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May 22, 2017

I Interview Playwrights Part 943: Becca Schlossberg

Becca Schlossberg

Hometown: Originally from Livingston, NJ

Current Town: Brooklyn, NY

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  The two things I am juggling right now are BLOOD MEMORY, a solo show about tracing the line of trauma from the Holocaust between my grandmother, my mother, and me. Its also kinda funny. It’s been a big dream of mine to do a solo show and I’m very happy I’m finally doing it. It also goes into my love of musical theater, and theater in general, and the connections between theater, therapy, and religion. Theater has helped me heal in a real way. The second thing is THE UNTOLD YIPPIE PROJECT, a passion project of mine for about 6 years now. It’s a docudrama about a day in 1970 when a group of Yippies closed down Disneyland. (Do a quick google search and you will yield some fantastic results.)

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 loved Lego sets and I would do anything I could to get my hands on them. Every birthday or holiday, I would usually ask my parents for one. So, for years my mom and went to Toys R Us to satisfy my Lego craving. Then one day when I was about ten and we went to Toys R Us, they had redone the store to create Boys and Girls sections. The Legos were now in the Boys section. My little ten-year-old self had my first moment of female outrage. I remember thinking how ridiculous that was and reasoning there was no reason this should be a ‘boys’ toy. Part of what I take from that event is that most of us don’t really change or gain strong beliefs until we really are confronted with reality. Most times, we like to avoid those things. In my life I like to run from drama. My plays are when I stop running. In my plays, I like to confront the things that are haunting me.

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

A:  I would do more colorblind / gender blind / diverse casting. In many plays, we are asked to go on a journey and suspend our disbelief to a certain extent. In many ways theater allows us to more heavily rely on our imagination, which is great. That’s why I really feel like with theater, more than film or TV, where we are made to see something as ‘reality,’ theater is really a place where we can cast whoever we want for many, many stories and people will absolutely go with it. They just want to see great performers.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Martin McDonaugh (Pillowman blew my little 16 year old mind), John Leguizamo (dude had a massive effect on my personality), Arthur Miller (genius), Lin Manuel Miranda (double genius), Claudia Weill (pioneer and genius), Kenny Lonergan (incredible, I want to write like him; he set the standard of naturalistic dialogue for me), Amy Herzog (gets me right in my feels), Robert Askins (dialogue like honey; stories that slap you in the face while making you weep), Paula Vogel (pioneer, role model, and unbelievable body of work.)

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I like stories that go straight for the heart. I love the moments when you're watching a play and you feel your heart connecting to who is onstage and the door inside of yourself, often that you didn't even know was there, opens. I'm also a big fan of ensemble-driven work. I like what everyone has their say and their moment to shine. In many ways, I really feel it is the best way to represent the communal experience that is Theatre. I also really like plays that explore movement like PETER AND THE STARCATCHER or LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. They create a type of holistic experience in theater, a type that engages all of the senses that I feel is often lacking from plays.

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

A:  Someone said to me that you should give yourself permission to write the worst shit in the world. I think that’s definitely true. You have to open yourself up enough to get a writing flow going and sometimes that means writing bullshit. You can always throw that away later, but you gotta get the gate open. Also, read/see plays; never be ashamed of that. You should know your history.

Q:  Plugs, please: 

A:   Come see THE UNTOLD YIPPIE PROJECT this summer! Coming to Access Theater August 5th-12th. I’ll post ticket info on my website here and on the Sunglasses After Dark Facebook page (my production company that I run with brilliant director Madeleine Parisian) here. Also, I make bad fan art so you can follow me here.

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