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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 9, 2019

I Interview Playwrights Part 1063: River Timms

River Timms

Hometown:  Huntsville, AL is where I was born, but I spent most of my childhood in Tanner, AL

Current Town:  Nashville, TN

Q:  Tell me about Tall Tales.

A:  I had just graduated from college and was on my way to my parents' house for my brother's wedding in September 2018, and I was struck with a question that seemed to come out of nowhere: what if I was actually moving back home right now? Growing up in relatively small towns, I always had the dream of moving away, and it seemed like I had accomplished that, but just a short string of bad luck could force me back home at any moment it seems. The thought of moving back home terrified me. Nashville is a progressive(-ish) city, one that I don't totally feel unsafe in as a queer person, but my hometown is... not that. I never thought I would write a "homophobia play," but the story just lept out of me. I began work on 'Tall Tales' on the day of my brother's wedding, and a first draft was finished in about two months.

'Tall Tales' is a horror play about being isolated and othered in the Christ-haunted Deep South, primarily for being gay. It's a play involving Christianity and ex-gays and folk witchcraft and lots of blood. It discusses the idea of queer bodies being seen as political before human, but it's also a play about healing from the deep scars that discrimination and religion can cause, the friends that keep us LGBTQ folk above water when it seems like the world is against us. Living as a queer person in the south is frightening a LOT of the time, but having the right people around makes life better.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I'm the Literary Manager of Woven Theatre in Nashville, so I'm still overseeing our season. 'Tall Tales' is our final announced show, and in November, we'll be presenting a reading of 'Torera' by Monet Hurst-Mendoza (which I HIGHLY recommend! It's a wonderful play). Now that TT has opened, I'm moving on to work for my next play "Until the Waves Come," a play about the value of art after an apocalyptic event.

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

A:  I wish theater would take more chances on weird stuff and new plays. 'Slave Play' by Jeremy O'Harris being on Broadway gives me hope though. There's just a lot of really wonderful theatre out there that's unconventional that deserves to be seen, but I frequently see theater companies choose "safe" classic plays for their seasons instead of bold new plays.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Sarah Ruhl made me want to be a playwright; after reading "A Clean House," I never looked back. Also, Tony Kushner's brand of fantasy (especially when utilized in plays that deal with gay trauma like in "Angels In America") constantly inspires me to push the fantasy in my work further.

Also, I am indebted to my dramaturg Todd Brian Backus! He really helped turn 'Tall Tales' into something special, and I'll be going to him again for his services.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Oh, gosh, I love magical realism and fantasy-inspired theater. I love seeing a play that provides me with a brand new experience. I also get really excited about any plays that involve LGBTQ characters and storylines.

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

A:  YOU ARE GOING TO WRITE BAD STUFF SOMETIMES. I scared myself to death trying to hold myself to this standard of everything I write having to be revolutionary. When I heard my first bad play read out loud (in front of people!), it devastated me. It'll probably devastate you too. Let it. Own it! Then, continue forward. That's the nature of this work. There's a lot of failure involved, but experimenting and trying stuff out is honorable, even if it doesn't work out. Also, KEEP your "bad" stuff. There's always something good in there that you can cannibalize for another, better play.

Q:  Plugs please:

A:  My twitter is @RiverTimms, and Woven's is @Woven_Theatre. We've also got an indiegogo campaign running to help fund the season: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/a-season-of-new-plays#/. Tickets for "Tall Tales" can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tall-tales-by-ad-timms-tickets-70931697617

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