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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...

Aug 9, 2016

I Interview Playwrights Part 867: Stephen Brown

Stephen Brown

Hometown: Spring, TX

Current Town: Brooklyn, NY

Q:  Tell me about Montgomery:

A:  Aw man. I'm usually pretty quiet or embarrassed when it comes to my own work, but this play is going to be fucking awesome. It's crazy and very different than anything I've ever written. I grew up loving the Coen Brothers' films - Raising Arizona, Fargo, O Brother Where Art Thou - and have always wanted to see their style onstage somewhere. Something that's wild, musical, with bigger than life characters, usually doing something stupid, but grounded in emotional honesty. So I wrote this play.

It's about two 14 year old girls who kidnap a country music star. And all the shit that comes after that. People get shot. Songs get sung. A father tries desperately to connect with his daughter. And the daughter tries to exact her revenge on those that wronged her. It's a vengeance play.

We're doing a reading of it through ESPA Drills at the Lucille Lortel at 7pm on 8/16. The indomitable Tessa LaNeve has been spearheading the entire program while dramaturging my play via caps locked text messages (she thinks she's sooo cool). The amazing Suzie Agins is directing. It's going to be a blast.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I'm trading time between two new plays right now. The first is a horror play about the competitive world of cat pageants. The second is about this mother who doesn't get invited on her family's summer vacation, so she goes anyway to ruin it for everyone. It's called "Fucking Disney World." It's also a vengeance play. I'm finding out I tend to write a lot of vengeance plays.

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 6 my brother tried to burn me at the stake. My mother caught him and his friend tying me to a tree and setting kindling around my ankles. She sent him to his room and grounded him for a week. I felt terrible about it. So I sat on the other side of his locked door and passed him Reese's Peanut Butter Cups underneath it. I sat there the whole day in case he needed anything.

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

A:  More dance parties.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Plays that feel like a god damn ride. Plays that are physical, hilarious, dangerous, violent, and just a liiittle bit weird. That have a sense of adventure. Plays like Year of the Rooster. Kentucky. The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. The Coward. I worked at EST when they did Hand to God and the staff would all stand in the back and watch every performance. It was like touching lightning. I also love it when plays work in some kind of live music. The New Group's production of A Lie of the Mind several years ago was this whole other experience because of two guys playing music out of found objections on stage during the performances.

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

A:  I think reading as many plays as possible is important when starting out. I didn't really study playwriting or theater, so I learned a shit load about structure, different styles of storytelling, and what was even possible onstage just by hanging out at Drama Bookshops and reading plays (without ever buying them sorry Drama Bookshop).

And then read everything else. Read poetry (both bad and good). Read George Saunders' short stories. Read some world history. Read the graphic novel series DMZ. Read strange confessional posts on the internet. Do it all, man.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Check out my fellow ESPA Drillers next week:

"Surfacing" by Mike Poblete - August 15th at 4pm
"Rapture2K" by Daniel McCoy - August 15th at 7pm
"The Call Center" by Joshua Strauch - August 16th at 4pm

RSVP and more info here: http://primarystages.org/espa/espa-programs/espa-drills

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