Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I Interview Playwrights Part 776: Jonathan Payne





Jonathan Payne

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Current Town: Brooklyn, NY

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I am now in preparation for my Ars Nova Out Loud reading in the Fall, on a play called "Poor Edward". It is a play based off an old Czech Fairy Tale, called "Greedy Guts." Which tells the story of a married couple who can't have children, and the husband brings home something akin to a mandrake root, and they raise it as there own. Dress it in diapers, give it a pacifier, the whole nine yards. It then takes on a Little Shop of Horrors vibe, when the root actually comes to life, and lives off of human blood.

It has been a challenge to write as I usually create huge casts, but this play is only two characters on stage the whole time, with no acts or scene breaks. I am quite excited about 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:  I have been writing since I was a young, young thing. My fourth grade teacher Denise Duplessis, had us write a short story of our choosing, and odd enough, I wrote one about an ice cube travelling from Los Angeles to New York in search of a freezer. Why it had to venture all the way out to New York for a freezer is anybody's guess. Mayhaps a deeper meaning? The things you need might be closer than you think.

Anyway, the ice cube somehow makes it there in time. And my teacher loved it. She told me I was going to be a writer. I have been writing ever since.

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

A:  AFFORDABILITY!!! I had the pleasure of going to school in England for three years. It was so easy to see theatre there. I saw so much theatre there in comparison to my longer years here in New York. That the government there invest so much into the theatre is something of note. I wish we could find that here.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  This list could go on forever. But a few for you. Bertolt Brecht. Anton Chekov. August Wilson. Tennessee Williams. Eugene O'Neill. Samuel Beckett. Adrienne Kennedy. Harold Pinter. Sophocles. Lorraine Hansberry. Living: Athol Fugard. Edward Albee. Peter Schaffer. Tony Kushner. Tom Stoppard. Lynn Nottage.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I love the stuff that makes you go "WTF was that?" I love the epic on stage. The macro in the micro. The Micro in the macro. Giant ideas, and lights shown in dark and unexpected places. A play from the perspective of a coffee pot. I love work that stretches the bounds of the theatre, which I feel the theatre is quite boundless. I also love that Chekov's plays are viewed as comedies.

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

A:  I cannot speak from any sort of stump, but I feel like what has been most rewarding to me is community. I have to remember that my fellow playwrights have been such a wonderful support to me. One of the major reasons I got in to Ars Nova's Play Group is the wonderful playwright Sarah Gancher. She vouched for me when I was being considered. I will always remember that. The writers in my life have been great sounding boards, commiserators, opportunity and resource sharers, and great advocates.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Sex of the Baby by Matthew Lee Erlbach (fellow Ars Novan) Sept. 9-27 @ Access Theater.
Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally by Kevin Armento (fellow Ars Novan) Sept. 30-Oct. 24 @ 59E59 Theater
A Knee That Can Bend by Emma Goidel (fellow Ars Novan) Nov. 28th-Dec. 20th. @ The Drake (Philidelphia)

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