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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...

May 26, 2016

I Interview Playwrights Part 842: Jason Gray Platt

Photo by Michele Crowe.

Jason Gray Platt

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ

Current Town: Brooklyn, NY

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  -An immersive children's show about neurology, birds, and jungle gyms as part of the LabWorks program at New Victory theater in New York City.

-A preposterously long play about the first performance of theater in the American Colonies that I'll be researching at the Folger Library in Washington D.C. on a fellowship this fall.

-A new large-scale immersive work with my theater company Woodshed Collective that is so interesting we don't even know what it is yet but it definitely will be once it has been.

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 wrote my first play, in high school, out of unrequited love.
(For a human.)
She was an actress, I wrote fiction, she wanted to something to work on, and she said, in jest, "Why don't you write me a play?"
"I'll do anything you want," I whispered to her shadow as it rounded the corner.
(In this memory I look and act vaguely like Gollum)
The play was very bad, but the process of writing it was very good.
"Good" being an understatement - it was more like having an awareness that the poured concrete foundation of my life, which I had been waiting for seventeen years to set, had finally done just that, and I could at last begin to build on it.
But I suppose that scenario could describe all of my plays.
Since every act of creation is an act of desire.
Willing into being that which is not, but (for whatever as-yet-undiagnosed reason) which the artist believes should be.
Like an unrequited relationship.
(Oh and that first play? It didn't make a bit of difference)

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

A:  Funding models.
It all comes back to funding models.
Will that change in this country any time soon?
But dream big.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Ooooo "heroes" makes me uncomfortable.
Let's do inspirations.
Caryl Churchill, Martin Crimp, Suzan-Lori Parks, Robert Wilson, Tony Kushner, Samuel Beckett, Edward Bond, Brecht, Young Jean Lee, Paula Vogel, Richard Maxwell, Ivo van Hove, Elizabeth LeCompte, Ariane Mnouchkine, Thomas Bernhard, Joe Orton, Enda Walsh, Chuck Mee, Pina Bausch, Anne Bogart, &c.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Big gestures.
The big gesture takes many forms. Textual, chronological, choreographic, experiential, design-ical, to name a few.
Go big or go home.
Then just go home.
Because by now the play is over and you look weird sitting in a dark theater by yourself.

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

A:  Meet, love, and work with your peers.
Who are also just starting out.
Naturally when you're young you want to work with people who have established themselves, with "names," as it were. People generally older than you.
But A: Those people are working with their own people (their peers),
And B: In time those people will retire/die/transmigrate/sublimate/what-have-you and be replaced by you and your peers.The people I met just out of college are now -- [REDACTED] years later -- established and working, and because we have worked together for so long we have strong collaborative relationships in place.

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