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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...

Jun 20, 2016

I Interview Playwrights Part 853: William Glick

William Glick

Hometown: Lighthouse Point, FL & Chicago, IL

Current Town: Austin, TX

Q:  Tell me about Kin Folk.

A:  I’ve been developing Kin Folk with The New Colony for the past two years. It focuses on Otherkin, who are people that identify as magical, non-human creatures. It’s a coming-out story, but instead of coming out as gay, the main character, Lucy, comes out as a dragon. The play looks at how this announcement affects her husband and sisters and how Lucy relates to the larger Otherkin community. Initially, I thought the play would be a fun fantasy, but over time it became a family drama and a way to explore faith, coming out, and the ways millennials engage with identity politics.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I get bored easily, so I like working on a lot of stuff at once. Right now, I’m doing a libretto for a children’s opera that blends various Aesop’s fables, which my friend Alex Heppelmann is writing the music for. I’m working on a new draft of my play Faggot Dolls, which is about American Girl-type dolls for gay men. I’m also about to start a new play that is set in the year 2000 and is a heterosexual romance––something that is TOTALLY MYSTERIOUS to me.

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

A:  When I was a kid, I used take over our living room for an hour every day and have “living room time.” This consisted of me pacing around the room and inventing stories. I made up fake movie stars and fake plots for their fake movies. I also made up the lineage of a futuristic royal family, where all the royals were named after characters I liked on TV. I also used to memorize the opening credits of movies, so I’ve always been interested in the people who make stories and how they’re told.

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

A:  In the past couple years, I think the theater has made a lot of important strides towards telling stories for a less homogeneous audience. Many artists are bringing us towards greater racial and gender diversity, but I also wish the theater would work towards political diversity. I wish there were more plays about three-dimensional conservative characters. What makes theater essential is its ability to create civic dialogue and make people empathize with those who are not like them. You can’t build ideological empathy in an echo chamber. Meaningful, lasting change in a democracy involves consensus, which requires engagement with the opposite side of political spectrum, and I worry we do a little too much choir preaching in the theater.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  There are a lot. I love anything by Arthur Miller, William Inge, and Thornton Wilder. I’m also still reeling from an amazing production The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window at the Goodman Theatre. So, I’d definitely put Lorraine Hansberry on the list.

I’m very much a “musical theater person.” I love Sondheim, particularly his musicals with James Lapine, which have extraordinary books. No one sets playwrights words to music better than Jeanine Tesori. I also admire Howard Ashman, who I think would have written some incredible stage musicals had he lived longer.

In terms of contemporary playwrights, Young Jean Lee and Lucas Hnath are the playwrights I find most formally exciting. Will Eno’s language consistently breaks my heart, and Rebecca Gilman does an amazing job wrestling with complex, moral questions, which is something I aim for in my work.

Other contemporary playwrights I love (in alpha order): Thomas Bradshaw, Philip Dawkins, Zinnie Harris, Andrew Hinderaker, James Ijames, Dan LeFranc, Mickle Maher, Lynn Nottage, Diana Small, Paula Vogel, and Sheri Wilner.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Theater that asks unanswerable questions.

Theater that shows us the shades of gray in every person and situation.

Theater that changes form and style mid-play.

Theater that is big and ambitious. I consider it a great artistic failing that I haven’t written a play that’s over three hours.

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

A:  Take constructive criticism eagerly and gladly. Don’t cloister your work.

Find one good dramaturg who will always read your work and whose notes you trust. My friend Bradley Cherna has been mine for eleven years and counting.

Find joy in solitude. So much of playwriting is done alone, which can be depressing, but I think it’s how you cultivate a potent voice.

Strategies of Drama by Oscar Brownstein and Shakespeare’s Game by William Gibson are great books on playwriting theory, if that’s your cup of tea.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Come see Kin Folk, which premiers on July 12th and runs through August 14th. It is being produced by The New Colony at The Den Theatre, in Chicago. Click the link for more info!


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