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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...

Jun 26, 2019

I Interview Playwrights Part 1053: Matthew Amendt

Matthew Amendt

Hometown: Indiana, PA.

Current Town: Brooklyn, NY

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  A new play called THE COMEDIAN'S TRAGEDY running at the Access Theater until July 6th, an 11 actor supernatural story about Ancient Athens crashing into our time, and what, if anything, we should do with the past as it relates to our future. It's filled with love, sex, violence, comedy, grief, and a deep sense of loss and cynicism among the characters as they try to fix their world.

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

A:  That's a tough one? I suppose I'd say that I was a sick kid for awhile, in body and spirit, dealing with some health issues and a lot of death and general sadness in the adults around me. One of them handed over a book of Greek Myths, probably hoping to shut me up for a few hours, and it changed my life. It taught me that the broken places are the parts that make you human, that bad things happening to good people is, on some level, our birthright. Those heroines and heroes seemed to be saying that we all must suffer alone, but we can be alone together, if that makes any sense?

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

A:  Our obsession with buildings and institutions rather than artists and stories.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  A lot of Brits, strangely, maybe because it seems that subsidized art allows for some wackier stuff to go mainstream. People like Jez Butterworth, Sarah Kane, Mark Rylance, Stoppard. Of course the big titans of American Drama-- Lorraine Hansberry, August Wilson, Kushner, Miller, Williams, O'Neill.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Earnest plays, even when they're hopeless. Metaphor rather than allegory.

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

A:  Make work for people to see. The workshop system doesn't make any sense; the dramatic form is about sharing your work with actors, then with an audience. If your goal is to get published, you might want to write a novel. Find your people and tell stories with them. Listen to people who are willing to collaborate with you; they know the characters better than you do almost immediately, and the best playwrights always write for actors they adore.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Come see our show! THE COMEDIAN'S TRAGEDY, running at the Access until July 6th. It's a rare thing, 11 actors in a downtown theater telling a punked out new story inspired by an old, old world, with some truly amazing performers: Ron Menzel, Tony nominated Derek Smith, Sarah Baskin, Anna Sundberg, Gary Lowery, and many more, directed by Bill McCallum. thecomedianstragedy.com

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