Friday, January 30, 2015

I Interview Playwrights Part 716: David Hilder

David Hilder

Hometown: Vienna, VA

Current Town: New York NY

Q:  What are you working on now? 

A:   I'm actually in the middle of my MFA thesis workshop production at Hunter College as I write this -- that play is called The Moment Before it All Went Wrong. This spring I will continue to refine and complete drafts of three other plays, including an adaptation of Kafka's The Trial in the style of a caper comedy (I call it Just Try!), and a new piece that's really rough called Eight Near-Death Experiences. The best thing about grad school has definitely been the massive amount of writing I've gotten done because there has been an external source demanding that I do it.

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

A:   Wow, that's a really interesting question. Well, okay, when I was a kid, my father was in the Navy -- he was a 30-year career Naval officer -- so we moved every few years or so. At one point, that meant I went to four schools in three years (started 7th grade in Texas, finished it in Virginia, went to a magnet school thing for 8th grade, and then went to high school). I think those things contributed to my learning to be funny, because I had to make friends quickly. In a way, a military childhood is the perfect training ground for a life in theatre, where you're constantly meeting and bonding with new people and then detaching; some stay in your life, most don't, and that's okay.

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

A:  I wish I could figure out how to make theatre something young people were dying to attend -- more than movies/TV/Netflix/screen-based whatever. I'm not sure that answers the question, but that's on my mind a lot.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes? 

A:   Tony Kushner just amazes the living bejesus out of me, because his plays are so ferociously intelligent without skimping on emotional content and connection. And I am always interested in Brecht's plays, because despite the fact that he was aiming to distance the audience from the play, the stories are unfailingly moving to me.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you? 

A:   It sounds kind of fundamental, but I really like plays with strong characters who relate to each other and have big wants. I also love plays with story, rather than purely experiential pieces.

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

A:   Don't get hung up on your first play. It might be genius, but it might also be a step you need to take to get to your next (better) play. And the one after that. And the one after that. So listen, learn, revise and refine, but don't forget to move forward also.

Q:  Plugs, please: 

A:  My play Drown will be produced by Acadiana Repertory Theatre in Lafayette, LA in September, and I can't wait to see it in production.

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