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1100 Playwright Interviews

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Jan 10, 2022

I Interview Playwrights Part 1107: Sharon Yablon

Sharon Yablon

Hometown: Los Angeles

Current Town: Los Angeles

Q: Tell me about “A Garden of Terrible Blooms.”

A:  “A Garden of Terrible Blooms” started out as a collaboration with my neighbor, who is a very talented sound designer and musician. We had worked together before, with him providing live music to my plays. I have been at this awhile and realized I had many short ones, all set in different parts of L.A., which is a very spread out city, and that most take place at night, or night that is encroaching. With the anxiety of the pandemic, and my own onset of middle age, I started to imagine a sort of metaphysical or supernatural radio where, if you were experiencing insomnia and tuned in in the middle of the night, you might hear these voices seeking to talk to you. I also love sound, and music, and the actors’ spoken words, and wanted to whittle the experience down to just the hearing sense and explore what that would be like.

Q: What else are you working on now?

A:  I have a longer play set in the San Fernando Valley that I am in the process of finishing and hope to produce, and more to continue working on after that.

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

A:  I would love for more people to be exposed to it.

Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Some favorite playwrights include Wallace Shawn, David Mamet, Edward Albee, Harold Pinter. My favorite play is A Delicate Balance, and there are many underappreciated ones that I love, such as Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean by Ed Graczyk and What Happened Was by Tom Noonan. I would love to see Mark Rylance perform. I also enjoy the work of Caryl Churchill, Annie Baker, Sheila Callaghan, Greek Tragedies and, of course, Shakespeare, but not really the comedies. There are many musicals that I love as well.

Q: What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Language that has some poetry or rhythm and that is specific to the theater and not film/television. Hearing a writer’s unique voice. Work that has some mystery, or what I call “terror” onstage. I love silence and pauses onstage too. Noh Theater is wonderful.

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

A:  Don’t worry about ‘writing what you know.’ We know more than we think, although it may need to be mined from the unconscious. Try directing your own work. Don’t focus too much on plot, it will come, and there are all kinds of plots and structures that one can do onstage. It’s okay to not know where you’re going right away, it will come. Not every play has to be about social justice, or what the cultural norm is. Learn to cut and be relentless about trimming the ‘fat’ from your work so the good stuff will pop. If something you’re writing doesn’t excite you, you may not be connected to it, so don’t force it; it’s okay to not finish everything. Enjoy the process, don’t worry too much about the outcome (fame, productions) because most of us will not get this. That said, if producing entities aren’t responding to your work, put it up yourself! Find your people (they are out there!), which includes actors who are excited to be in your work, and a writer’s group that can critique and whose works you admire, so it keeps you on your toes with your own writing. Plays absolutely must have an audience, and I’m not talking about readings, but productions.

Q: Plugs, please:

A:You can listen to “A Garden of Terrible Blooms for free” at www.terribleblooms.net, or where you get your podcasts. The first ten plays are already available, and the newest one, “Dear Marie,” will be released on Valentines Day. 

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