Saturday, October 26, 2013

I Interview Playwrights Part 613: Meghan Kennedy



Meghan Kennedy

Hometown: Lake Champlain, NY

Current Town: Brooklyn, NY

Q:  Tell me about Too Much, Too Much, Too Many coming up at Roundabout.

A:  I’m really interested in grief. The ways it can take up space. The hold it has. That’s what the play is about at its core. But it’s also kind of a love letter to love. There are people in my life who have had the kind of love that Rose and James had and seeing it has always completely leveled me. I feel very lucky we got the cast that we did: James Rebhorn, Phyllis Sommerville, Luke Kirby, Rebecca Henderson- they’re all incredible. I want to put them in my pocket and carry them around with me.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I’m working on two new plays right now. One of them I’m not sure how to talk about yet and the other is based on my mother’s adolescence in Brooklyn in a very strict Italian-Catholic family. The story is focused around a moment in time in the winter of 1960 when a plane crashed in her neighborhood very close to her apartment. It’s a very personal play. There’s a lot of Italian spoken in it. A lot of Italian food. I’m always hungry when I work on it.

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 father used to take my older brother and I to get a pack of baseball cards every Saturday. We would come home, open up the waxy, maroon wrapping and break the stick of gum in half and save our pieces for later. We’d pull out our respective card collections, and sit on the carpet of our living room and start our trading ritual. If we were lucky, the pack would have a couple of gems like a Ricky Henderson or a Gary Carter or Dave Winfield or…the blessed Don Mattingly. He was the real treasure. We spent hours sitting on that carpet, talking out who belonged with me and who belonged with him as if we knew these guys personally and we knew who was best suited to take care of each of them. After we were done I would go back to my room with my newest additions and set them out on my bed and I would take out my half stick of gum. Then I would play out these long scenes between the players, fighting for that piece of gum. Most of the time I would end up just breaking the gum into tiny pieces, putting a piece on top of each of their cards. But if Don was involved, it was a different story. He got the whole piece every time.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Maria Irene Fornes. Beckett, Chekhov, Wallace Shawn, Tolstoy, Marilyn Robinson, Anne Carson (I know the last few are fiction writers but I love them very much).

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I like theater that makes me sweat. I like to stand up at the end and feel like I’ve been kicked in the head. I want to want to live on the set. I want to leave the theater feeling like I don’t know anything at all or like I didn’t know anything at all until this moment and now I know everything.

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

A:  Hang in there. Be hungry. Learn how to feed your head and your heart and your stomach. Search out the things that give you a little peace and do them on a regular basis. Say yes when someone offers you a ticket to see theater. Even when you’re tired and you want to go home, go to the theater. You will be happy you did. Even if it was terrible you will be happy. Allow yourself to follow your gut. Allow yourself to follow it to the places that you are sure are too stupid or too private or too dark. Make yourself go outside. Find a play or a book that feels like a friend and carry it with you. Put it in your bag and know it’s there. Pull it out whenever you feel a knot in your chest. And find someone who’s been doing this for a long time, someone you really respect, and sit them down and listen to them.





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