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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...

Apr 29, 2017

I Interview Playwrights Part 930: Meridith Friedman

Meridith Friedman

Hometown:  Honolulu, Hawaii (by way of Madison, Wisconsin)

Current Town:  The East Side of Manhattan

Q:  Tell me about your play going up at Curious Theater.

A:  The Luckiest People is the first play in a trilogy that follows the Hoffman family over the course of about twelve years. The play was commissioned by Curious Theatre Company, with funding from my theatre fairy godmother, the amazing National New Play Network.

The trilogy deals with those middle years of life when obligations to kids, parents, and spouses are competing against each other for your time and attention and sanity. The Luckiest People begins after the death of the family’s matriarch. Her middle-aged son Richard (the protagonist of the trilogy) is blindsided when his elderly father Oscar demands to leave his assisted living facility. With his sister Laura living in Shanghai, and Richard soon to become a first time father with his partner David, he is less than thrilled at the prospect of housing his–to put it mildly–difficult father. Accusations begin to fly and defenses are drawn, spiraling father and son, brother and sister, and spouses into a heated game of finger pointing with unintended consequences.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I am writing the book for a new musical about art theft, an original pilot about the Supreme Court, and the third play of my trilogy (see above).

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 memorized Marisa Tomei’s monologue about deer hunting from the movie My Cousin Vinny at a pretty young age. Like long before it was probably appropriate for me to have seen that (fantastic) movie. And I would recite it for my parent’s friends at dinner parties sometimes. You know like how some parents will ask their kids to play the violin for their friends, or show off their art work? Like that. And their friends would get a hoot out of watching this third-grader say: “Would you give a fuck what kind of pants the son-of-a-bitch who shot you was wearing?”

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I like explosive theatre. Theatre that makes me squirm in my seat. Plays that simmer and boil until that inevitable moment when they explode. When someone says or does something they can’t take back. And they have to deal with the aftermath. The consequences. I think we spend so much of our lives (or at least I do) carefully avoiding that moment–maybe that is why I find it simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating when I watch it play out on stage.

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

A:  Figure out, early on, your definition of success. And try not to make that definition contingent on some external milestone that you have no control over.

I remember very clearly the moment I defined success for myself. I was sitting around a table with a group of really lovely, committed artists, and we’re working on a play I wrote, and everyone is breathing life and truth and heart into this blueprint I created, and it is becoming something so much richer and stronger than what I had envisioned, and it suddenly occurred to me: if I can keep hanging out in spaces like this, with artists like these, I’ll be successful. And fulfilled.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  The NNPN Rolling World Premiere of The Luckiest People at Curious Theatre company in Denver, playing May 4th – June 17th.

Demos from a musical I am currently writing with composer/lyricist Madeline Myers and director Emily Maltby about art theft.

Demos from a musical I recently completed with composer/lyricist Ryan Langer, about a couple that embarks on an open marriage after thirty years together.

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