Last but not least, Ryan Dowler interviewed newbie Angela Hanks. Here's what she had to say on childhood lies, the virtues of Texas, and her various writing habits.
Ryan Dowler: When you were a child, did you ever tell an outrageous lie?
Angela Hanks: Of course, man. In sixth grade I told this chick, Anna, that I was a twin. I believe Abigail was my twin’s name. I chalk it up to a combination of that Good Ol' Middle Child Syndrome, an impressive imagination, and adolescent yearning. I am one of five. Smackest in the middle. I think I just wanted some person close to me. Since that past infraction, I've been fine with being the middle child. I love my brothers and sisters completely and wholly and have come to understand how incredibly important they are to me and me to them. I wouldn’t be this fine- ass individual without them.
RD: Where do you like to write?
AH: While I sleep with my laptop, I frequent the computer lab over at the New School. I recently obtained an MFA in Playwriting from there. I am not ashamed that I still write at the computer lab. Not ashamed at all. Sometimes my magical computer location is available. I’ve secretly cried in the computer lab because shit sometimes gets real when you’re writing plays. I have slept over at the computer lab. Seriously, I have. It’s the sense of communion, I believe, that attracts me to it. Everyone is there to get something accomplished.
RD: If you could give any book to the fifteen- year old version of yourself, what would it be?
AH: Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood by bell hooks. I had already read Carson McCuller’s The Member of the Wedding by then.
RD: I think we're the only two Youngbloods/ers/ies from Texas. Are you ready for the TEXAS POWER ROUND?
RD: Okay, here goes:
Have you ever been to Schlitterbahn Waterpark?
AH: I have!
RD: Isn't it the greatest?
AH: Fond memories, yes. While I did not last on the surfing simulation ride, I have not been dissuaded from putting “learn how to surf” on my To Do Before I Die List.
RD: Do you want to dispel any myths about Texas?
AH: I want to dispel myths in general but Texas and its people feature majorly in my work. Here’s some history for you: Texans were once called Texians for a ten- year period after the Texas Revolution which resulted in the Republic of Texas. But then the United States was all “Eff you guys you can’t be your own country, and we’re gonna start calling you Texans, and wait a minute- are you hanging out with both Mexicans and American Indians! What’s wrong with you? Put a border there. Send those Comanches along the Trail of Tears. And listen you immigrants living in the Texas Hill Country: you’re not Czech- American or German- American or Swiss- American. You’re just plain white, but please keep making your delicious, delicious beer. But Okay: assimilate and adjust”. And that’s how all of that happened. And you know what: black cowboys exist. I know this because I’ve been to the Black Cowboy Rodeo at the State Fair of Texas. And you know what else: racism kinda still exists in the United States. It’s just that it exists more openly in some places. Than others.
RD: Do you have a Texas flag shower curtain?
AH: I do not own a Texas flag shower curtain, but my Texas Driver’s License will not expire until 2012.
RD: Isn't Williamsburg just a more snooty, less diverse version of Austin?
AH: Ha! Yes. Poor, poor Willy B. Get with the Progress Program. I do know some kids who live in Willy B and they’re decent people and I wouldn’t be friends with them if they weren’t ‘cause seriously who has time for jerks?
I don't judge the old contingent of artists who sought affordable rents or anyone trying to find affordable anything but [the artist-influx needs to] maintain an awareness and respect for the folks who first lived in those “affordable” areas, and not by choice, but because financial circumstance limits them to these particular neighborhoods.. I live in Crown Heights which is awesome. It’s predominantly West Indian, but there’s a diverse, community-minded crowd developing. An incredibly dynamic mix of people. My favorite bar there is Franklin Park. One of the bartenders plays some awesome Luther Vandross jams. Because he genuinely loves Luther Vandross. And I genuinely love that.
Austin is pretty rad. It’s eclectic. And Austinites work collectively to keep it that way.
RD: Similarly, last question: How has place influenced your work?
AH: It takes many hours to drive across the state of Texas. On that drive, the entire state changes in geography. I grew up in Dallas. 90% of my plays take place in Dallas. I feel like sometimes I write about Texas to get back to Texas because I'm so far far away from Texas. And I want to be near it but I can't. Not right now, at least.