Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Alibar & Beckwith: InterBlood INTERVIEW

"NIKOLE interviews LUCY and it is beautiful"

NIKOLE
I gather that you bake a lot? is there a common thread for you between creating a cake and creating a play; internally, intentionally or intrinsically? or is it a complete deviation from your writing based creative process?

LUCY
I wish I knew a smarter-sounding thing to say, but honestly, I just really love making cake for my friends.

NIKOLE
You are currently working on a screenplay for the Sundance Lab that was based on a play of yours. What has the transition from writing for stage to writing for the screen been like for you? How has the play evolved as it emerges from it's theater cocoon into something new?

LUCY
It’s funny when you’re adapting, because it forces you to focus on the actual story, even if the events change. So it’s about a little girl in the rural south, and her dad gets sick, and that brings about the end of the world. That’s what we kept from the play, “Juicy and Delicious”, but we’ve changed the location to south Louisiana, and really taken advantage of all of the fun things you can do on film that we can’t afford to do onstage. Like helicopters! I mean!In the play, math and science start to fall apart, and that’s realized in grits raining from the sky and eggs flying through the air. Now we have melting glaciers and floods. There are still grits that rain from the sky, though. We kept that.

NIKOLE
You are from the lovely American South, I feel like your work often reflects that atmospherically, your plays also encompass a lot of magic and/or wonderment. Are these two things connected? Did you grow up in a magical place or do you make magic where ever you go? Both?

LUCY
My friend Ruben Polendo said this great idea that I hope I’m not butchering too badly— “I not so much interested in documenting what something looks like as I am showing what it feels like.” (Ruben, I really hope I didn’t screw that up). So maybe “expressionistic” is closer. A parent gets sick, and it feels like the whole universe comes unwound. Or, you know how you’ll be just smitten with someone, and you won’t say anything or give yourself away but they’ll hug you hello and all of a sudden you feel like you’re hit by this cosmic tsunami. Does that sound dirty? I mean it in the most glorious way. So what I love to make plays about are those moments that are too big for words.

NIKOLE
You have a huge shiny heart, which i think is reflected not only in your writing but your talking, standing, emailing, and general presence. What kinds of things live in your heart and how do they make their way into your work?

LUCY
Oh, Nikole, you are so sweet. Here are things I love—working with other inspiring, smart, positive artists, great music, cooking, lifts and falls, hot love stories, Christmas, sweet love stories, complicated love stories….avocados! I love avocados. And love stories.

NIKOLE
When you were a little kid, were there certain things you always pretended to be?

LUCY
June Carter and a protoceretops.

NIKOLE
What are some plays you've seen or read that have really stayed with you?

LUCY
Oh, gosh—Radiohole, and Wooster Group—really everything I’ve ever seen from them has made me so, so so excited. ERS and Young Jean Lee. Faye Driscoll. Tim Crouch and Heather Woodbury. Neal Medlyn is a genius. I love The Civilians, and Nature Theatre of Oklahoma. There’s a playwright Sibyl Kempson who is just tremendous—funny and terribly smart, and sometimes heart-breaking, and challenging, and so enlivening. I could keep going…

NIKOLE
What's your writing process like? Do you talk it out to yourself? imagine it objectively? imagine yourself as various characters?

LUCY
I’m usually quick to start working with a director, since most of it is created on my feet. I’m working with this great director Portia Krieger on “Slutty Slutty Butterslut” and “Marietta Christmas Spectacular” right now, and it’s great. She’s really sharp and clear.

NIKOLE
What are two things (big or small) that have changed your life?

LUCY
1) My dad and my brother are both bluegrass banjo sensations.
2) I went to the Experimental Theatre Wing at NYU, and Rosemary Quinn taught me so much about—not just making art, but making community. I would see how her positivity and focus made everyone do better work, so I try to bring that with me when I’m in the rehearsal room or the audience or onstage.

"LUCY interviews NIKOLE and it is also beautiful"


LUCY
Who are some artists making you excited to be working in the theatre right now?

NIKOLE
Well not to sound like a huggy Easter Bunny but, the Youngblood crew that is cookin' right now is pretty inspiring and exhilarating. I'm excited and honored to run in the same pack. Greg Moss is another playwright that makes me feel inspired and humbled to be a part of this organism right now. His plays are beautifully bizarre and often otherworldly while at the same time tunnel right into you, in a very direct and universal way. Really transportive. This is a very electric time for young playwrights; there is a lot to look up to and a lot to mess with. Maybe it always feels like that, i don't know. I just became a young playwright, so i have nothing to compare it to. Also the actors in this city are a gift. I did a reading of my first full length this past March and it felt like Christmas. My cast and director were amazing, they made me and my play feel like the prettiest girl at the dance. All the short plays I've done with YB have been so well acted that I even once jumped up and down during the show. I love to write with actors in mind, so that is especially thrilling to me. I adore collaboration. I have a very long list of friends i want to work with and there is nothing more exciting than that.

LUCY
One of your trademarks is undiluted support, encouragement, and positivity towards your fellow writers. Is that learned behaviour? Do you feel like people have encouraged you? Or that not enough people have encouraged you? Or have you just always been like that?

NIKOLE
Whoa. I'm blushing. (composes self) Well, being an artist is to be a part of a community and supporting the work around you is just as much a contribution as the work you generate. Two halves of a whole. I grew up in a very tight knit (aka small) arty community in ye olde Newburyport Massachusetts and the outpouring of support and enthusiasm from all sides has basically become the definition of "home" in my book. Artists from all mediums and sensibilities working together and showing up for each other. That's when you really feel like you're a part of something bigger than you, something amazing. That's not to say that we were always gathered in the town square with joined hands singing "Coombiah" or whatever, in fact we never did that; but we did make some really killer stuff and the relationship i have with the community as a whole and the individuals in that community has always informed my work and will continue to do so even from far away, because support like that becomes part of you. And if i can help make someone feel a sliver of that, it's as big and satisfying an accomplishment as writing the words "end of play".

