Hometown: Post Falls, Idaho, a town without a theatre company. I had to drive out to Spokane, Washington to see my first play produced. Not that Spokane isn't nice, but I'd love to see a working playhouse in my old stomping grounds.
Current Town: Philadelphia, a town with more theatre companies than you can shake a stick at. If shaking a stick at theatre companies is your sort of thing.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am currently in the midst of the Core Writers Residency at InterAct Theatre Company. While there, I've been working on two plays. One is about the Amazonian Guard, the women who guarded Gaddafi during his time in Libya. The other is about an indie game developer dealing with the absurdity and misogyny of the video game industry. I also have an upcoming commission for a children's show that I can't really talk about right now because it's not officially announced.
Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person
A: Apparently, shortly after learning to walk, I would entertain my mother's friends by running into the living room, diving face-first into the carpet, and then taking a bow. I feel like that pretty much explains my aesthetic. Or my desperate need for approval. Or both. I'm going to say both.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: I'd like to see a lot less living rooms. First off, it's making me realize how much better my living room could look. But also, I feel like most of my favorite plays are the ones that venture out into the world, that take me somewhere I haven't been. When I go to see a show, I want characters who travel, explore, sit on something other than couch.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: My early playwriting heroes were Albee and David Ives. Reading their plays in those impressionable high school years taught me everything I needed to know to get started. Nowadays, my main hero is Tracy Letts, who proved that you can be a exceedingly talented playwright and actor with only a high school diploma, which is my current journey. I also have huge playwright crushes on Annie Baker and Sam Hunter, Baker for seemingly figuring out this whole theater thing at our relatively young age, and Hunter for mining a lot of amazing stories from his northern Idaho roots. Gem State represent!
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: The kind that invites me to come along and play. Which is not necessarily to say audience participation, though here in Philly, there's some really cool work that directly engages the audience. But more the kind of theater that creates an exciting playground of looks, people, ideas, and then invites me to come along for the ride. With some of my favorite writers, like Letts, Baker, Hunter, Will Eno, Sarah Kane, Tony Kushner, Suzan-Lori Parks, Johnna Adams, you feel that passion for not just presenting a story, but sharing it. That's the answer right there. I like theater that shares.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Two things. First, write what you haven't seen on stage, but always wanted to see. If it's a story you genuinely want to see, chances are other people do, too. Second, get to the end of the first draft. I'm horrible about trying to re-write before I finish the first draft, so for me, most of the battle is just getting to the end.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: The Private Green, my Amazonian Guard play, will have a reading through the Philadelphia New Play Initiative in June. I don't know the exact date and time yet, but they're on Facebook, so you can check that out. Everything else has yet to be announced, so just keep Googling my name. I know I will.
Crossposted to the Kanjy Blog
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