Thursday, February 13, 2014

I Interview Playwrights Part 639: David Stallings

David Stallings

Hometown: Galveston, Tx.

Current Town: NYC

Q:  Tell me about Dark Water.

A:  When the Deepwater Horizon oil spill happened in April of 2010, fellow MTWorks Co-founders Antonio Minino and Cristina Alicea told me to write a play about it. Being from the Gulf Coast, it was certainly a topic that haunted and enraged me. But I had no desire to write about BP, the frustrating cover ups surrounding the spill, or the shady chemical clean up that ensued. Several months later however, when dolphins began to have mass miscarriages at sea and shrimp were being born with no eyes (yes this is happening in the Gulf), I decided to write about the animals. Dark Water follows the animals and their journey through the oil spill, using different forms of poetry and song for each species. Rehearsals are inspiring. We are all so excited--the entire team. And director Heather Cohn is truly doing a remarkable job. She assembled the most positive team of actors I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I am also working on a new play, The Baby Monitor. This was originally a twenty minute play I wrote for Original Binding Productions evening of One Acts. It is now growing into a Full Length Play. The Baby Monitor is about a gay couple raising a child. The child is taken from them when a relative falsely accuses them of inappropriate behavior.

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

A:  I remember being on a beach in Galveston, Tx. I was about twelve at the time. It was dawn. And the beach was covered with baby eels that had washed ashore. They were snapping and writhing on the sand, dying. I was with several adults who were equally disturbed at the sight. We knew the eels would die if they did not make it back in the water. So the group of us grabbed some sticks and tried to get the eels to snap on them and toss them back. We got some in the water, but the waves would just wash them back to shore. It was hopeless. I remember crying about that and wishing there was something I could do.

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

A:  I think the US needs a National Theater again that employs theater artist and is not merely commercial based.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Shakespeare, Hallie Flanagan, Moliere, Tennessee Williams, and Harold Clurman for the start of what is a long list.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I am excited by theater that challenges our cultural and social perspectives. Also, I want theater to be theatrical. I love magic, emotion, and poetry. I love plays with big casts and big ideas, new ideas.

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

A:  Break the rules. Don't listen to producers who want to limit your creativity, cast size, length, number of locations, etc. Let's create a new American Theater!

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Dark Water runs March 14th - 29th! Advance tickets are $18 ($15 Students/$12 Seniors) and are available online or by calling 866-811-4111. Tickets may also be purchased in-person at the theater ½ hour prior to performance.
Running Time: 110 min. One intermission. The Theater at the 14th Street Y is located on 344 East 14th Street (at 1st Avenue)

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