Sunday, April 20, 2014

I Interview Playwrights Part 653: Joshua H. Cohen

Joshua H. Cohen

Hometown: East Greenwich, RI

Current Town: New York, NY. Hudson Heights. I can see the GW Bridge from my bedroom.

Q:  What are you working on now? 

A:  I’m writing this from the control booth during a session for the world premiere recording of my musical Tamar of the River. So that’s exciting. I always have several projects going simultaneously. Currently, I’m doing a down-to-the-studs gut renovation of my play Sam I Am, in response to some great feedback I got following a reading in December; writing a new opening number for my musical Ordinary Island, a show I’m eager to see move forward; and a new score, my first rock musical, Burned, updating A.A. Milne’s play The Lucky One to the 2007-08 financial crisis.

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

A:  As a kid, I always found theater more interesting than real life. Which I suppose explains a lot, but doesn’t make for a decent origin myth.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes? 

A:  Tom Stoppard, for the way he hides fragile and broken hearts behind promiscuous and robust intellect. Arthur Miller, for the urgency with which he personalized the political. Songwriters like Michael John La Chiusa, Jeanine Tesori, Flaherty & Ahrens, expanding the kinds of stories that can be told in song and how they can be told. And of course, John Eisner: every play development program I’ve encountered seems to be following in the footsteps of what he started at the Lark.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you? 

A:  I’m fascinated by how fiction shapes fact, how the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves become truth. Performance as the quintessentially creative act – especially in the political sphere. Come at reality sideways, and I’ll follow you.

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

A:  Be nice to everybody. I sent out hundreds of submissions every year, but both full productions I had last year came out of friendships I’d cultivated for years.
Plugs, please: The Tamar of the River world premiere recording will be released this summer from Yellow Sound Label, featuring most of the original cast, including Margo Seibert (Adrian in Rocky) as Tamar. Check and for details.

crossposted to Kanjy Blog

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