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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...

Oct 15, 2020

I Interview Playwrights Part 1095: Cavan Hallman





Cavan Hallman


Hometown: Orlando! – You have to sing it, like in The Book of Mormon.

Current Town: Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It’s harder to sing, but a really good place.

Q:  Tell me about Night Launch.

A:  It’s inspired by my family. It struck me deeply at a holiday dinner a few years ago how diametrically opposed some of my family members’ memories were, the different ways that people choose to re-write their shared histories.

In the play, Brenda is exploring memories and traumas that her mother either remembers differently, or flat out denies. It’s set in Cocoa Beach, Florida and jumps around in time, backdropped by rocket and shuttle launches from the early days of the Space Program.

It’s a different type of play for me. A memory play, and I think memory plays are shifty and deserve a little magic. While the characters go to some difficult places, I hope that people also walk away with a sense of awe and wonder.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I’m writing a comic screenplay about a Catholic priest and a hedonistic ghost. It sounds like a “… walks into a bar” joke, and maybe that’s all it’ll end up being. It’s a throwback to 80’s ghost comedies like Heart and Souls. I’m having a ton of fun and it’s serving as a kind of palate cleanser.

The other thing I’m working on right now is best described as a tragi-comedy and it’s more in keeping with whatever my “normal” style is. It’s coming in fits and starts, but that’s normal for me to work on more than one project at a time. This one takes place in a mega-mansion on Lake Superior during the collapse of society. We track the journey through the perspective of a woman with a rare and real inner ear disorder that gives her supercharged hearing.

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

A:  I must have been about six years old and we were living in McIntosh, Florida, which was a tiny little orange grove town without a stop light. I was allowed to walk the few blocks from our house to the public park whenever I wanted.

It was shortly after Christmas and I had gotten this amazing all-white sweatsuit that I appropriately treasured. I put the sweatsuit on and head down to the park and the big slide, alone. I climb to the top and just a few inches down, right in the center of the slide, right where my little all-white sweatsuit butt was supposed to go, was a big fresh dollop of bird poop.

But I’m a problem-solver.

I throw my legs over the edges, figuring I’ll scoot down with plenty of room to spare between my body and the slide. My pants will stay pristine and fun will be accomplished.

And, of course, I fall from almost the very top, breaking my arm. I’m stranded, a solo six year-old in a park, as the bone keeps fighting to break through the skin.

And I look back on that story and don’t think it’s horrifying – I find it ridiculous. To go to that kind of extreme to protect an all-white sweatsuit is pretty hilarious, and that probably best explains who I am as a writer.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Read something written by Ike Holter, Gina Femia or Calamity West. These are contemporary writers who deserve to be on people’s reading lists, and their work inspires me.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I love a play that is satisfactorily complete, but also feels like the characters and the stories live on beyond the fall of the curtain. Since I mentioned Ike Holter’s writing before, I’d say that Sender is a great example of this ideal. I directed a production for Mirrorbox Theatre, where I’m the AD.

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

A:  Don’t edit until you have a complete first draft. It took me forever when I was getting started to actually complete anything. I had a very strong inner critic that wanted to tinker and refine before there was ever any tangible object to be examined.

Create something, and then turn your critical eye towards it. Then do it again. And again. And again.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  I mentioned that I’m the AD for Mirrorbox Theatre – and I’m so proud of what we do. We’re in our third season as the only company in Iowa exclusively doing state premieres of contemporary works. On March 20, we started a series of free Friday night readings, Out the Box, and you can track our events and register at mirrorboxtheatre.com/out-the-box



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Oct 5, 2020

Live Theater and Zoom Theater

My play The Parking Lot closed last week in Cedar Rapids at Mirrorbox Theater and is up in Vegas right now at Majestic Rep.  

It's about a couple deciding the fate of their relationship and we cast couples who are quarantined together.  People watch from their cars and listen on FM station through their radios.  



Here is some press





And this Wednesday and next I have two readings over Zoom with Chicago's Kane Rep



Tune in at 7:30pm CST Oct 7 and Oct 14  If you miss the reading, the links are up for a bit afterwards too.



Young Love, Oct 7

Young Love, a play in two plays. The lives of two high school students become intertwined as they rehearse Romeo and Juliet in a classroom. In a graveyard, we chronicle the ups and downs of a couple over the course of twenty-six years.

Such Small Hands, Oct 14

 Paul is cancer ridden and descending into dementia. He wants to take his own life while he still feels like himself. Marie, his wife, fights to prevent his suicide. A play about love, aging, selfishness and selflessness.

