Monday, March 16, 2015

I Interview Playwrights Part 725: Mary Elizabeth Hamilton


Mary Elizabeth Hamilton

Hometown: Brielle, NJ

Current Town: Brooklyn, NY

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I'm working on a play about prostitutes in Dubuque, Iowa, and a play about my hypochondriac aunt, and I'm collaborating on a play about Mickey Mouse. It's not really about Mickey Mouse. It's about these women who play Mickey Mouse in Disney World. It's really just a bunch of middle aged women in Orlando gossiping with Mickey Mouse heads on their laps…but that one's in an early stage.

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

A:  I was a big nerd in high school. I played bass guitar in the marching band and thought it was the coolest thing a person could do. My high school boyfriend and his brother made up the rest of the rhythm section and sophomore year their mom sewed us matching capes and hats that said "The Rhythm Bandits" in gold sparkly letters. I don't know how this explains who I am as a writer except to say that as seriously as I'd like to take myself as an artist there will always be a small part of me that would walk down the main streets of my hometown toe-heeling in a cape and beret while meticulously plucking out the baseline to "Louie Louie."

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

A:  Accessibility.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  I grew up seeing my uncle act in a bunch of Shakespeare plays and, like, early 20th century comedy of manners type stuff, and then when I was 12 I saw a college production of Orpheus Descending and it blew my mind. I went to my middle-school library and they didn't have any Tennessee Williams' plays so I thought I had uncovered this really obscure writer that no one else knew. I found some collections of his plays in a used bookstore and became completely obsessed, but I still thought for a long time that it was this secret I had discovered. Then a high school teacher recommended Beckett…then in college I took a class on Brecht, Caryl Churchill and Pinter, and wrote my thesis on Suzan-Lori Parks. So my theater education was pretty chronological, actually, but also kind of completely on accident.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  The kind that makes me forget I'm sitting in a chair in a theater, or that I'm sitting in a chair at all, or that I am a person with the ability to sit in chairs.

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

A:  I will give a piece of advice I just received myself the other day, the gist of which was: find a way to stop your brain from getting in the way of your instincts.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Go see my roommate Tony Meneses's play Guadalupe in the Guest Room, playing very near my hometown in NJ. It is excellent!


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1 comment:

Bobby Keniston said...

"Accessibility" is such a great answer to that question!