Thursday, May 05, 2016

I Interview Playwrights Part 832: Paz Pardo

Paz Pardo

Hometown:  Palo Alto, CA

Current Town: Austin, TX

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  A Christmas comedy where everyone dies called Pioneers of the Future. We'll see how that goes...My partner and I are also starting a translation project called Grande/Bravo, which aims to put US plays into dialogue with plays from Latin America. We're translating Kirk Lynn's Fixing King John into Spanish and organizing a reading of it as part of the Brujula al sur international festival in Cali, Colombia in October. We're also translating Mosca by Fabio Rubiano and Otelo sobre la mesa by Jaime Chabaud into English and setting up readings of them here in Austin in the spring of 2017. All three plays are irreverent adaptations of Shakespeare, and we're working on getting a round table together with all three playwrights.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  For my 11th birthday, I decided to make a movie. So all my friends—all girls—came over for a slumber party, and everybody said what they wanted to be and we came up with a plot and set to work. The cast list featured a philandering wife, an assassin, a witch, and I think a cat? Nobody wanted to play the husband—the movie was called "Femme Fatale Forever." It had no problem passing the Bechdel test. We put my little sister in the oven for one of the scenes. My mother was not happy when she saw the video.

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

A:  I would get more funding more equitably distributed across the country. I'd also love to see American Theater be more in dialogue with theater from around the world–not just the theater that tours the international festival circuit—theater all over talking to theater from all over. That would be fun.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I'm eclectically excitable. A lot of what grabs me is in dance—Faye Driscoll comes to mind, as well as a dance-theater ensemble called Grupo Krapp from Argentina. The way that choreographers create structure without relying on narrative fascinates me. One of the most important things for me is seeing performers have fun on stage. There's something about the energy of someone loving what they're doing or cracking themselves up that I find endlessly exciting. I recently saw the Rude Mech's Field Guide out here in Austin, and the utter delight of the performers in certain moments made the experience transcendent for me. And then there are plays that can grab me even from the page (which is rare, I'm a terrible play-reader)—Steven Dietz's Lonely Planet and Enrique Lozano's Los difusos finales de las cosas come to mind.

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

A:  My mother is a playwright, and she met Tony Kushner in like 1990 and asked him what advice he had for budding playwrights. He said "Self produce." He seems like a good person to listen to. The way that your writing changes after having to listen to your words over and over and over again is great training. Also, my path into playwriting was to not know I was a playwright, and I think it's served me well. My early-career training was as a director and an actor—and boy, have those things influenced how I'm able to write. As an actor, there are things that get so embedded in you through performance that you're able to intuit the internal logic of a scene. That's deeply helpful when you're writing. And the practice of thinking beyond the text that comes with directing is very helpful if you want to move into realms of more expansive theatricality.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  My play RubberMatch is running in NYC, May 5-21. More info at If you come, say hi!

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