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Aug 3, 2020

I Interview Playwrights Part 1094: E.E. Adams



photo by Deborah Lopez

E.E. Adams


Hometown:  Johnstown, PA

Current Town:  NYC, NY

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I'm in the process of turning a play of mine, "Snow Globe", into a TV pilot. It's about mothers, daughters and Cryonics. I'm also having a ton of fun flexing my novel writing skills during lockdown. I'm also currently working on my first novel. It's called "Jackal". It's about a young Black woman who returns to her hometown for her best friend's wedding. However, when the bride's young daughter is viciously snatched during the ceremony, she must race against the clock to find the girl and ensure that no others are taken. It's a dark supernatural thriller that explores the racially charged history of small-town America.

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 spent summers at my Dad's house, I was the kid who had to go to the library every week. I'd get like three to five books and then read them all at once. They were always vastly different genres with overly ambitious page counts. I still do that, I'm always reading at least two things at a once and working on at least two things at a time. Every project I undertake is always overly ambitious and I really wouldn't have in any other way.

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

A:  It seems like everything about theatre is changing right now and that is both terrifying and exciting. I hope that after this theatres keep finding inventive ways to invite more people into the room. Both physically and creatively. This change is an incredible opportunity and I really hope it isn't wasted.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Adrienne Kennedy. Lynn Nottage. Kirsten Greenidge.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Necessary stories. A story that is begging to be told or one that people are hungry for.

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

A:  Watch plays. Read plays. And write a ton. Be curious about the world as a whole, not just theatre. Engage in all kinds of storytelling, podcasts, books, newspapers, blogs, family stories, community stories, history etc. Art is like breathing, you need to inhale and just as much as you exhale or else you'll suffocate.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  My play "Ink'dWell" will be developed with the New Light Theatre Project this fall. Stay tuned for info about a digital presentation here: https://www.newlighttheaterproject.com/
Follow my work here: www.iameeadams.com


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Jul 27, 2020

I Interview Playwrights Part 1093: A.A. Brenner



A.A. Brenner

Hometown: New York City

Current Town: New York City

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I'm currently in rehearsals for a Zoom reading of EMILY DRIVER'S GREAT RACE THROUGH TIME AND SPACE, my co-written play with Gregg Mozgala for all audiences, which was featured on the 2020 Kilroys List and was originally commissioned by La Jolla Playhouse. This reading will be produced by Queens Theatre and The Museum, Arts & Culture Access Consortium (MAC) in honor of the 30th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act. 

And I've also plunged into drafting BLANCHE & STELLA, which is a (very loose) modernized adaptation of Tennessee Williams' A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE with a dash of THE GLASS MENAGERIE as well. The show features an all-female+ cast, no Stanley, and a Gentleman Caller who isn't a gentleman. Needless to say, I'm pretty excited about this one.

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

A:  As a young queer kid growing up with Cerebral Palsy, I was beyond lucky to have been taken under the wing of my great-aunt Helen, who was a Polio survivor and a 1st grade teacher in the Brooklyn Public School system for over 40 years. Aunt Helen literally taught me how to read and write—we wrote my first story ever together when I was 4 years old—and also instilled in me her passion for the theatre, taking me to matinees that I was definitely far too young to see and very afraid of (the end of Beauty and the Beast is pretty intense for a two year-old), but also totally captivated by. She didn't have any kids or a family of her own, so I became her de-facto "grandchild," and her motto, "You can do anything you want to do, be anything you want to be, if you try" is something that sticks with me until this day. 

Aunt Helen unfortunately passed away when I was 14, and my first play, which I wrote shortly thereafter, was my attempt at coming to terms with her illness and death, as my family and I took her in for the last nine months of her life. I've been writing plays ever since, and have come to view my career as a playwright as one of the last (and most important) gifts she's ever given me.

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

A:  Accessibility. We need more and different stories about all kinds of people, not just the cis-, white, able-bodied mainstream, and we also need to make the actual act of watching / attending theatre more accessible to communities who may not be able to physically get to the theatre, whether for economic, geographic, or disability status-related reasons.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  I was inspired to write my first play about my Aunt's passing after reading THE GLASS MENAGERIE as a freshman in high school, so Tennesee Williams is a big one for me. My professors at Columbia University School of the Arts, where I'm entering the third-year of my MFA, are huge heroes of mine as well (Lynn Nottage, David Henry Hwang, and Chuck Mee). And then, of course, there's Paula Vogel.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I love theatre that breaks boundaries and challenges societal power-structures and theatrical form. That's the kind of theatre I strive to make, and is also the kind of theatre I most enjoy. I love theatre that surprises you, and that invites you to interrogate the complexities of life, humanity, and our own mortality. And I love theatre that dives into seemingly-opposed dichotomies headfirst, that addresses the cognitive dissonance inherent to our lives, cultures, and selves, and that shows audiences that "both things can be true."

