Saturday, March 05, 2016

I Interview Playwrights Part 818: David Jacobi



David Jacobi

Hometown: Ronkonkoma, NY

Current Town: Philadelphia, PA

Q:  Tell me about your upcoming show.

A:  Mai Dang Lao is loosely based off of a crime that occurred at a McDonalds in Mount Washington, KY in 2006. It’s also loosely based on the time I was working at McDonalds, and didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. The play follows Sophie, a young woman who just gave her two-weeks notice to McDonalds in the hopes she can move on to bigger and better things. But when she’s accused of theft, she’s forced to undergo a pretty horrifying exit procedure. The amazing Marti Lyons is directing. The generous Connie Congdon once described the play as “Kevin Smith meets Kafka.” I’ve never been able to put it better than that.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I’m currently an imbedded playwright at Pig Iron Theatre Company through the Shank Fellowship. In a few months, I’m going to workshop a devised piece with Pig Iron. After that, I’m heading to UCross Foundation to work on The World Tree, a one-man musical. It’s about a beloved, Mr. Rogers-esque public figure who creates a media uproar when it’s discovered that he’s looking into undergoing Physician Assisted Suicide after being diagnosed with a degenerative disease. I’m collaborating with Tommy Crawford of The Lobbyists and director Sarah Wansley.

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 latchkey kid who often lost his housekeys, so I was forced to spend a lot of time outdoors. One day, I converted a line of half-dead bushes into a haunted house/hedge maze thing. It wasn’t really a maze, though; you had to pretty much climb through dry branches to get to the other side. I wrote short, Poe-derivative poems and stuck them in random places. When someone went through the bushes, I was situated above them, making creepy sound effects and dropping bricks near where they were. It wasn’t the safest thing in the world, but I had so much fun, I forgot that I planned on charging admission.

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

A:  Maybe it’s risk aversion. Theatre has this incredible potential to be timely, to be powerfully current. But when an event worth commenting on occurs, theatre is usually the last on the scene. The film adaptation is already out on DVD and we’re still workshopping the script, holding out for the masterpiece. I think theatre could embrace the impulsive a little more.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, David Bowie, Annie Baker, Jeff Augustin, Oliver Queen.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Theatre that isn’t ashamed to be earnest. Plays that unravel in your brain while you try to sleep days after seeing them.

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

A:  Rejection letters are easy to take if you were too inebriated to remember applying.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Mai Dang Lao runs at Richard Christiansen Theatre at Victory Gardens

March 6-April 10th. Tickets available at http://www.sideshowtheatre.org/performances/productions/mai-dang-lao


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