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1000 Playwright Interviews The first interview I posted was on June 3, 2009.  It was Jimmy Comtois.  I decided I would start interview...

Sep 26, 2015

I Interview Playwrights Part 789: Helen Pafumi

Helen Pafumi

Hometown: Born in Marin County, CA, but I consider Hilo, HI my hometown since we moved when I was only a few months and stayed for a decade.

Current Town: Sterling, VA

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  Writing - I am in the midst of edits on REDDER BLOOD which I was commissioned to write this past year. It follows a woman who legitimately hears the voice of God, but won’t answer back. It’s funny. I promise. It will premiere next summer as a co-production of The Hub and The Jewish Community Center Of Northern Virginia.

Producing - Hub’s 8th Season is starting up and demands a lot of time. Our first piece this year, WISH LIST, is a collaboration from Hub Company members, so its a lot of corralling.

Directing - I’m headed to Malibu Playhouse in November to direct WONDERFUL LIFE which I cowrote a few years back. It’s exciting to revisit the script.

Q:  Tell me about the Hub.

A:  You mean my other child? I co-founded The Hub back in 2008 and have been the Artistic Director ever since. We are headed into our 8th season. We do predominately newer work, and a lot of new play development. You have actually interviewed many of the playwrights with whom we have worked. We are a small operation, but very detailed in the artistry. Once folks work with us, they tend to want to come back. I love being a trusted home for great artists.

We prize work that is magical, fantastical, poetic, funny, redemptive and has heightened theatricality. I am most attracted to plays that have a lot of heart and hope. Kind of corny, but true.

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 grew up climbing trees like it was a profession. The property on which our house sat had a large grove of fruit trees. There was one point when my siblings and I were playing in our favorite lichee tree. We all decided that we need a swing hanging from the tree and proceeded to craft one. I took over as master builder directing things from the ground, then decided they were hanging it wrong and climbed up to tie off the rope myself. Once done, my brother jumped onto the swing without realizing I didn’t have my footing and down I went. The wind was knocked out of me for what seemed like forever, I bruised my back and was covered in bleeding scratches. They had to half carry me back to the house. I was back in the tree the next day.

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

A:  That more people would come to see it.

I also want theatre artists to keep forefront, not just what we want to create, but what we can share. We and the audience are in this together.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Joy Zinoman - She started, built and created the massive success that is Studio Theatre in DC, in a pretty rough part of town (at the time). She is also passionate about teaching others this art form. I’m a fan.

Karen Zacharias - Brilliant writer, easily one of the most down to earth people you will ever meet, and dedicated to giving young people of all walks in life a voice through the arts.

Marc Acito - I have watched Marc go from novelist, to playwright at Hub, to bigger regional houses, to Broadway. He is one of the hardest working people I know and a dear friend to boot. Watching his tenacity and talent move him ever forward is so exciting.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I appreciate anything that really takes me away - and that can be clowning, a musical, a drama - anything. I am actually not someone who wants to scrutinize what I am watching, while I am watching. I only do it when the production is not doing its job. I really am hoping to be entertained and delighted. If I didn’t wonder what time it was, or how much longer it was going to take, then I probably loved it.

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

A:  I am answering this as an AD and a writer.

Please write a comedy. The great comedies comment on our humanity just as much as a drama. And the ones that have honesty and heart, or a touch of the bittersweet in them are pure gold. Of the submissions I get from literary agents, great comedies are the needle in the haystack. And a writer who can handle comedy, can handle anything. So don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun laughing at yourself and the world.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Visit us at The Hub Theatre http://www.thehubtheatre.org forSeason 8!

WONDERFUL LIFE at Malibu Playhouse http://malibuplayhouse.org/ and at Arts West Playhouse http://www.artswest.org/ this December.

REDDER BLOOD at The Hub in summer of 2016 http://www.thehubtheatre.org/performances_redderblood.html

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