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

A:  Just keep writing, and write stories that honestly and truthfully interrogate the deep questions you have and hold onto. And get uncomfortable. Because if you're uncomfortable, it means you're writing something that matters to you. And if it matters to you, it's probably going to matter to a lot of other people as well.

Q:  Plugs, please: 

A:  You can register for the Zoom reading of EMILY DRIVER'S GREAT RACE THROUGH TIME AND SPACE, which will be presented at 2 pm EST on Wednesday, 7/29, here: https://queenstheatre.org/event/emily-drivers-great-race-through-time-and-space/. If you can't make the reading, a recording of the performance will be available on the Queens Theatre website until August 1st at www.queenstheatre.org

And for more about me and my work, you can check out my website (www.aabrenner.com) and my New Play Exchange page (https://newplayexchange.org/users/17071/aa-brenner). 

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Jul 25, 2020

My new socially distant play



Last week I posted about my new play on Facebook and Twitter.

"My new play is meant to be performed outside by two actors quarantined together (1M, 1F) who can play a couple. It takes place in a parking lot and people watch from the safety of their cars. Anyone want to read it?"

I had 2 productions planned before I posted.  Now there are 4.  And 6 recs on New Play exchange.  I sent it to about 180 or so people who asked. (Let me know if you want to read it and are not on NPX)

Tiny_Theater did a reading in two parts (although it's a 60 minute play)

Part 1 is here

Part 2 is here


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Jul 23, 2020

I Interview Playwrights Part 1092: T.J. Young




TJ Young

Hometown: Friendswood, TX

Current Town: Pittsburgh, PA

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I am working on an adaptation of The Three Musketeers, a live streaming/augmented reality project, and preparing for a reading of my new play titled Unnamed Baby Play.

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

A: I would change the way we approach accessibility. I think that we are often really mindful of physical accessibility needs, but keeping in mind the social-economic needs of audiences is important as well. I know there are companies who are doing fantastic work in that regard but I feel like there is a long way to go to truly address it.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A: August Wilson, Paula Vogel, Stew, Steven Sater, Brecht, Suzan-Lori Parks

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A: Theater that looks at the intersectionality of characters and how they all bring their own baggage to a situation really gets me pumped. The plays that mess with verisimilitude and explore the internal and the magical excite me as well. When a play has fun things for designers to do and think about, utilizes high levels of theatricality, and explores deep psychological questions through those tools, I find it to be a winning combination to me.

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

A:  The best advice that I ever got and continue to get is to show up ready to learn every day. You get better by writing, so continue to write even when it is hard.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  www.tj-young.com
subTEXT Solutions Dramaturgy Group; www.subtextsolutions.com

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Jul 22, 2020

I Interview Playwrights Part 1091: Azure D. Osborne-Lee



Photo credit Gaspar Marquez

Azure D. Osborne-Lee

Hometown: Oak Ridge, TN

Current Town: Brooklyn, NY

Q:  What are you working on now? 

A:  I'm working on a short piece called "Sundown Support" that's going to be a part of #WhileWeBreathe, a Night of Creative Protest to Benefit the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

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

A:  I'd make theatre more inclusive, truly inclusive! I want theatre to be more accessible and more reflective of the demographics of the world as-is.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes? 

A:  If pressed I would say that Tarell Alvin McCraney is my favorite playwright. Sharon Bridgforth and Daniel Alexander Jones are forever theatrical heroes of mine.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you? 

A:  I love new work! Theatre that challenges expectations, surprises me, scandalizes me -- that's what excites me. I also love some good stage magic, sets and props that transform into other things.

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

A:  Wear one hat at a time. If you're writing a draft (especially the first draft), your only job is to do what you need to get the words on the page. Do not try to wear your editor hat while you're generating content. Don't think too much about how the work will be done. Just write what you think needs to happen. Listen to your characters. Listen to your body. Listen to your guides.

Q:  Plugs, please: 

A:  My website is azureosbornelee.com. Keep up with what I'm doing there! My production company is Roots and River Productions. We can always use support and donations.
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