Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I Interview Playwrights Part 556: Stan Richardson

"I'm on the left; Matt Steiner is on the right."

Stan Richardson

Hometown: St. Louis, MO

Current Town: NYC

Q:  Tell me about the new Representatives show
A:  O Happy Happy Aztecs! is a short dark comedy about an aspiring actress and her gay best friend who move to NYC from Small Town USA. They have all the big dreams of 20-year-olds, but they are in their early-30's. And they carry with them their overwhelming need for safety and convenience which effectively castrates the dangerous and exotic city they have always wanted to call home.

Q:  What else are you working on?

A:  I'm writing the next play for The Representatives which will be a loose adaptation of Turgenev's Fathers & Sons called Bazarov. It's about, among other things, the entrance of a nihilist into a haven of well-meaning, but sedentary liberals; he blithely suggests that all of their useless ideals and institutions should be obliterated and this causes some problems. Unlike most of The Representatives' projects, Bazarov is simply too large to be done in an apartment and will be presented in a larger venue this coming August.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A:  Aside from having it meaningfully subsidized by the U.S. government? I would like for playwrights to devote themselves to work that makes them extremely uncomfortable. That discomfort is inherently entertaining and relevant. If what you are currently working on does not absolutely scare the shit out of you, keep me in the loop about future projects.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A:  Edward Albee; Pina Bausch; Caryl Churchill; Cherry Jones; Craig Lucas; Elizabeth Marvel; Jan Maxwell; Joe Orton; Wallace Shawn; Ivo van Hove; Lanford Wilson; and The Wooster Group.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I'm very drawn to theater that feels like it was created Just Now. The key to this, it seems to me, is not so much topicality but depth of feeling and conviction. Playwrights, unlike politicians, need not under-express their views in order to "stay in office." But another obstacle is the stultifying years-long wait to be produced. The Representatives has given me the opportunity to see my work onstage nearly as fast as I can write it. Matt Steiner, my co-artistic director and an actor for whom I've been ceaselessly inspired to write for the past seven years, and I try to streamline the production process. We figure out who we want to work with and where we'll be performing, then I start writing and a few months later we do the play. Most of these projects have been elegantly staged by Ben Vershbow, a pragmatic poet of a director. And we are continually having the pleasure of working with incredibly talented actors: mesmerizing ambassadors to whatever world we collectively dream up.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A:  I would give this advice to any playwright, including myself, at any stage of his/her career. It's a Godard quote: "At the moment that we can do cinema, we can no longer do the cinema that gave us the desire to do it." Let's acknowledge and honor our theatrical ancestry and then pop out some troublemakers of our own.

Q:  Plugs, please:
A:  Nobel Peace Prize nominee Bradley Manning has a rather important new show running off-off-Broadway right now down at Fort Meade. It's called The Obama Administration Is Going To Destroy the Role of Whistleblower If We Don't Do Something About It. Seats are still available! Please show your support:
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