”. On her first day of work, she expects to show up at a club and have her work supervised by a bouncer. Instead, she arrives at a private residential studio apartment in the East Village where a 22 Korean-American student struggles through an English explanation of “always keeping a sharp object nearby” and “no foot-jobs”. There is no bouncer or protection of any kind, and she is left alone to navigate through the dark and often humorous underbelly of this very strange and psychological fetish. The play also endeavors to coin the phrase “father fucker”. We all have an understanding of what a “mother fucker” is. A mother fucker is a man who will likely rape your wife in front of you and kill your kids with no mercy, but what is a father fucker? I’m drawn to this concept in large part because I was a father fucker, literally, not by choice, but through childhood abuse, and because of that I destroy myself and others in very specific ways when I’m less within my own control. In my play, I’m exploring the definition of “father fucker” through the journey of my protagonist. And the beauty of this play is that I’m an authority on foot fetishism, I lived it, and though I got out, I’m still deeply fascinated. I’m writing this topic as a screenplay and TV show as well….yes, TV show…not my idea by the way, but I was encouraged so what the hell?
Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.
A: It’s no secret that I was sexually abused by my dad from about 5 years old to age 13. My dad is a textbook pedophile and is currently in prison for the abuse he inflicted on me and my twin sister. This trauma is absolutely the source of nearly 90% of my writing, especially since I often write about myself and the very tangled and specific mess I am left with. What am I supposed to do with all this? Writing helps me figure it out. And I feel extremely lucky that I have the courage to stand here and reveal myself. I give a voice to a lot of people who have had the same experience as me. Something astounding, which I think about often, is that every single time, every single time without fail that I’ve had a play reading, or production, or screening of my movie WARFIELD, at least one person from the audience has approached me afterwards to share that that happened to them to. I try not to write bleak stories, however. So even though I write on this topic, often the soul of the story is about the hope and willingness to change, improve, and evolve into our best selves. I always wanted my dad to be a great father, and you know what, he did too. And as a kid I honestly saw him try, but he always failed. In my writing I give my dad a chance to succeed, and be the person I always deeply hoped he would be.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: Only two things: most importantly I would change the number of people it reaches. Theater, by the very art form that it is, is incredibly limited in the number of people that can see it, just from a geographical standpoint. I’ve actually have been getting into writing movies in large part because it can reach more people. The second I would change is its cost. I cannot tell you how much theater I opt not to see because it’s too costly. And then I have my dear friends who mention that with certain programs I can see a play for $35, sorry but that’s too much for me. I should mention, however, that I’m perpetually on the brink of extinction financially.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: The reason I write plays, and not books or poems or short werewolf novellas (which was my childhood dream by the way) is because a friend of my mothers handed me Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke the summer before I went to college. Reading that play stirred something in me that compelled me to focus on playwriting from that moment on. So I give huge credit to Williams. Another hero of mine is Paula Vogel, whose work I was introduced to in college. Reading How I Learned To Drive was a pivotal point for me because it showed me you can reveal yourself and it just might make you a better writer. Other heroes of mine are actually playwright peers and friends whose plays and even personalities inspire me on a daily basis. In lieu of listing them here, just check out anyone who’s ever been in Youngblood.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: Dirty downtown theater, baby!
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: To keep writing. You want to write because you have something to say and that’s no accident. If people didn’t need to hear it, you wouldn’t want to say it. What you’re doing is important. And never, for one second, believe that rejection is an indication that what you’re writing doesn’t matter. It matters, and you matter.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: Please check out my feature film, WARFIELD which was the pilot project of my new theater and film production company, Summer Smoke Productions (yes, named after the Tennessee Williams play) http://summersmokeproductions.squarespace.com/ In addition to screening at film festivals, I’ve started an initiative to distribute to prisons, registered sex offender rehabilitation programs, and to organizations that council survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence.