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Sleeping Rough

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Kara Manning
March 21, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Playwright.

What is your show about?
An American woman, unable to forgive her country for a grave offense, ignores the entreaties of her daughter and ex-husband and flees to London,trying to understand what sparked a fatal decision.

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
The production that compelled me take real action and apply to Columbia's graduate program in playwriting was Anne Bogart and the SITI Company's 'The Medium.' A brilliant, brave and beautiful production that made me rethink how a play could be structured and composed, almost like music with dialogue as dance.

Complete this sentence: My show is the only one opening in NYC this spring that...?
Has a bee consultant (the wonderfully talented Maria Dizzia, currently in 'Belleville,' who is a beekeeper).

Is there a particular moment in this show that you really love or look forward to? Without giving away surprises, what happens in that moment and why does it jazz you?
Music has informed much of my waking (and working life) and I wrote Sleeping Rough as if it were a composition of sorts, a river of sound. I've always found a real symmetry between albums and plays; scenes are like songs to me, actors are musicians (and we have such a truly remarkable cast — Renata Friedman, Quentin Maré and Kellie Overbey). Sam Buntrock is such an intuitive, smart and daring director and I'm truly so excited to see the evolution of his work with the tour de force design team: Jill DuBoff and Sam Kusnetz (Sound Design), Kris Stone (Scenic Design), Kaye Voyce (Costume Design) and Brian Tovar (Lighting Design). It will be an astonishing moment to see a hive of bees or Southbank Centre come to life via sound, lights, set and costumes.

Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?
Groucho: "Well, art is art, isn’t it? On the other hand, water is water, and east is east and west is west, and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce, they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now, now you tell me what you know."

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
One of the only theatre companies in New York that regularly produces plays that dare to deal with our post-9/11 mindset and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is Page 73 Productions, now celebrating its 15th anniversary. I was so knocked out by their 2007 production of Jason Grote's '1001' or Liz Jones and Asher Richelli's prescient early support of Quiara Alegría Hudes' unflinching, poetic work. I do believe that plays broaching war, politics or social movements are too often shunted aside in American theatre, deemed too risky, unpleasant or niche. But the plays that have stayed with me most vividly — and remain influences — are those very plays.