Saturday, November 14, 2015

I Interview Playwrights Part 802: Daria Miyeko Marinelli



Daria Miyeko Marinelli

Hometown: Hartsdale, NY

Current Town: Astoria, NY

Q:  Tell me about Untameable.

A:  Untameable is an immersive diamond heist play. Ten Actors, Three Locations. One Rockstar of a Stage Manager. There's the thieves side where they're trying to steal an old diamond and repatriate it. There's the museum side trying to find their mole and keep the diamond safe. And in the center, there's our origin story of a Boy Prince who first owned the diamond and the Lady Queen who colonized it away, all of which is told in dance, naturally.

In real talk, it's about love and choice and big dreams.The characters choose, the audience gets to pick what to see, and part of the play is the fact that we never quite get the whole thing. It's also about doing big impossible things that shouldn't be done, and well, you know, trying to do them.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I'm currently rewriting another split action play- one side is small town of hunters, other side is the woods with a wild wolf woman tribe that commits despicable acts of violence to initiate women into their tribe. Passion, violence, and the importance of rituals and storytelling. If we play our production cards right, there's also going to be a 15 minute war ballet in it, and different versions depending, again, as always, on audience choice.

Untameable closes end of November, I think we post-mort, sleep, and remind our friends we exist for a month, and then we'll dive in and start workshopping and piecing together this beast in January.

After that, it's trying to find the pulse for a big project that that's lightly been dubbed American Mythology- ultimately asking- what are our American Gods, with something about American History thrown in. The joke during production for Untameable (w a cast of 10, and 3 simultaneous locations, and more than a few technical headaches) is the next one's going to be a two hander over a kitchen table. Which I'm intrigued by. So, I think this one will be a series of 10-minute, 2 hander scenes over kitchen tables. The trick being there will be one for every year of American History. (And hopefully some food.) I've found a dramaturg and a director who make me look smarter than I am, so the goal is to write a lot of scenelets, drop a sheaf of pages on their respect desks and inboxs, and together we'll make it into an exciting theatrical experience. I've found people who will tolerate my appetite for the epic and I'm very grateful for 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 inappropriately saw Fight Club when I was 13 at a poorly supervised sleepover. After that I decided I was going to write a grimy violent novel, but it was going to be "experimental" in that it was going to only have dialogue. What I actually had written was a play. I wrote my first play and was calling it "an experimental novel."

Which is to say, I'm the kid who sticks out at the edge of the class photo. I'm kind of in the wrong spot and maybe (hopefully) it's endearing enough to not get me kicked out of the class. I'm rubbish at staying in line, I revel in independent deviation, I have a penchance for stumbling upon previously invented wheels and calling them new, and I have a deep affinity for fast banter dialogue, swift punches to the gut, and sweeping landscape moments where you watch the city burn.

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

A:  Diversity and Accessibility.

Tell me a broad range of stories and get a broad range of bodies portraying those stories, and you'll start opening up your audiences. And when you start opening up your audiences (assuming that you're also taking steps to ensure that the work is accessible to a diverse public, and that is vital) , you're then cultivating the next generation of theater artists to be stronger, braver, and more diverse than we are. And their work will be stronger, braver, and more diverse too. And if we can do that, if we can explode who's telling theater, coming to theater, and then making theater 10 years from now, then we've got the heart going and the blood pumping in our beautiful Usonian Theater Machine. And I'm into that. That's the thing I aim to change.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Bob Dylan when he played the electric guitar for the first time. Jose Rivera and Junot Diaz, because they're my heroes, full stop. Tess Slesinger for jamming a lot of words on paper and letting it live halfway between poetry and prose. Erik Ehn for teaching me the unknowability of the wreckage. Lisa D'Amour for prepping me for time with the wind at my face. Donmar, Kneehigh, Punchdrunk, because Yes.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Theater that breaks things (hearts, barriers, and rules). Theater that pulls a gasp from you. Theater that makes you care, with stories so important we are reminded why storytelling is important. Work that needs to be live and reminds us what it is to be alive. Work that wakes us up and reminds of us all we can do. Work that is passionate and messy and unafraid.

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

A:  Figure out what drives you and position your work in relation to that. Is it accolades? Mastery of the craft? The people? The allure of power? Whatever it is, it's perfect to you, and you must make it your North Star. Hang it from your rearview mirror, blazon it on your heart, write it on that spot on the wall you first see upon wakening. And let that drive you to write, and never forget it and never stop writing. Accept your gods, harness your demons, and let their winds fill your sails.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Untameable: Immersive Diamond Heist. Playing til November 22nd. We're stealing diamonds and keeping them safe this weekend and next. Untameable.bpt.me. Wed-Sun: 8pm w a Sat 2pm too.

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