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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 14, 2017

I Interview Playwrights Part 992: Carson Kreitzer

Carson Kreitzer

Hometown:  Hmmm… I guess Highland Falls, New York? That’s mostly were I grew up, though we moved around quite a bit. My parents still live there.

Current Town:  Minneapolis. And New York as much as I can.

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  TIMEBOMB, a climate change play, for A.R.T. LEMPICKA, a big epic historical musical with composer Matt Gould and director Rachel Chavkin, inspired by the life of art deco artist Tamara de Lempicka. CAPITAL CRIME!, a Brechtian play with songs about income inequality and the devouring of young girls. And a piece about Marathon Dancing, which is a collaboration with a choreographer for the History Theater in St. Paul.

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

A:  Once, on a cross-country car trip (possibly one of those moves…), we stopped at a rest area with lots of broken up gray landscape rock. I spotted a fossil, a tiny shell, a slightly darker imprint in the sea of gray rock. My mother was delighted. She said, “Good eyes!” That really stuck with me. And even in the moment, it felt like, Yes, that is who I am. That is a useful skill I can bring to the world. I pick up on little details. I see things other people might walk by without noticing. And I think a lot of my work does involve that drive to find the overlooked, often from a feminist perspective. To re-tell history from a different viewpoint, maybe a viewpoint that’s a little closer to the ground. My parents still have that rock somewhere.

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

A:  One thing? Ooof. Can I say Money? That involves the gatekeeping at the production level, and also at the audience level. And of course what artists get paid. I would love more opportunities to see work produced, and learn from that. And I would love to be in a profession where I can afford to keep up with the important work in my chosen profession, i.e., buy tickets to the shows I want to see. The whole thing is so crazy.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  This could get so long… a short list for today: Stephen Sondheim. Caryl Churchill. Suzan-Lori Parks. Paula Vogel. Taylor Mac. In roughly chronological order of influence.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Theater that takes my breath away, at least once in the evening. Something that cracks open what it means to be human. I would rather see a flawed but exciting piece than a well-crafted, ‘safe’ work, that wraps everything up neatly. I like being asked to think, rather than told what to think.

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

A:  See a lot of theater. Find what you love. Try to figure out how they did it. And make sure you’re seeking out the boldly theatrical, which is in shorter and shorter supply these days.

For playwrights starting out now, I’d also say… try TV. There is so much interesting work happening there, and I hear you actually get paid. To work in theater, you really have to be in love with it. There are so many reasons to leave. I’m hooked. It’s too late for me.

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’m pretty obsessed with Muji notebooks. And a nice, flow-y uni-ball pen, medium line. And I’m unnaturally attached to my Helvetica.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Well, if you’re in the Twin Cities, come see DANCE TILL YOU DROP, about the Dance Marathon craze, with choreography by Regina Peluso… that’s at the History Theater in St. Paul in March. And stay tuned for more about LEMPICKA soon...

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