Rough Approximations: A Devil Tale
nytheatre.com q&a preview by John MacDonald
October 12, 2012
What is your job on this show?
When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
Moving to the city straight out of high school and seeing the abundance of work being created here really galvanized my intent to go into theatre. It seemed to me there were many different kinds of opportunities to be had all over the spectrum. I was drawn to the ability to create new ideas without many resources and how far you could push what was possible. I found a home early on in the co-founders of the company (Tenement Street) who encouraged me to keep writing and producing. I do this kind of work as much for them as I do for me. I feel a strong obligation towards my friends and colleagues to continue to develop our collective craft and push each other artistically. It's why I went into theatre and why I'm still here.
Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
I feel like I ask myself this question on a daily basis. However, I don't really have a good answer. I vacillate between being incredibly hopeful that theatre could be a way to make a fulfilling but meager living, and unbearably disheartened that I might be digging myself a hole I won't be able to climb out of later on. But just because I question and have concerns about a life in the theatre doesn't mean I stop trying. Even at my lowest moments I find myself coming back to the scripts I have waiting on my desktop. I still find myself coming up with ideas for our next fundraiser or festival. I'm in the theatre because I can't really see myself outside of it. For better or worse.
Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
I began working on Rough Approximations because the Incubator Arts Project was such an incredible partner in producing our last show, Dust. They gave us another opportunity to produce this fall and I got straight to work coming up with ideas for what would work best, with the company we have, at their amazing venue. As a playwright I wanted to write Rough Approximations because I couldn't shake the idea of a viciously strong female protagonist who has to do battle with circumstances she can't control but must surmount anyway.
Which famous New Jerseyite would like your show the best: Snooki, Bruce Springsteen, Thomas Edison?
Snookie. I think she would really identify with the devil in the play.
Who are your heroes?
My real hero in this field is Larry Moss, the brilliant acting/scene study teacher. I began studying with him a few years ago and I credit him with forming the intellectual backbone to everything I do with my company (Tenement Street). He teaches a lot of great material in his class and is able to cut through to the core of a playwrights intention. He tells his students to always "Honor the playwright", so as a playwright, he gives us a lot of responsibility to always have meaning, structure, clarity, and passion to tell the story. Another one of my heroes is Michael Thomas who teaches creative writing at Hunter College. Similar to Larry he encourages his students to be expertly critical of the text. He won't stand for vague metaphors or sentences that simply sound nice. He wants everything to be full of intention and clarity. It's not always easy and often I fail but to have these ideas coursing through your head in the writing process is something that has benefited my work significantly.