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Requiem for Black Marie

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Sara Farrington
May 29, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Playwright/Producer.

What is your show about?
Requiem For Black Marie is a wild and darkly funny imagining of the sexual and creative politics of the Brecht Machine during the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) period in Berlin.

What do you do when you’re not working on a play?
Aside from seeing as much theater as my new baby allows, I read novels, which I think are the highest art form. I love TV a lot. I teach advanced playwriting at The College of Staten Island, which I love. I sacrifice sleep to get a couple hours of playwriting in daily, if I can, even if what I'm writing ends up nothing really. A passion of mine is fitness, I'll run, lift, do yoga, pilates, anything (also helps to stave off the prerequisite madness it takes to self-produce.) I love having awesome convos with people, that's a great passion of mine too. I love hearing about my friend's lives and stories and things they are embarrassed to talk about but tell me about anyway. I listen to a lot of podcasts like Uhh Yeah Dude and WTF with Marc Maron. I love to stay in touch with the zeitgeist. I love to subconsciously bury things in my brain so they pop up in plays later without my control.

Who is more important in the theater: the actor, the playwright, or the director?
No one's more important, but things quickly unravel without all working in harmony. Of course the theater is inherently collaborative, but more importantly than that-- there is a beauty and relief that comes from talented people doing their specifically delegated job--- what they went to school for, what they want to do on this earth. Actors acting, directors directing, designers designing, playwrights playwriting and all of us doing our personal thing together to make the play incredible. I don't really get theater where people's jobs are shaken up and switched around--- like actors being asked to write the script, etc... Get a writer who works well with people. There are so many good ones.

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?
I am so proud of Requiem for Black Marie. So much of myself and my soul and who I am as a writer and who I am as woman have gone into this show. I'm dying for people to see it. One moment (or series of connected moments) I'm most proud of in this play is the "clown" theme. In a true representation of the writing process, one woman's nightmare about a giant clown sparks the whole story, then sparks an idea for a play, then sparks a play within a play, then two of Brecht's woman actually become grotesque clowns in the play itself. These moments culminate in a final moment in the last scene when Margarete, one of Brecht's doomed girlfriends/collaborators, physically morphs from "Stupid Clown" to Margarete during a consumptive coughing fit (performed beautifully by Megan Emery Gaffney). She winds up collapsed face down on the stage, weakly but feverishly singing a song that has wound up in a Brecht play. It's chilling and twisty and turn-y and I think embodies the compulsion of theater artists to create theater at all costs.

Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?
Groucho. I love him. I love how he's super calm all the time. I love one-liners.

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
I've never been a theater artists who thinks theater is the place for societal change. Theater is not documentary. The mediums are really, really different. Theater can definitely be current and certainly examine what is happening now, but it's a slippery slope between studying the now and writing a play that sounds like a USA Today caption. As far as sparking a revolution, or coming to terms with what's in the news--- I don't know if theater is the medium to do that anymore. Or maybe I just don't like those kinds of plays. I don't know if any medium can do that anymore except maybe in the world of tech and science. But theater being separate from that I actually find hugely rewarding and liberating. The theater is the place for personal, spiritual, emotional change. It's where the truth of about myself and the world around me lies. I wouldn't presume to change society with my plays, but I strive to reflect society with them. That's what theater has always done best, I think.