Jesse Cameron Alick & Emily Chadick Weiss chat it up about whose hometown/state is more hardcore, their humble beginnings as poets, and their day-jobs (which are both rather awesome, actually...):
JCA: As a kid, did you always want to be a playwright?
ECW: Definitely. I started writing plays when I was 12. I also wrote poems which my mom embarrassingly put on the Wall of Emily at my Bat Mitzvah.
JCA: In honor of the recent Hometown Brunch, did you have a playwright you loved and adored during your formative years?
ECW:All our years are formative ones I say. Some of my faves growing up were Neil Simon, Wendy Wasserstein and Richard Greenberg. Also on the musical front - Stephen Sondheim and William Finn rock. I remain admirers of all of them.
JCA: Why did you decide to become a playwright?
ECW:I picked out of a hat and that's the profession I got.
JCA:What do you do when you’re not chained to your computer writing? Don’t you have some sort of rad day job?
ECW: Currently I'm assisting the writer/director Marc Lawrence on the movie "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant. It comes out December 18 - should be good!
JCA:What’s the best day job you’ve ever had?
ECW:Assisting on the movie is pretty interesting. 15 hour days, but I get to go to New Mexico for five weeks and stay in a fancy hotel!
JCA:When you’ve got writers block, what inspires you? What gets you out of your ruts?
ECW: I haven't gotten writer's block yet, but if I did, I would read and go for a hike.
JCA: What time of the day do you usually write?
ECW: I like morning or just as the sun is setting. Night time is tough because that's when I like to do most of my socializing.
JCA: Any interesting writing rituals?
ECW: I write upside down like a bat.
JCA: Don’t you know Mandarin or something? Any plays written in Chinese in the works?
ECW: I have my first year of Mandarin under my belt - studied in Stanford and Beijing all to go see the 2008 Olympics which were AWESOME! Hen Hao!
JCA: What’s your favorite topic to tackle in your work?
ECW: I like embarrassment. And I always write about some sort of love.
JCA: I especially love your work that plays with heightened reality and reality that isn’t quite reality (ie NODDING OFF) – what appeals to you about this sort of style?
ECW: That's just what comes out. But glad you liked it!
JCA: Is it true that you're the youngest talent in YB?
ECW: Not anymore I'm afraid. I am proud to share age 24 with Ms. Anna Moench and Mr. Patrick Link. Hats off to our youngest, Ms. Eli Clark.
JCA: Who would win in a fight, RJ or Graeme?
ECW: Tie. They are Ying and Yang.
And then, Emily interviewed Jesse...
ECW: Where you from man? And what's your ancestry?
JCA: The only place MORE hardcore than you Emily - Montana! My family is actually from Grenada though, a small island in the west indies - where I actually recently got my citizenship. Now I'm just one of the millions upon millions of Montanans with West Indian Citizenship.
ECW: Have you always wanted to write?
JCA: I've always written poetry (since I was 7) but I actually wanted to be a lawyer until I was 15. I took latin classes and law classes and was captain of the debate club. I think it was the suits that attracted me the most. Somehow just wearing suits wasn't quite enough though...
ECW: What's your favorite thing in life besides writing?
JCA: Religion! I'm a big fan of studying religions, practicing them, talking to folks about them.
ECW: I hear you assist Oskar Eustis at the Public - is that cool?
JCA: Ummm - do we know if Oskar reads this blog? Just kidding! I actually love the Good Mr. Eustis. He's such a supportive warm individual. Not only his his heart in the right place, but so are his politics. He keeps me VERY busy though - like insanely busy, like text message me at 7am to midnight kind of busy - he's really the hardest working man in show biz. But he's never a jerk to me - even when he's got everyone else yelling at him. He kind of rocks. BUT I'm actually assistant to ANOTHER person also - the talented playwright Suzan-Lori Parks - who is the most lovely woman to work for EVER! She gives me advice on my love life too.
ECW: If you could have written any play, which one would it be?
JCA: Othello. Don't ask me why.
ECW: What do you not like about your writing?
JCA: I tend to philosophize...a lot. In long long paragraphs. That go on far too long. And are way too heady. Like really really heady. I sometimes bit off more than I can chew...but I keep on knawing anyway...
ECW: What do you think happens after we die?
JCA: "Our souls are unwoven and used to continue the weaving of the tapestry we call life. All memories, pleasure and pain, are like ink on a rainy day..."
ECW: Who are your favorite writers?
JCA: If we're talking playwrights: Suzan-Lori Parks, Tony Kushner, Caryl Churchill
If we're talking novelists: My dad and James Baldwin
If we're talking poets: Mari Evans and Rumi
ECW: What's up with your awesome scorpio belts?
JCA: I'm a scorpio and I'm all about keeping big things very close to my crotch. Hmm. That came out wrong. Or did it?
ECW:What's your advice to people who want to be playwrights?
JCA: QUIT NOW. muahaha. Sorry, kidding. Good question - I would advise anyone who wants to be a playwright to become a student of human nature. Listen to people. Hang out with a diverse population - people you love, people you hate, people you agree with, people you don't. Everything will pour into you and make you a better writer.
ECW: What's the one question you wish I asked you?
JCA: I wished you had asked me "Would you like to go on a date?" - but I keep on suggesting and you keep on shooting me down, so I suppose I should just settle for seeing you every Wednesday at Youngblood meetings!