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1100 Playwright Interviews

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Feb 4, 2022

I Interview Playwrights Part 1109: Talene Monahon

Talene Monahon

Hometown:  Belmont, MA.

Current Town:  Brooklyn, NY.

Q:  Tell me about Jane Anger:

A:  I call it a Jacobean feminist revenge farce. I wrote it early on in the pandemic when everything was fully shut down and I had returned home to Massachusetts to nanny my sister’s children. I think the play is very much the product of full-on pandemic brain—both in that it is literally set during a plague outbreak and in that it is generally insane. At the time, I was reading Jacobean revenge tragedies and watching a lot of Monty Python. I became strangely interested in merging the genres and centering women a little more than is usually done in either. I don’t want to give too much away. The play is about some real people and also some people I’ve made up. There’s a lot of true history in there and also a flagrant disregard for historical fact. There’s a bit about a sticky pudding that is truly disgusting.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I have a play called The Good John Proctor about the girls from The Crucible that is in development and will be presented as part of Bedlam Theater Company’s Spring Reading Series. I’m also working on a piece that traces the Armenian American community’s relationship to whiteness over the course of the twentieth century, starting right after the genocide and leading up the Kardashians.

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 a child, I made up a ghost story about a slaughtered cat who haunted the electrical shack a little way down the street. I told this story to my friends in an attempt to be spooky and interesting. Unfortunately, as the weeks went on, I grew to believe the story that I had fabricated from my brain. I became very frightened of the electrical shack and worried that the bloody cat ghost would snatch me as I walked past it. I dealt with this fear for years. I guess this set me up for a life in the theater because I love to believe my own lies.

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

A:  Accessibility, baby! There are a lot of things that need to change in order to make theater more accessible—both to artists and audiences.  Maybe I should have gone big and said capitalism.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

Annie Baker.
Jackie Sibblies Drury.
Anna Deavere Smith.
Liza Birkenmeier.
Michael Friedman.
Anton Chekhov!

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I love plays that are rousing and mysterious. I like feeling like the audience I’m a part of has become a cute little cult. I’m very happy watching theater that doesn’t have an easy explanation—like, how did she sing that high note? Or, what was that weird noise? Or, what was the playwright’s overall message? We have no idea! I love to see it.

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

A:  Find smart collaborators whom you trust and then embrace it when they have the better idea. My work has always grown stronger through collaboration.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  The Lamentable Comedie of Jane Anger, That Cunning Woman. And Also of Willy Shakefpeare and his Peasant Companion Francis, Yes and Also of Anne Hathaway (also a Woman) Who Tried Very Hard starts performances February 21st at the New Ohio. Tickets and more info here:


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