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1000 PLAYWRIGHT INTERVIEWS

1000 Playwright Interviews The first interview I posted was on June 3, 2009.  It was Jimmy Comtois.  I decided I would start interview...

Jun 28, 2019

I Interview Playwrights Part 1055: Aaron Ricciardi




Aaron Ricciardi

Hometown:  Coral Springs, Florida.

Current Town:  New York City

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I just finished my MFA in Playwriting at Indiana University, where I studied under Peter Gil-Sheridan, so one thing I’m working on right now is adjusting to being out of school again! I’m currently writing a play for young people to see and/or do, called Hanukkah Harriet. It’s a commission from the Jewish Theatre of Bloomington. I’m about to do a rewrite of my play Only Child, and I’ve been working for a while on a new musical based on a German novel from the 1930s. I also have a few ideas for new plays that I want to start working on this summer. I plan on working on a new play during my Core Apprenticeship at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, which starts in July.

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 eight, I saw the national tour of Chicago at the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami with my mom. Velma Kelly was played by Jasmine Guy, who I knew from TV, and Billy Flynn was played by Obba Babatunde, who I knew from the movie That Thing You Do!, and sitting in front of us was some woman who was an anchor on the ten o’clock news. I felt like that theater that night was the coolest place anyone could ever find themselves. During the car ride home, I basically sang every song and recited every line—I remembered every word of the show. I particularly liked a line that Velma said to Roxie in the first act about being “shit out of luck.” That night hooked me on theatre. And I’m still that kid, knowing all the words to things, geeking out on celebrities’ credits, feeling so cool for loving something so dorky.

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

A:  I would make ticket prices cheaper, the way they are in other countries, where theatre is subsidized by the government.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  In alphabetical order: Howard Ashman, Annie Baker, J.M. Barrie, Marc Blitzstein, Bertolt Brecht, Mario Cantone, Caryl Churchill, William Finn, Maria Irene Fornes, Steven Hoggett, Larry Kramer, Lisa Kron, Tony Kushner, Steven Lutvak, Taylor Mac, Joseph Papp, Suzan-Lori Parks, Bernadette Peters, Sarah Ruhl, Laura Schellhardt, Neil Simon, Anna Deavere Smith, Stephen Sondheim, Nilaja Sun, Elizabeth Swados, Jeanine Tesori, Paula Vogel, Wendy Wasserstein, Thornton Wilder, Tennessee Williams, George C. Wolfe.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Theater that’s shocking. Theater that’s true. Theater that’s complex. Theater that’s political. Theater that’s spectacular. Theater that’s wildly funny. Theater that makes use of its liveness. Theater that uses or manipulates style in a fun way. Theater that honors what came before it. Theater that manages to check all of the above boxes while also being able to speak to an audience beyond the typical progressive, intellectual theatergoer? That’s what really gets me going. Sometimes I feel like theater people are in a perpetual circle of making theater for other theater people, and I think we should reach for more than that.

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

A:  Do your work, and educate yourself about the profession—how it works, who’s involved, what kind of theatre is happening now, what kind of theatre came before what’s happening now. But, first, do your work. Suzan-Lori Parks has this great quote about how she only gives two prompts to herself and her students: “A) Write. B) Rewrite. These work well.”

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  I will be one of three Core Apprentices at the Playwrights’ Center for their 2019-2020 season. Next June at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, there will be a weeklong workshop and reading of a new play by me.

Hanukkah Harriet will be produced in Bloomington, Indiana, by STAGES Bloomington, this December.
 
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2 comments:

Arthur Micheal said...

I watch Aaron’s play THE TRAVELS back in 2014with my colleagues from 7$essay review at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. It was a really nice play and I enjoyed it a lot especially the songs are pretty awesome. I came to know that those songs are also written by him that was neat.

Myra said...

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