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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...

Dec 3, 2019

I Interview Playwrights Part 1069: Francesca Pazniokas

Francesca Pazniokas

Hometown: Brookside, NJ

Current town: Brooklyn, NYC

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:   I mostly write dark, surreal narrative work, but I also really enjoy working with verbatim/found text. So I recently decided to start creating my own little hallucinatory, abstract documentary films. I'm also working on a verbatim theater project I started last year, where I interview men about masculinity and their fathers. I'm always working on four or five projects at a time. I have to keep my brain busy, or else it's like a little puppy destroying a living room when it's left alone.

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

A:  My grandmother was good friends with the nuns at our local convent, so when she'd babysit me as a kid, she'd bring me to hang out with the nuns. Some of my earliest memories are running around this big, gorgeous church with a gaggle of nuns behind me, feeling like I ran the place. I think that's why I like theater -- I'm not religious, but I love ritual and spectacle.

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

A:  When people pay thousands of dollars for a space rental, but don't pay their actors anything. You could perform the play without the theater, but you couldn't perform it without actors. Get a smaller space and pay your actors.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Kelleen Conway Blanchard is one of the main reasons I make my own work. I used to live in terror that people would see the inside of my weird brain and be totally horrified. But working on Kelleen's play "Kittens In A Cage," I had so much fun playing in her wild, grimy, strange, hilarious, love-filled world. All her work is so singularly her -- you know it's a Kelleen play from the very first lines. Her writing made me realize the power of an authentic, individual voice. Anyway, I just love Kelleen's work, and more people on the East Coast should know her plays.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you? 

A:  I want to see work that throws me off-kilter, that makes me walk outside afterwards feeling like real life is actually a bizarre alternate universe. That's the kind of work I want to create and the kind of work I want to see. Strange and beautiful things.

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

A: When you're new at anything, you're going to be bad at it. That's how it always works, in every field. Tell yourself: "Let's create some crappy work. Let's go get rejected." Embrace it, and you'll get better. Write as much as you can, as often as you can, and don't put so much pressure on yourself to create great work. Just create work.

Q:  Plugs, please: 

A:  I'll be working with Queensborough College this spring on my taxidermy play WUNDERKAMMER. I also have a few short films coming out soon, and three episodes with the online series CITY KITTIES.

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