Thursday, August 14, 2014

I Interview Playwrights Part 684: Cory Conley

Cory Conley

Hometown:  Middletown, NY

Current Town: New York, NY (Washington Heights)

Q:  Tell me about Magic Kingdom.

A: MAGIC KINGDOM is an imaginary autobiographical work (narrated by an imaginary playwright named, um, Cory) about a trip to a theme park in Florida. There's a brother and a sister, each of them confronting the end of a relationship, who use this theme park to play out their secret fantasies and (perhaps) avoid the scary next stage of adulthood. Also, there's a guy in a suit named Mickey. I play "myself," and it's pretty wild.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  No upcoming productions, but I'm at work on a musical, which should be ready in about 7.5 years. Also I recently finished shooting a short film I wrote called HENRY AND HENRY.

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

A:  I think we should write plays about big, important things. And we should be honest that we're doing that. And we should stop being defensive about it. So many writers say things like this: "Oh, I swear, this ISN'T a political play." Or, "it's not ABOUT gay rights / Afghanistan / child abuse / whatever." Well, why not? If you can't admit that the theater you're making is about something, why spend your precious time and resources on it? Like Albee said, every play should be an act of aggression against the status quo. We should just own it.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Tennessee Williams, for his elegance and prolificness. Stephen Sondheim, for his refusal to "sell out." Cole Porter, for being a genius. Caryl Churchill, for the same reason.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  It's weird, but I get most excited by slow, life-like theater. Especially when people complain about how slow it is. Like, "The Flick" by Annie Baker. One of my favorite theatrical experiences ever. I hope we see more stuff like that.

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

A:  Don't underestimate how hard it is. It's a full-time job; treat it like one. Also, try to push yourself to write something different every time. You'll discover you're curious/passionate about more things than you think you are.

Q:  Plugs, please:



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