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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...

Oct 25, 2018

I Interview Playwrights Part 1009: Caroline Macon

Caroline (Caro) Macon

Hometown: Carrollton, Texas

Current Town: Chicago, Illinois

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  A few things!

A children's play called How to Grow a Dandelion. It was commissioned through the Cunningham Commission for the Playworks children's series at my Alma mater, DePaul. It's very much a work in progress, but the gist is: it's spring break and Chicago, but the kids are gloom and doom because it's still SO COLD! They want beaches and Popsicles, but are stuck with frozen feet and sadness. To overcome, they bring pots of boiling water to their community garden. When they pour the water over the garden, something magical happens--and the whole city turns to spring. The play explores a lot of things, but some are seasonal depression, imagination and pretend, self-sustainability, and the value of urban community garden.

Two: a novel, which is weird. I'm almost, almost done with the first draft. It's called The Garage Sale and tracks a woman named Beverly who is an empty-nester at 32. When Beverly has a garage sale to clear her home of her son's old playthings, a pair of snoopy teenagers discovers Beverly's personal diaries from being pregnant and raising a child at 14.

Last: I'm starting a Masters program in January--back at DePaul--in Journalism, funny enough. I've enjoyed the ways my storytelling has evolved to arts reporting and reviews, so I want to finesse those skills and learn more about multimedia.

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

A:  Oh jeez... I was such a weirdo. I'm very physically active, and always was. I loved biking, rollerblading, swimming, wandering around the woods. But in these times, I'd become engulfed by a strange pretend world. Like, sometimes I imagined the forest by my house was another universe, accessible only by an abandoned railroad track. Or, I remember doing flips in the pool and pretending I was a spy moving through booby traps in slow-mo. Sometimes I watched my hair moving through the water and pretended I was Kim Possible. A person in my neighborhood had this bird bath and bench setup. It was really beautiful. I used to sit around it and imagine I was a part of a musical or some epic story. One I invented was called "The Summer After Fifth Grade" and I would sing ballads quietly to myself, thinking sixth graders were so grown. Such private, strange things.

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

A:  A billion things, like how a lot of theatres think they are inclusive but aren't.

Or the frustrating cycle of theatres that need income from subscribers and ticket sales, so aren't able to open seats for more affirmative acts of audience inclusion. As someone who works in arts admin but also lives paycheck to paycheck, I see both sides: theatres have to sell tickets. But even I am not able to go out and see shows that much because of financial restrictions. And most people have bigger barriers than I do. Because theatres are inaccessible, or can't accommodate a range of abilities. Or people don't even hear about the shows, or worst of all, they don't feel welcome.

I have a very hands-on, socialist political output. So I try and be like, what are the ways we can actually reach in and finagle things to be able to empower more people to get involved? Childcare, audience accessibility, outreach, visiting neighborhoods and town outside the stupid bubble, facilitating talk backs. In my dream palace theatre, half the tickets would go to subscribers and the other half would go to traveling people in for free. It's crappy to be so optimistic.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  So many. I'll just list three: Sarah DeLappe (like so many people, The Wolves rocked me), Maria Irene Fornés (I go back and read Fefu and Her Friends every time I don't know what I'm doing with my life), and nonverbal storytellers like burlesque dancers, circus folks, mimes, and any un-traditional mover that takes a risk.

And most recently, I met J. Nicole Brooks about two years ago and am just flabbergasted by everything she does. She writes, acts, directs, and is like a social media political hero. Her Instagram stories are always relevant, sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, and she's just the warmest woman ever. She's been working on this play about Mayor Jane Byrne, Activist Marion Stamps, and the Democratic machine of Chicago. From the very first draft, I fell in love.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Oh, I'm a sucker for anything that grips me, no matter what the topic. I'm a little old fashioned in the sense that I love to track and root for a central character on some Greek-ish quest. Also I love that horrible great feeling of being happy and sad at the same time. So painful ha ha but I like live for it.

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

A:  Work your ass off and know that everyone feels like a failure. And don't stop writing when you don't have opportunities lined up, because that just makes you a sore loser.

I feel a little silly answering this anyway because I also feel I've just started.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Read my essay on juggling the bittersweet work-life balance for parent artists in American Theatre magazine. Print issue comes out November.

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