Sunday, November 17, 2013

I Interview Playwrights Part 621: Sarah Shaefer


Sarah Shaefer

Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

Current Town: New York, New York

Q:  Tell me about The Gin Baby.

A:  The Gin Baby is about a young woman whose life falls apart after getting sober and commits herself to a psych ward.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I'm currently working on two commissions from Kid Brooklyn Productions and one commission from Rising Phoenix Rep. For Kid Brooklyn, I'm workshopping All's Well That Ends Happy, a play about two ambitious porn actors who go to any lengths to climb up the ladder of sex industry success. It will be produced Fall of 2014 and Evan Caccippoli will direct. The second commission is for La Ronde Project, where Kid Brooklyn has commissioned eight playwrights, including Daniel Talbott, Charlotte Miller, Troy Deutsch, Nic Grelli myself and others, to write pieces inspired by Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde. That will go up at IRT July 3 - 5, 2014. I'm also working on a play for Rising Phoenix Rep's Cino Night series, that will be performed November 26. We start rehearsing on Monday!

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

A:  When I was five years-old, I was cast as a Dove of Peace in my Sunday school's Christmas play. Our costumes were white dresses with nude stockings. I had to get special permission from my mother to wear the nude stockings because she thought they were too provocative. She strictly forbid that I wear them anywhere else but on stage for my church play. That was the first experience where I was allowed to do things on stage that I was forbidden to do in real life. I love the sense of freedom I get on stage. I am allowed to be crass. I don't have to pretend I'm some kind of refined, conservative person who enjoys being polite.

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

A:  I like feeling like my skin just got shredded off with a cheese grater. I like feeling raw, overwhelmed and paralyzed after seeing a show. This doesn't always happen.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Sarah Kane, Jose Rivera, Daniel Talbott, Marcus Gardley, Harold Clurman, Jack Doulin, Edwin Sanchez.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Theater that gives me a spiritual experience excites me; theater that I have a visceral reaction too, much like going to a huge Sunday gospel service. I just wanna raise my hands up and say yeah!!! Like I was blind and now I see. That kind of theater.

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

A:  Write everyday. Focus on the writing. Do what you need to do to keep writing. Being accountable to someone else helps me write. Deadlines keep me disciplined, but before I had the luxury of deadlines, it was just me and my desire to write, so taking a class really helped me get out the pages.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:   I have two productions coming up. The Gin Baby, directed by Daniel Talbott, produced by Mermaid Sand Productions and Kid Brooklyn Productions, running at IRT (154 Christopher Street) January 19, 2014 - February 2, 2014. You can buy tickets at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/476076. All's Well That Ends Happy, directed by Evan Caccioppoli, starring Nic Grelli, James Leighton and Briana Packen, produced by Kid Brooklyn Productions, coming up in Fall 2014. For Summer 2014, Rising Phoenix Rep will also be producing the Beach Plays in San Francisco. For more information on Kid Brooklyn Productions, you can check them out here: http://www.kidbrooklynproductions.org and for Rising Phoenix Rep, you can check them out here: http://www.risingphoenixrep.org.


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