(footnote: also after getting booted out of public high school I found my way into a Sudbury school and my experience there was a magical component to the arts community of my home. I consider it all to be connected.)

LUCY
What are some shows that made you want to do what you do now?

NIKOLE
The first play that ever changed my life was subUrbia by Eric Bogosian. I read it (and played Sooze) when I was eighteen (i had been working as an actor since the age of 10) and it illuminated in me the kind of energy and fire I wanted out of every theatrical experience. I am prolly one out of 453 quazillion people that had that same epiphany reading that same play at that same age. I would happily embroider the crest of that club on all my blazers.
When I was 21 I did my first Charles Busch play, I played Chicklet in PSYCHO BEACH PARTY. We laughed at every rehearsal. I loved every show. And we performed that play on and off for a year and a half I think. Something like that. I thought it was amazing to repeatedly be just as honestly entertained and invigorated as each new audience who was seeing it for the first time. (plus his book WHORES OF LOST ATLANTIS, a "fictionalized" account of making these plays with his friends in the back of some bar all the way to his first new york times review is the first book I ever cried at the end of. From joy)

When I was 22 I read all of Durang's plays back to back. I loved how involuntary my reactions were to his work. I'd be laughing and at the same time horrified at myself for laughing while also abandoning and discovering various parts of myself along the way. Then one day I was watching the news and when they announced finding someone's body in a river and I laughed, I knew I had accidentally saturated myself a little too much. But when I laughed and then was horrified at myself for laughing and then realized I was just in my studio apartment, not in a play; it was almost like theater came to me instead of me going to the theater. For two seconds. Until I was just horrified.

When I was 23 I read PTERODACTYLS by Nicky Silver. Usually when something is effecting you in a major way, you observe it after the fact. Like you don't see the tectonic plates shifting but you see the volcano they made. But I felt the plates shifting. It was like discovering a secret door in a house I had lived my whole life in. The intricate balance he creates between the two halves of bittersweet and the velocity of his writing is amazing; delicate and ferocious at the same time. He is somehow able to create this exagerated reality without sacrificing any honesty. My heart woke up reading that play.

Since moving to the city I've seen a lot of shows that have stuck with me in some way; The LAByrinth Barn Series is always a great place to go to get pumped on new theater, THE FOUR OF US at MTC last year was really exciting to me, The Wooster Group's HAMLET was killer, Adam Rapp's ESSENTIAL SELF-DEFENSE was great, it felt like a bunch of friends making this weird play together and I love that. I mean, there is a new play happening every three seconds in this city and even stuff I don't think is that great makes me excited to be doing this. Like I said, you gotta have stuff to mess with. Blah Blah Blah, I talk too much.

LUCY
How do you handle it when you’re not inspired?

NIKOLE
I do what everybody does, I Facebook. I watch "Kittens Inspired by Kittens" on youtube. Um, I try to shake it off; maybe try something else, like I draw a comic or write a letter, strum uninspired cords on my ukulele and sing "I am so not inspired". Or I say I am going to do that and then I facebook or watch the Kittens Inspired by Kittens Girl explain WWII on youtube.

LUCY
What inspires you?
NIKOLE
Things that are funny and sad. Everything bittersweet. I think Jim Henson is real inspiring.

LUCY
What is a book that everyone should read, that would bring Illumination and Great Happiness?

NIKOLE
Wow. That's a lot of pressure. I'll just list some books that have made me cry; WHORES OF LOST ATLANTIS, DRY by Augusten Buroughs, TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE, EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE.

LUCY
In ten years, how do you want your life to look?

NIKOLE
I've always wanted to adopt a one eyed goat and a three legged cow. Or vise versa. Maybe a sheep. Gather up some misfit farm animals that have been through the ringer. But not enough to have a farm farm. I'm not a farmer. And I'd have a couple dogs that run around and we'd all hang out in a heated barn. I'd write and they'd eat stuff. 35/55 min out of the city, or something like that. But that seems more like 15 years. So, i'd also have kids. In ten years? Making plays, paying a mortgage, trying new things. Basically the seeds I am planting now to have fully sprouted and made new seeds all their own. Plus a mortgage. And I'd love to have a biweekly potluck dinner going.

LUCY
What is the most valuable thing Youngblood has done for you?

NIKOLE
Community. Being a writer is loner-ville USA, I spend a stupid amount of time alone. It is invaluable to have a network of folks around you, especially folks you can feed off, work with, get inspired by, show up for and answer to. Plus it also has connected us all with a network of directors and actors and artists and all that AND I love a deadline. If deadlines were a person, I'd ask them to move in with me. YB keeps us all writing all the time. Really inhibiting the amount of time I spend dwelling in writers block or whatever. You push through it cause you have to.

2 comments:

Kate said...

I love love love you both, and as a crossover from newburyport to ETW, may I say, you each embody the spirit of what makes each place so wonderful, and I am overjoyed to see that coming together in your collaboration and friendship.
:-)

nikole said...

dear kate, your comment is so so sweet. thanks. if this blog makes me blush anymore i might become permanently rouged.

note on the playwright pictures: i gave lucy stars in the background and an alice-in-wonderland-ness because her and her work are full of awe and magic. i gave myself coffee beans in the background because my plays are meant to happen fast like a caffeinated heartbeat and if you have ever seen me without a coffee cup, it's only by accident.