Friday, May 10, 2013

I Interview Playwrights Part 579: Lindsey Ferrentino

 

Lindsey Ferrentino

Hometown: Merritt Island, Florida

Current Town: Brooklyn, New York

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I've been polishing up some plays, ironing out wrinkles for upcoming readings.

But I'm excited to be diving head first into researching and writing a new play, BURN GAME about female soldiers coming home from Iraq, reintegrating burn victims through virtual reality, video game therapy. The research phase is incredibly important to me when I write and I'm getting to work with a dear friend of mine who is a psychologist at a VA center, do some volunteer work, and interviews. Reading and hearing these first hand trauma testimonies has been so informative about how we write our own narrative, or avoid doing so.

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

A:  My dad is a professional magician and comedian, who, throughout my childhood, practiced his illusions at the dinner table until I understood the mechanics behind his tricks.
 
I grew up in the back row of comedy clubs and theaters, watching rooms full of adults miss the sleight of hand that I knew so well. Having already memorized my dad's act, I'd instead watch the faces in the audience-- eyes wide, laughing hysterically, eating out of the palm of his hand, wanting so deeply to be transported and believe in the impossible.

When I was about six, and my dad was out on the lawn talking to a neighbor, I kept opening the front door, waving my behind, clapping my hands, obnoxiously vying attention. After several requests to stop interrupting, my dad asked me why I'd continue... I said, "I'm like you. I have to go for the laugh."

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
 
A:  Okay. Here we go--
Cheaper to produce, cheaper to see.
That new work was a nationally cherished pastime, like baseball! With football stadium crowds knocking down the doors of theaters across the country, not just New York.
...And that a fairy flew to readings of all playwrights everywhere, turning them into realized productions.
One can dream...

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
 
A:  Finding Edward Albee, back in high school, was like taking a sledgehammer and breaking open what I thought a play was and could be, how our failure to communicate was a greater tragedy than any plot I was trying to wring out. Katori Hall's plays feel to me like beautiful explosions that make me want to wake up from a sort of dream.

Also, my extended family is made up of many brilliant storytellers who trade punchlines, sarcasm, and gossip... where conversation is treated as entertainment.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?
 
A:  Theater that feels present.
That addresses what it means to be alive right now, in this year.
That makes me laugh and then punches me in the gut.
That finds poetry in the mundane and magic in the most unlikely of places...

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

A:  Find actors who understand the worlds you create, your words and rhythms. Find directors you trust to enhance your vision. And readers who are willing to tackle your early drafts, and identify your intentions.
 
Surround yourself with positive people whose talent and opinions you respect, cherish, and need... Whose work inspires yours... who dream of the same kind of uptopia... then fight like hell for your people.

Oh yeah... and also, just write... All the time...

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  My MFA comrades Kristen Palmer, Daniel John Kelly, and Rob Cardazone will face the world with beautiful new works in hand, outside the doors of our grad. program. Watch our for them!

In June, my play--
MOONLIGHT ON THE BAYOU will have a second reading, directed by Patricia McGregor whose specificity in a rehearsal room is astounding.

Another play of mine MAGIC MAN will have a workshop at NYTW, directed by the wonderful Tamilla Woodward - who I can't wait to collaborate with for the first time.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lindsey Ferrentino is an amazing talent! I have seen several of her plays and she is headed to the top. this girl iss on fire!