ML: In group you seem to be known for a solid presence but having little to say. Care to comment on your taciturnicity, Patrick? Patrick?
PL: HA. I think if I'm quiet it's a combination of being naturally shy and also the fact that I'm still learning how to discuss work in ways that are specific and meaningful. I have a huge respect for people who can give eloquent feedback that is passionate and smart, and I've learned a lot from listening. It's an area I hope I get better in as I develop.
PL: What were you like when you first joined YB?
ML: I joined Youngblood in 2005, so this is my fourth season. Starting out, my niche was definitely the baby of the group which meant being wide-eyed and acting out and feeling like a precocious kid who lucked into a sweet deal. But now I'm one of the senior members. Which means feeling more responsible and caring more about the course Youngblood takes and feeling like a wizened old man who lucked into a sweet deal.
ML: How do you feel your writing style fits into the group dynamics? What is the most useful way for other writers to approach and critique your work?
PL: I've been playing a lot with stillness lately. In my last full-length, HAIRDRESSER, the main image is an older woman sitting and getting her hair done and feeling the pleasure of fingers running through her hair. KNOT THEORY has two guys delayed at an airport who barely move, and my last brunch piece had a bailed out CEO watching his reflection in his office window. I think these plays are active, but the action is very subtle. Spare dialogue. Time passing. Characters taking breaths between things.
I think this is more of a phase than my signature style. I'd like to widen my dramatic lens. Lately I've been wanting to write a big, badass, high-seas adventure or something epic set in another time period. Something with lots of movement. Con Air or something. That might be fun. I'd like to write with more sweeping zest. I'd like to see if I can't do the opposite of what I've been doing. In terms of writers approaching and critiquing my work, I'm not sure I require anything unique. I want to know the same things everyone wants to know. I find almost anything useful.
PL: Where did Neckface [a graffiti artist in Mike's play, STOCKTON] come from? Did you do a lot of research for him? Do you normally? Have you ever tagged?
ML: Neckface is a real tagger and I started noticing his work all over the place when I first got to New York and had a sublet in Williamsburg. It stuck with me. Then, when I was writing STOCKTON and doing research on the city I discovered that both Kara Walker (another artist whose work has stuck with me) both grew up in the city and it felt like a fated pairing. That here was this celebrated vandal and this celebrated visual artist both spawned from the same shit town. I haven't tagged. Yet.
ML: What's the dumbest thing you've ever done?
PL: I once got my finger stuck in a large spool of thread and had to have a maintenance man saw it of me. It was on for hours. This was like...5 years ago.
PL: Your job at New Dramatists sounds pretty sweet. Any not so sweet jobs before that? What's the worst job you've had?
ML: I've been at New Dramatists for 4 years now and am on my way out because you can't apply for membership there while you're on staff. It's been a great time. The only real jobs I had before that were freelance writing jobs, internships, and assistant directing gigs. None of them were really "the worst job ever," but the status of internships and A.D. jobs can be so lowly that it gets old. Like I AD'ed for the drama dept and had to haul a bunch of heavy bags back to their office on opening night just before first performance. On the way to the office I was sweating it out hoofing it in my suit thinking, "What does hauling these bags have to do with the 4 weeks of assistant directing I just did? Am I an artist, or an intern, or am I a coolie?"
ML: Patrick, let's wrap this up with a bit of a lightning round. Favorite medieval weapon?
ML: If you went on a vision quest, and you saw an animal that would be your spirit guide, what animal do you think you would see?
PL: An owl.
PL: Inside your heart there is a small wooden box. Inside that box is a toy from your childhood. What is that toy?
ML: Mum-Ra action figure from Thundercats. Not the one where he's a raging force of evil but the one where he's an enfeebled mummy. Not available in stores. Only available if you clip 5 proofs of purchase from other action figures and send in for it. It came in a small, nondescript cardboard box. It now lives in a small wooden box in my heart.
ML: Which condiment can you most justifiably call "the condiment of seduction?"
PL: Some say ranch. I say honey mustard.
PL: If your life were a video game, how would the character of Lew fight off the bad guys?
ML: Close, melee attacks. Feral backbiting, claws, and cheap headbutts.
ML: What difficult word are you most likely to drop casually into a conversation, hoping it makes you look smarter but secretly fretting you don't know what it means? What do you think that word means?
PL: I use the word 'mercantile' very loosely. When I say something is mercantile, I really just mean 'lame'
PL: Last question: what's the fastest, simplest way to make Mike Lew happy?
ML: Perfect timing.