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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...

Jul 28, 2017

I Interview Playwrights Part 967: Daaimah Mubashshir

Daaimah Mubashshir

Hometown: Houston, Tx

Current town: New York City

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  Not in this Room - a progressively heart warming family “dramedy” or maybe a “darmedy”. The family is Muslim and African American and the daughter is, of course queer, and the mom allows her to come home - so right there everybody knows this will be a comedy---all the way. And it’s super relatable too. I’ve had so much fun writing this play because it’s an homage to my mom. She is the absolute best.

Everyday Afroplay (EDAP) - is an ongoing daily playwriting exercise, a living play text, born out of a dire need to capture and express the ever-shifting perspective of living in black skin. (There are 70 plays posted online, now, but that will grow.) Over the past year I have presented EDAP twice, once at The Bushwick Starr and once at JACK. Between the processes of staging from The Bushwick Starr to JACK, I discovered that EDAP has a fluid nature that demands that the larger performance of the evening mold itself according to the space it inhabits. Each time EDAP is presented, it will be re-invented. As time passes there will be new plays added to the collection and each presentation site will call for different collaborators who will naturally have their own specific relationship to blackness and the collection of EDAP.

Tara Ahmadinejad and I are developing a musical, with New Georges, about the most perfect west village nanny that takes the kids to the other 4 boroughs. It's zany, hip , and socially conscious.

Lastly, Emilyn Kowaleski and I, are developing a new play that reimagines our favorite western philosophers – Aristotle and John Locke – as hard-core un-gentrified brooklynites (com-e-dy).

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 my mom tells it I was asking treacherous questions at three years old like “What is the Truth?” and “How will you know when I’m lying?” It might be that I am just hard wired for making stuff up. Growing up, I definitely got myself in lots of trouble, experimenting with truth versus lies. Also, my favorite place to pass the time was in the library. It still is… I would skip class just to hang out in the library. I didn’t go to my prom (for so many reasons) instead I was in a library somewhere… or at least that’s what I told my parents.

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

A:  American Theater?

I don’t know. It's daunting to think about changing something that vehemently resists altering itself. It is exhausting. Especially coming from a point of view of an “emerging” playwright.

I love theatre so much. I need to write and make-work just about as much as I need food and water. Yet, when I examine what American Theater is today - what it deems as essential - who it acknowledges and celebrates - who it produces - who it feeds. I feel like I’m in a marriage of convenience or a one sided relationship of sorts. A relationship that any self respecting friend, therapist or even Delilah Rene (radio personality) would tell me to leave immediately ---- that I’m worth more, that I should look for someone who loves me back.

What gives me energy is looking at theatre as one type of bridge between language and human experience. That would make me a bridge-maker of sorts. As a queer, black, female raised in an Islamic Tradition, my background is full of conundrums and opposing ideologies. Which gives me plenty of building material to make some really interesting bridges. For my health and sanity, I focus my attention towards being the best bridge-maker I can be.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  This is the hardest question for me because on one hand I could list all the playwrights, theatre directors, and artists, whose work keeps me in the game. (See below) Or I could tell you about this one time, I was on the A train platform headed uptown- and an old man sat with his karaoke machine or maybe it was a boom box singing along with the Temptations “Just my Imagination” He was singing as if he had been doing it for years and tonight was the last night -That hard, with that much love, in such a mundane environment and an almost forgotten about song. It was the most theatrical experience… He actually cut me to my core … I cried all the way home.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I am excited by theater that grasps for the truth, or theater that creates a truthful experience. Even a work that is built on lies can be truthful.

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

A:  Read, read, read – everything

Study what you read to see how it is made

Try to re-make what you just read

If it’s too neat, then mess it up

Or if it’s too messy, make it neat.

Take what you just made and show it to your friends

be absolutely sure you trust these people

here is a Elizabeth Gilbert’s 4 question test:

· Do I trust this person's taste and judgment?

· Does this person understand what I'm trying to create here?

· Does this person genuinely want me to succeed?

· Is this person capable of delivering the truth to me in a sensitive and compassionate manner?

After showing it to your trusted network

then show it to people outside that network

rinse and repeat

Some of your peers might seem to be winning all the awards and opportunities and you are not. That is real. And it will most likely happen. Do not worry. Other peoples successes don’t make you any less successful. Honestly, there is no greater joy that re-reading my work and remembering the experience of making it. The tears, the anger, the laughter etc etc. Writing is the best healer of the human condition. No award can speak to that.

Q:  When not writing on a computer, what's your go-to paper and writing utensil?

A:  I love a black gel rollerball and a moleskine or one of the many journals I’ve gotten over the years for my birthday.

Q:  When on computer, what's your font?

A:  I love Helvetica
--> Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Oooh so much fun stuff. I usually post upcoming events on my website –www.daaimahmubashshir.com You can also sign up for updates there as well.

A tiny partial list of playwrights, theatre makers, artists that keep me in the game (in no particular order)

Opera all types (Early Puccini is current fav)

Kerry James Marshall

Kaari Upson

Stacey Rose

Amina Henry

William Burke

Jonathan Payne

James Tyler

Richard Maxwell

Sarah Einspanier

debbie tucker green

Wole Soyinka

Alice Childress

Adrienne Kennedy

Pina Bausch

Raja Feather Kelly

Lynn Nottage

Charles Mee

Mimi Lien

Hoi Polloi

Chris Ofili

Alice Birch

Tim Crouch

Maria Irene Fornes

Jean Genet

***there are so many other names that go here****

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