WE INVITE OUR DIE-HARD COLUMN READERS*
TO SEND THEIR BURNING QUESTIONS TO RESIDENT PLAYWRIGHT PETER SINN NACHTRIEB. FOR SOME REASON, HE RESPONDS.
I received my M.F.A. in Ceramics and now I’d like to write my first full-length play. Do you have any advice for people who are transitioning from one art form to another? I know the world is my clay, but beyond that, I am lost. Please advise.
I totally get where you’re coming from. I know if I had worked for years to get an M.F.A. in Ceramics, I’d never want to touch a piece of clay again either. I applaud your impulsiveness and indecisiveness in what you hope to do with your life. Ceramics? Ick!
Are you in your 20’s? I’m only curious about your age because when you’re in your 20’s, indecisiveness seems like a uniquely 20something kind of feeling. “I’m young! I’m confused!” It’s cute. But then, as you get older, your indecisiveness and doubt that you’re doing the right thing will never actually go away. Lack of clarity turns out to be a condition you’ll be afflicted with your entire life. Of course, with every year you age, you’ll start to carry the weight of choices made after which there is no going back. Like having children, or smoking, or committing a felony. But none of those anchors will actually have any impact on the future difficulty of making any new decisions and whether you are happy or not. You’re cursed! We are all cursed.
Also, maybe look into taking a class, and then, later, teaching.
Okay, so here’s my idea. Hear me out. It’s like a group of millennials and there’s an apocalypse. Think fire and tornadoes and fog and lightning. And they all have cell phones but the technology just isn’t enough, ya know? They have to learn to fight with their fists and bodies, like back to the basics. Man versus nature. But I guess my question is, if I want to write a play that has a lot of special effects like fire (and maybe the whole thing takes place underwater?) do you think it will still be produced? Should I make it simpler? Maybe they are just trapped in a book store?
I love your idea! I think it’s important to know, though, that regardless of whether or not you choose to have some great special effects or set your play somewhere more dull, it will probably not get produced. Most theaters in America are completely uninterested in modern times and your generation, despite all the lip service they may try to give with their “under 30 pricing” (to their revival of The Cherry Orchard). So, I say yes to fire! Yes wind! Water it up! You might as well go big! Cause you’re probably also going home.
I am stuck. So many sleepless nights. I cannot put pen to paper until I determine, once and for all, whether it should be theatre or theater. Who am I? What industry is this? Am I in a building? Am I an American? All of the political pressure makes me sweaty.
*Readers currently fabricated by Rose Oser, but I suppose you could send real questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will consider them.