Friday, March 08, 2013

I Interview Playwrights Part 555: Basil Kreimendahl




Basil Kreimendahl

Hometown: Louisville, KY

Current Town: Iowa City, IA

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  A new play, that takes place in Louisville, KY; it's about an unconventional drag house on the wrong side of the Ohio River flood wall, and their desire and need for dignity and belonging. They take performing realness to another level by preparing to give the performance of a lifetime at the Kentucky Derby. It's a play that explores "passing" not in terms of gender but in class.

I'm also working on an adaptation of La Ronde, with one of my favorite directors at the University of Iowa, Nathan Halvorson.

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

A:  Because I quit school young, at 14, I've been working full-time for a long time. Back then, one of my jobs was doing yard work for a lawn company. One day, I had a toothache, the summer heat was suffocating and the weed whacker kept breaking. I'd have to stop and fix it over and over again. In a moment of frustration, I stopped for a minute and sat down on the grass. It was the first time I actually took in the house and the neighborhood. There was a fountain in the yard, a statue and a Mercedes parked in the driveway, and I thought just one of these things could fix a whole lot of toothaches.

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

A:  At this moment, what I wish for theatre is that we stretch our ideas about what  we think is commercially viable. I hope that the kind of theatre our audiences want to see encompasses a broader range of forms, stories and experiments than we give them credit for.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  My heroes are not just my heroes because their work inspires me, but because I like how I see them walk in the world. So just to name a few, Naomi Wallace, Lucy Thurber, Christina Anderson, Polly Carl, Jen Silverman, Kia Corthron, Francine Volpe, Bonnie Metzgar... apparently, a lot of amazing women.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  This is one of those things that's bound to change with time, I'm still discovering things that excite me. I'm interested in work that I want to be in conversation with, because it challenges me and moves me. Plays that queer everything. Work that has a bold sincerity, even when it's being ironic. Theatre that goes to those places we don't often go, where it's a little frightening to go, but once we've been we're not the same anymore.

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

A:  Write the next play. Read something other than plays. Finally, to quote Mama Cass, "You gotta make your own kind of music, sing your own special song."

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  My classmates, the group of talented playwrights I'm about to graduate with: Kat Sherman, Bonnie Metzgar, Deborah Yarchun, and I have to include a graduating director from Austin, Will Davis. A new project Gabrielle Reisman and I organized, The Iowa/Austin Exchange. Last but not least, a big congrats to my dear friend and fellow Iowan, Andrew Saito for his playwright residency at Cutting Ball.


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