Thursday, April 04, 2013

I Interview Playwrights Part 568: Clare Barron


Clare Barron

Hometown: Wenatchee, WA

Current Town: Brooklyn, NY

Q:  Tell me about your Summerworks show.

A:  BABY SCREAMS MIRACLE is a play about a freak windstorm that blows down all the trees in a small town in eastern Washington state. I started writing the play for Clubbed Thumb’s Biennial Commission contest. We were supposed to incorporate all these different ingredients into a 10-page sample. I can’t remember everything but some of the ingredients that inspired this play were: the PBS documentary “Unforgettable Elephants,” Joan Baez’s “Tears of Rage,” the character of the Matriarch, a man in uniform, and body parts that don’t work right. I also wanted to write a play about religious people who use prayer to deal with their emotional/existential/relationship problems, so there’s a bunch of prayer in there too. I’m so excited to have Portia Krieger directing! And Maria Striar and Clubbed Thumb are gifts from God.

Q:  What else are you working on?

A:  I’m acting in a piece about Mars and Russian cosmonauts and video games spearheaded by the awesome Ben Vershbow. I just got back from Beirut where I was working on an Arabic-English production of Maria Irene Fornes’ MUD with a theater company called Masrah Ensemble, and we’re looking for new homes for the production outside of Lebanon. Sometime between June 2nd and June 22nd I’ll be frantically writing a new full-length play and having a Bloodworks reading for Youngblood. I have no idea what it’ll be about but I think it might involve ballet…

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 was the last day of 7th grade, and a group of girls and I wanted to hold a mud wrestling competition to celebrate. We didn’t have any mud so we each whipped up a big batch of chocolate pudding and carted it over to Jennifer’s house in tupperwares and dumped it in this little kiddie swimming pool. I forgot my swimming suit and so I had to borrow one of Jennifer’s. Jennifer was athletic and golden brown and wore bikinis that were much higher cut than my sad, floral tankini so my pubic hair was tufting out all over the place. Everyone wrestled. It was super fun and I kept falling down and it was hot and the pudding was beginning to stink. A car circled past Jennifer’s yard once. Then it circled again and stopped. The man inside rolled down the window. "What is that?" he asked. I sauntered over to the car – covered head-to-toe in brown goo and so, so proud – and told him it was pudding. He looked at me and then he reached his arm out the car window and said, "Come closer. I wanna touch it." There was a moment and then we were all screaming and shrieking and the whole pack of 12 girls was sprinting down the middle of the road covered in brown goo. I remember pushing my way to the front of the pack and my legs felt so strong and the asphalt was so hot against the bottom of my feet and I was filled with total terror and total glee. Running away from Pudding Man was one of the shining moments of my adolescence. I don’t think I’d ever felt that powerful.

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

A:  More neighborhood and community theater! I think it’d be cool if neighborhoods and small towns did plays by local writers. I also think it’d be cool if people did theater just for fun like when kids put on shows for the neighbors but with grown-ups.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  I’ve learned a ton from Deb Margolin, David Herskovits, and Annie Baker. I think they’re three of the most singular, daring and smart theater makers out there.

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

A:  Here’s some advice that’s helped me: write whatever you want, write from desire and don’t be afraid of writing stupid. Love yourself and show love to everyone else. Support other artists. Find people and read your work out loud. Find people you love to work with – this is the most important and meaningful thing.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A: Come to Summerworks! clubbedthumb.org

BABY SCREAMS MIRACLE
by Clare Barron
directed by Portia Krieger
May 24 - June 2

PHOEBE IN WINTER
by Jen Silverman
directed by Mike Donahue
June 7 - 16

LA BREA
by Gregory S. Moss
directed by Adam Greenfield
June 20 - 29

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Come to the Youngblood Brunch this Sunday! And come to Bloodworks this May & June! ensemblestudiotheatre.org
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And this Thursday I’ll be reading scenes from Syrian playwright Mohammad Al Attar’s recent play COULD YOU PLEASE LOOK INTO THE CAMERA? as part of Masrah Ensemble’s Doomed By Hope Theatre Series. It’s at The Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU at 5PM. masrahensemble.org


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