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Sep 2, 2016

I Interview Playwrights Part 872: Mary Laws

Mary Laws

Hometown: The Woodlands, TX

Current Town:  Los Angeles, CA

Q: Tell me about Blueberry Toast:

A:  I suck at talking about my plays, so here is the blurb that my collaborators helped write:

It's a Sunday morning, in a sunny, suburban kitchen. Barb is making breakfast for her husband, Walt. Their children, Jack and Jill, are busy writing a play. When Barb and Walt disagree over a seemingly innocuous piece of blueberry toast, the veneer of their polished existence begins to crack and what's underneath might eat them for breakfast.

I wrote this play for Sarah Ruhl’s workshop when I was at Yale after she gave me a copy of Tales From Ovid by Ted Hughes (which changed my life). It is funny. (Hopefully.) And scary. (Hopefully.)

Q: What else are you working on now?

A:  Well, I write for a television show called Preacher right now. It is on AMC and it is based on the Preacher comics by Garth Ennis (that you should definitely read).

I’m also writing a play about clowns which could be really silly or really good or both.

BUT…………… What I really want to do is spend a year travelling with my friend/director/collaborator Margot Bordelon and making interview plays/projects for small towns across the country. If you know anyone who is independently wealthy and would like to fund our little venture, tell them to email me at LawsMC@gmail.com.

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

A:  The subscription system that theaters use to sell tickets. I think it becomes dangerous when an audience is allowed to dictate what kind of theatre they will see. Theatre should challenge the audience and make them uncomfortable! I worry sometimes that the theatre I see produced at companies with subscription based systems is too safe. And I mean, I get it! Lose your subscribers, lose your season. Maybe I think there should be more national funding for theaters. And for the arts in general.

Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Reading Sarah Ruhl made me want to be a writer. Reading Sarah Kane made me want to be a badassmutherfuckingwriter. And reading Caryl Churchill... Well that bitch exploded my brain. These three women writers are my holy trinity. If ever I am stuck, in doubt, depressed, or lost at lonely-writer-sea, I read The Clean House or Blasted or Far Away and my faith in theatre is restored.

Q: What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I’m a huge fangirl of plays with innovative or interesting structure!

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

A:  Write a lot. Read a lot. Go have non-theatre-related experiences. Repeat?

I don’t know. I don’t have any advice. I don’t know shit. And honestly, I’m not a naturally gifted writer, either. I’m not, like, some boob who doesn’t know the difference between ‘you’re’ and ‘your’, but I’ve also never lived in a movie montage where I am struck by sudden inspiration and the narrative flows easily from my fingers while I’m, like, smoking cloves and staring pensively out the window and at the end I stand, presenting to the world my magnum opus!!! Does this ever really happen to writers? Or is Hollywood just lying again? It has certainly never happened to me. Writing is really fucking hard. Actually, some days I think I chose to be a writer because I knew it would be hard, and I like doing things that people tell me I can’t do (because I’m a stubborn asshole who doesn’t like the word ‘no’). But I practice a lot. I write every day. And I love it, which helps. I don’t know. Fuck it.

OH -- Ask Paula Vogel! That is my advice. Go take her playwriting bootcamp somewhere!! She is one of the smartest women I’ve ever met, a beautiful writer, and a terrific mentor. When I was just starting out and applying to grad school, Sarah Ruhl gave me this advice: Go somewhere free, and go study with Paula Vogel. So, I’ll just plagiarize her advice and make it mine. Study with Paula Vogel!

Q: Plugs, please:

A:  Blueberry Toast opens Sept. 17. Go to www.echotheatercompany.com for tickets!

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