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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...

Nov 5, 2018

I Interview Playwrights Part 1013: Hank Kimmel

Hank Kimmel

Hometowns: Pittsburgh, PA; Sands Point, NY; Lakeville, CT

Current town: Atlanta, GA

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I am working on writing honorably, where, as a playwright, I am there to serve the characters rather than the other way around. I want to make sure my characters have the ability to charm, even those whose external circumstances may make them un-likable. (I often write about distressed lawyers, former athletes, and religious strays.) I also continue to work on making sure that all my characters have some kind of driving “want,” something they’re either going to get (or not) by the end of the play. I know this is basic, but within the trappings of theme and purpose, I find it’s easy to lose sight of this.

More tangibly, I am working on Confessions of A Hit Man, a first reunion of two ex-football players 15 years after one permanently paralyzed the other in an otherwise meaningless game. I received a Reiser Lab grant from the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta to develop this play, and my team (Eric Little, Tisha Whitaker, Daphne Mintz, Kathi Frankel) and I have a showcase reading in December. I am also working on developing salon type readings that are meant to be shared in non-traditional theatre settings. My colleague Mira Hirsch and I have lined up our first gig, Hank Kimmel’s Holiday Shorts, at Kitchen Six Restaurant in early December.

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 was at sleepaway camp, one of the campers was having a miserable summer. Our counselor, Mark Antonucci, a most generous and gracious person, asked me and my bunkmates if we could make room in our cabin for this distraught camper. Our bunk, at least to us, already seemed crowded, and we said no. That answer still haunts me to this day. By being more flexible and open, we could have helped this camper rescue his summer. Instead we placed our convenience over his needs. As a result, to this day, I try to make my default answer “yes” to requests that might create momentary discomfort to me but that may become deeply meaningful to someone else. It’s part of the reason why I remain fully committed to the inclusive practices of Working Title Playwrights, an Atlanta-based theatre company dedicated to the development of playwrights and new work.

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

A:  I would like to see more plays that challenge our basic assumptions of what we believe, and when I say “we,” I suppose I’m talking about the apparent monolith of beliefs help by those of us who practice theatre. When I first started in theatre, I was exposed to a play (by Karen Klami) that depicted the early life of Adolph Hitler, and his failures as an artist. As a person and Jew, I find nothing redeeming about Hitler, but the play, against my will, made me feel empathy for his shortcomings. This is why Amadeus is one of my favorite plays. I find myself loving Scaleri, who, on the surface, is someone I would naturally detest.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

Spalding Gray.
Gary Garrison.
Paula Vogel.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Ever since I saw the Broadway version of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Forum as an eight-year-old, I love comedies and the chance to laugh. Even so, I am most drawn to plays that can make me cry, though I am a person who is not naturally drawn to tears. Most recently, I was brought to tears by A Band’s Visit and Dear Evan Hansen.

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

A:  Love the process, the results are incidental.
Be a playwright all the time. Think dramatically.
Become a part of a community. Those who give are also those who receive.
Consider Jonathan Winters quote: “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.”

Q:  Plugs, please.

A:  I currently serve as Board President of both Working Title Playwrights (www.workingtileplaywrights.com) and the Alliance for Jewish Theatre (www.alljewishtheatre.org) and I am always eager to embrace those who want to join our communities (or who want to help underwrite our wonderful programs!!!!)

My web site is www.hankkimmel.com

I can also be found on the New Play Exchange.

I also have a law practice that focuses exclusively on mediation, and I am always willing to help those who have some kind of dispute involving divorce, landlord-tenant issues, and non-profit management   
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