I felt very excited and a little raw. It is vulnerable to write about something personal. And that piece is about violently monitoring the sexuality of girls and women. I had written that play very quickly, in my senior year of graduate school. But it came from some real people I’d met during my travels in Egypt, so it was an exciting level of potential responsibility.
You had a thriving career in regional theater, but you had far fewer productions in New York, even though you live in New York.
Most writers don’t finish their plays at all. And almost nothing I’ve written hasn’t been produced. I’ve worked with great people and been asked for incredible projects. But in this sense of the cultural conversation, New York is an amplifier. So if I’m a mission-driven person, and my mission is to amplify voices, especially those of girls and women, and I’m not being empowered myself, then I’m not doing my job. My work almost always consists of getting on a plane and living on my own in artists’ homes. This festival is the first time my own community, my friends, my writers group, my colleagues can see my work. That is very important on a personal level.
Why do you think your plays have not found a home here?
Overall, the only narrow path from the early career buzz I’ve been lucky enough to take with “Gum” to a regular New York midcareer presence is a rave in The Times. “Gum” didn’t get that rave. So my road has been longer, and further away. The feeling I got was, “We don’t know where to put you.” The stories I’m telling, which are stories that I think a lot of people want to see, are inappropriate, but not in a particularly cool way, in a way that’s emotional. I live in emotion. That is my house.
What’s it like to have two New York premieres and one world premiere at the same time?
The companies are excellent – the level of artistry, these directors. I’ve described the gist of it as having triplets. They were all in previews at exactly the same time. I called Lucy Thurber, who loved this festival of her plays on Rattlestick. She is the only person I knew who had experienced such a thing. She said, “Trust. And check with every director every day.”
What do you think unites these plays?
They are all plays about how our intimate ties meet our political moments and comply with the laws of our time, but in very radically different times and contexts. How do we become the people in the relationships we are capable of? And how does our time work with us and against us? I keep coming back to this question of how do we get the deep, deep closeness we need. Or maybe I’m the only one who needs this.