Saturday, July 11, 2015

I Interview Playwrights Part 760: Thomas J. Soto

Thomas J. Soto

Hometown: Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan.

Current Town: I currently spend my time between NYC and Oxford Valley, Pennsylvania.

Q: Tell me about Trail of Tears.

A: Trail of Tears is not only a play about the tragedy from which it humbly borrows its name; it is a narrative exploring how the systematic marginalization of Native Americans has done a permanent damage to their culture and this nation. Through satire and docudrama the play examines the incredible tenacity and resilience of Native Americans and reinforces the idea that no genocide can ever truly be successful.

Q: What else are you working on now?

A: I am co-authoring a new docudrama play (with Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj) called The Ballad of Trayvon Martin and I am workshopping another one of my plays called Gods and Dogs this year. I am also working on my first poetry collection The Second Circle.

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 consider myself to be a very pragmatic person and I suppose that by proxy my pragmatics make their way into my writing. When I was about thirteen, I interviewed my uncle for a school project and learned that he and my mother had different fathers; I learned that the cause was infidelity and because I love my grandmother so much I couldn’t bring myself to immediately judge her. This was a learning moment for me and taught me the valuable lesson that people are flawed and that dealing with information, situations and people sensibly is paramount.

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

A: The extravagant awards ceremonies.

Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A: T.S. Eliot once said that “Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them. There is no third.” Dante taught me to love poetry and Shakespeare taught me to love the theater; they are the writers who gave me my appreciation for literature and there truly is no third.

Q: What kind of theater excites you?

A: I am excited by plays that have a meaningful narrative; I have recently become absorbed in the work of Samuel D. Hunter who, I find to be a very talented and extremely relevant playwright in the American theater today.

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

A: Write every chance you get because the old adage is true; writing is rewriting.

Q: Plugs, please:

A: On this production of Trail of Tears I am working with two companies who I believe are doing some of the most innovative, relevant and honest work OOB. They are Rebel Theater Company ( and The Eagle Project (

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