Friday, July 11, 2014

I Interview Playwrights Part 675: David McGee



David McGee

Hometown:
Tokyo is my birthtown. Temple City, California, is my high school town. New York is my lifetown.

Q:  Tell me about Party In The USA.

A:  Party in the USA! is a drug comedy about the financial collapse. It's based in part on the life of Joshua William Gelb, who's directing it. As the economy was collapsing in 2008, Josh was temping at a major financial institution, illegally squatting in the Plaza Hotel, and did acid for the first time. That's pretty much the perfect summary of the current US: stoned out of your mind, illegally and temporarily in the lap of luxury, aware of the epic shit that's about to hit the global fan, and unable/unwilling to do anything about it. It's a screamlaugh of anger and shock at the state of the financial world, a ridiculous picaresque, and a full-on manic dance party all at once. It's got Russian folktales and German anarchists and talking bears and bucketloads of Bud Light Lime. Plus jokes!

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 three years old, I apparently came to my mother, fairly distraught, and told her that my butt hurt. "Where does it hurt?" she said. I pointed at my elbow and said "Right here." "Honey," she said, "that's your elbow." My eyes went wide with shock and worry. "Well if THAT'S my elbow," I said, "what happened to my butt?"

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

A:  STOP WRITING BORING PLAYS. STOP PRODUCING BORING PLAYS. I don't mean to shout but OK YES I MEAN TO SHOUT. You can do literally ANYTHING in a theater, so you better have a goddamn good excuse if what you choose to do is have rich people talking in a living room about their feelings.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  A production of a play called All the Luck that's... um... about rich people talking in a room about their feelings. BUT (elbow?) it's a hotel room rather than a living room and also it scrupulously refuses to be boring. I think. It's got leprechauns in it, if that helps. I think it helps. I'm also the cohost of a sex and relationship advice podcast that doesn't really give advice. It's called Sex for Smart People (That Means You). As of yet, no leprechauns. There's time yet.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  At the moment, I'd say they're The TEAM, Witness Relocation, Anne Washburn, Dave Malloy, Young Jean Lee, the Krepsko Theater Group in Prague, and whoever's giving Arjen Robben diving lessons (HEY-O!).

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  My favorite kind of theater is theater that acts like a fucking race. The kind of race that slow and steady doesn't win. Vibrant and kinetic: a collective fever-dream.

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

A:  Skip the exposition. We'll figure it out. And remind everybody to hurry!

Q:  Plugs, please:


A:  Party in the USA! At Underbelly's Topside theater as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe! Tickets! A link to our Fractured Atlas donation page because (surprise!) we are self-funding and (double surprise!) we don't have any money. So if, you know, your personal finances aren't in crisis, we sure would love your help.


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