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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...

Sep 9, 2017

I Interview Playwrights Part 987: Ken Munch

Ken Munch

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Current Town: Brooklyn, NY

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I've just finished a first draft of a new play, which is a revitalization of an earlier failed play, previously known as "Explosion at the Happiness Factory," which was given a great reading at EST back in 2010--a reading that helped expose how bad the whole thing was. I left it alone after that, thoroughly discouraged. Now, I think I have finally cracked it, and am hoping to continue developing this over the next few months.

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 young, I used to create my own version of TV Guide, and fill it with all imaginary programs. For each show, I would write a synopsis in the style of TV Guide. Movies, talk shows, sitcoms--I invented a world of alternate TV programming. I think in its own crazy way this definitely helped me start to take apart and examine the storytelling process.

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

A:  It should be more affordable, and less precious. We should look at it as a laboratory, where great things can be discovered, though it can get messy and might even blow us all up, and not as a glass case in Tiffany's window, where we only display the most polished and worked-over jewels for everyone to "ooh" and "ahh" over. Let's make it easier for playwrights to see their work up on stage--any kind of stage, anywhere--rather than develop pieces incessantly in the hopes of making them more accessible or critic-proof.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  So, so many.

Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Edward Albee, David Mamet, Sam Shepard, John Guare. David Rabe, Caryl Churchill, August Wilson, Jez Butterworth, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Annie Baker, etc, etc.

The list is endless--basically anyone who even tries to write a play is a hero in my book.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I hook into dialogue probably more than anything else, when I see (or read) a play. I love it when it sings, when it has muscularity and a driving rhythm, when it throws proper grammar and syntax to the wind in order to chart the music of a character's desire. Beyond that, I love moral ambiguity, when the author loves the villain as much as the hero, or in fact can't tell you who exactly is the hero and who's the villain.

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

A:  Write all you can, whenever you can, and get your work seen and/or heard any way you can. Don't have any preconceived notions about what your work should be like, or where your work should or should not be done. Seek out all opportunities, gather collaborators around you. There are actors, directors, and designers who are also starting out when you are. Gather together and build something yourselves.

Q:  When not writing on a computer, what's your go-to paper and writing utensil? When on computer, what's your font?

A:  I have long been obsessed with notebooks and pens, and am only now weaning myself off this powerful habit, which has resulted in boxes and boxes filled with blank notebooks--more than I'll ever be able to use. Moleskines, Paperblanks, Bindewerk (great German notebooks just now being imported here), and everything in between--I've used them all.

On computer, I use Final Draft software, and love their "Courier Final Draft" font--looks exactly like a typewritten page. In my fantasy life, I am the last playwright still using a manual typewriter.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  I am part of a great organization, Rough and Ready Productions, which has a monthly night of readings of new work. Plays, screenplays, songs, monologues--whatever you're working on at the moment, you can put it up before a friendly, encouraging audience. Our next night of readings is on Monday, September 11 at Alchemical Theatre Lab, 104 West 14th street, NYC. I urge anyone to submit material for future evenings to: idemandanaudience@gmail.com

and like the Rough and Ready Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/iamroughandready/

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