Thursday, August 07, 2014

I Interview Playwrights Part 681: Caroline Prugh

Caroline Prugh

Childhood Home: Alexandria, VA

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Q:  Tell me about It's Only Kickball, Stupid.

A:  This play is about navigating the end of childhood and the beginning of adolescence - scary, awkward stuff. But it doesn’t end there; instead it telescopes ahead to the present. So the cast has to play both twelve and thirty-five; be able to shift seamlessly between high-energy comedy and quiet naturalism; break the fourth wall and restore it; and do all of this in the round.

Fortunately, we have a powerhouse cast – Autumn Hurlbert, Eric T. Miller, Lori Prince and Debargo Sanyal. They are rock stars.

And bless Adam Fitzgerald and everyone at kef productions, I brought the first act of this play to them and they asked me to hurry and write the second. And then they committed to producing it and here we are. I know this isn’t how it usually happens and exactly how lucky I am - trust me.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I have a play I wrote from a story by director Kate Holland called No Provenance in the Fringe that starts performances Sunday (8/10) at noon.

I’m adapting an earlier play of mine with music (I also write music) called At Daybreak into a concert musical with director Jimmy Maize, producer David Carpenter and orchestrator Eli Zoller.

Thanks to producer Doug Nevin, I’m working with director Kevin Newbury on a play about two one hundred year old women called On This Morning.

Director Simón Hanuaki and I are developing a trunk show/music hall theater piece called Decline and Fall; or A Guide to How the End Begins for Those Too Big to Fail.

I’m writing the book for an original musical with composer Patty Weinstein.

I’m co-writing a play with director Cat Miller about the marriage of German chemists Clara Immerwahr and Fritz Haber. Cat and I are slated to do a reading of another play of mine at the end of September with Voyage Theater Company.

I’m sitting on three freshly completed first drafts of plays no one has seen.

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

A:  Jo March. My mom read me Little Women and I fell in love with Jo March. I thought she was the absolute coolest character (even though it bothered me that she ended up with The Professor and not Laurie, I didn’t get why until I was older).

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  My high school drama teacher, Robin Bennett. She instilled in me a sense of professionalism that led me to a professional career in the theater.

Stuart Thompson – the classiest man on Broadway. I can’t begin to codify all he taught me about theater over the eleven years I worked for him – particularly how producers are also “creative” and the nonmonetary value of commercial production.

My teachers: Connie Congdon, Wendy Woodson, Suzanne Doogan, Michael Birtwistle, Kelly Stuart, Chuck Mee, Gideon Lester, Anne Bogart, Christian Parker, Deborah Brevoort, and Frank Pugliese.

My friend and teaching colleague Gregory Moss. We’ve logged countless hours discussing the craft and process of playwrighting.

Q:  Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

A:  My wife Paige - her jokes, her stories, her timing, her rhythm. She’s the funny one. I just write it down. She doesn’t want to perform in public, ever, and I don’t want to see her innate brilliance go to waste. …Is it considered stealing when you’ve been together for nineteen years?

Also I deeply love the work of Pina Bausch, Yanira Castro, Kathy Couch, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, PJ Harvey, William Wells Brown, Cindy Sherman, Virginia Woolf, Bert O. States and Walter Kerr.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  All theater excites me. Even when it’s bad, even when it’s boring - I’m interested in figuring out why that is so. What makes something not work? What do we mean by that? I love this medium and I want to explore all that is possible within it.

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

A:  Write, write, write. Find your people, make theater. Don’t get hung up on what other people are doing, it’s just a distraction (and it won’t get your plays written).

Go see as much theater as possible. Particularly if you think you won’t like it, if it doesn’t involve your friends (but still support your friends too).

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Christina Quintana’s play Enter Your Sleep at the Fringe.

Libby Skala’s play Felicitas at the Fringe.

My play with Kate Holland No Provenance at the Fringe.

Be on the lookout for Nellie Tinder’s new piece this winter.

It’s Only Kickball, Stupid. August 28- September 14th. For tickets call 866-811-4111 or visit

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