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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...

Jan 23, 2017

I Interview Playwrights Part 909: Augie Praley

Augie Praley

Hometown: Annapolis, Maryland

Current Town: New York City

Q:  Tell me about Looking Back.

A:  Looking Back, It May Not Have Been Ridgefield High’s Best Production of Our Town is a play that chronicles the memories of a high school gymnatorium—very much based on my own high school’s gymnatorium—on the eve of its destruction. I am personally a character in the show that guides the audience through the many different events that seemed important to the building. The play becomes this exploration of memory, significance and worth and what it means to be human.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I’ve got a couple of different television projects that I’m working on--an animated pilot and two pilots based on previous web series I’ve created.

We’re hoping that Looking Back… has life after this production as well. We’re still developing and honing the stories within it and have been getting closer and closer to where I want the show to get to. We took huge steps forward with this production—including defining the generations of people that are all interconnected at this school—and I’m eager to see what steps we might take next for the development of the play.

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

A:  My dad and my brother were both sailors growing up—we lived in Annapolis—they were competitive racers, but I didn’t have the same athletic or competitive impulse. I was also just pretty bad at sailing.

Eager to find a way to connect, my dad would take me to the movies every week, just me and him, and we’d see basically whatever we pleased. He took me to see Rushmore when I was 11 and probably too young to see that movie, but we went anyways, and I’d never seen him laugh like that. There was something that had him rocking the whole aisle of seats with this deep bellowing laugh that turned into a whinny as he lost breath… it was surreal.

I remember thinking: I want to make my dad laugh that hard. That’s why I started really goofing off on old VHS cameras and writing little sketches and plays—to make my dad laugh.

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

A:  I think the cost of theater makes it seem like an elitist craft and the cost of producing makes it difficult for shows to gestate and become what they need to be.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Thornton Wilder—that one’s probably obvious, Chuck Mee, Sarah Ruhl, Mickle Maher, Suzan-Lori Parks, Paula Vogel, The Neo-Futurists and countless other Chicago theatres that do it for the love of play.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I like theater that brings everyone into the same place, that reaches out and engages with the audience and doesn’t ignore them. That’s the most exciting thing to me, to sit in the audience of a play and feel like I am integral to its creation—like I need to be present for the story to exist at all. I like theatre that makes the ephemeral moment we’re seeing feel all that much more fleeting and important.

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

A:  Oh, boy, that’s tough because I kind of feel like I’m also just starting out and it’s tough to give advice to someone you’re in the trenches with, but I think it’s just to keep writing. It’s important not to get too precious with everything you’re writing and know that you will have more ideas.

Keep writing, you have stories in you, it’s why you’re a writer.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Looking Back… still has shows at the PIT Sundays at 8:30 through February 12th, with a Monday show on February 6th.

You could check out my web series Augie, Alone at www.augiealone.com and you can also check out my Super Deluxe web series FUTURE YOU here http://bit.ly/2jPWslP.

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