Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I Interview Playwrights Part 623: Lauren Ferebee

Lauren Ferebee

Hometown: Dallas, TX

Current Town: Brooklyn, NY (for two more weeks...then Spartanburg, SC until June 30)

Q: Congrats on being A Hub-Bub Artist is Residence. Tell me about that program. What will you work on while you're there?

A: Thanks! The program brings together four artists-in-residence, one filmmaker, two visual artists and one theatre artist, living together in Spartanburg, SC. We live in a building that also houses The Showroom, a performance space/gallery space in downtown Spartanburg, SC. My time will be split between collaborating with fellow residents, working on community-based projects (including site-specific work, I hope), working with the Hub-Bub organization and furthering my own portfolio of writing and theatre work.

Q: What else are you working on?

A: I just finished a commission for Spark and Echo Arts that is a reflection on and response to Psalm 137, a experimental video project that will be displayed on their website soon. I'm currently re-drafting Blood Quantum, a play about Texas and magic, finishing a half-hour original pilot and writing a first draft of an untitled road trip screenplay. I'm also working on two different benefits: one that Winter Miller is helming, on December 17th at the New Ohio, and one that will be part of V-Day's One Billion Rising for Justice in NYC - a fundraiser for the amazing City of Joy that will feature extraordinary new work engaging theatrically with justice. That will be in February.

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 a kid, I couldn't stand still. I used to talk to my mom and just jump up and down while I was talking to her; when I got excited about something I would run around the house as an expression of my excitement. I remember really clearly the first time it occurred to me that I could be a writer - for a living - I was composing a poem in purple pen in my Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper. After that I COULD NOT stand still. I was just running up and down the hallways thinking about all the different things I could write.

Shortly thereafter (I was 10), I began my first novel, which was about a girl that used to stare wistfully into a stream that ran through a wheat field. I think the combined facts of that story say pretty much everything about who I am as a writer and a theatre artist. Not much has changed. Less wheat fields, maybe.

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

A: More women playwrights and playwrights of diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds being produced everywhere, all the time. I think we're very slowly moving in that direction, but if I could snap my fingers and have it just be that way, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A: In terms of writers, I greatly admire Caryl Churchill, who I hadn't read much of until everyone interacting with my work told me I had to go read her. then I fell in love. Meredith Monk, for being extraordinary and strange. I also idolize Thomas Ostermeier and his aesthetic: I saw his Hedda Gabler at BAM in 2007 and it's stuck with me in great detail since.

Q: What kind of theater excites you?

A: I love people that do bold and unusual work that strikes at the heart. Some of the best work I've seen in New York has been with Flux Theatre Ensemble, who I'm lucky enough to work with as an associate artist. When I was just out of school and saw The Lesser Seductions of History, it rocked my world pretty hard. I also pretty much adore everything The Debate Society does and continues to do with their work, and I love the honest process of companies like The Assembly and The TEAM, who work so thoroughly and beautifully creating courageous and innovative work.

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

A: Go where your intuition takes you, write a bunch and then find a teacher that kicks your butt on structure so you learn how to put the plays together beautifully. Then, go make plays however you want.

Q: Plugs, please:

A: My short play Voir Dire goes up on December 17th as part of the Mad and Merry Theatre Company's Fractured Fables series at the Access Yheater'. In February, look out for my teen superhero play Invisibility, or Tiny Rockets, done by Adaptive Arts. Stay tuned for the Night of Joy benefit, also in February. Check out my work on Indie Theater Now! or check out my website

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