We kick off our 16th Writer/Director Lab with Clare Barron’s new play YOU GOT OLDER, directed by Louisa Proske. This interview with Clare continues a series of interviews with the participants of this year’s Lab. Come and join us the reading at our theater on 46 Walker St, May 5 at 3PM!
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1. Briefly tell us about your play.
This fall my life sort of fell apart and people I love got sick. Also it felt like everyone’s parents had cancer. So the play is about that. I guess more specifically it’s about how disease changes your relationship to your body. And the crazy thoughts and fantasies that run through your head when you or someone you love is sick. There’s a cowboy and some fun stuff about rashes, if anybody’s into that.
2. Who are your greatest influences in your writing?
I’ll share a couple of early influences. The first is this show Up With People. It came to my hometown when I was a kid. I laughed, I cried, I felt like I could grow up and change the world. It made theater feel like a political, powerful act. (Never mind that from my adult perspective Up With People is pretty shady!) The second is Henry Miller. I read Quiet Days in Clichy when I was way too young. Someone gave it to me and said: This is a Great Book! I don’t think I had ever heard the word “cock” before. It took me a long time to realize that I (as a lady) was kind of left out of all those “great books”. And that realization made me want to write about my body and experiences in very frank and open ways.
3. What part of the Writer/Director Lab process was the most instructive and entertaining?
Most instructive and most entertaining go to Jenny & Ken who are so sensitive & smart about plays and are also fabulous actors who entertained as father & daughter, clockmaker, Woman and other roles. I also loved working on the director projects (where we got to stage little chunks of our plays), particularly because my partner director Louisa Proske got her hands on about 10 pounds of fake snow and made it blizzard in the Soho Rep office.
4. How have your dramaturgical skills developed over the curse of the past nine months?
Oh man. It’s been so enlightening to see how other writersmake their plays from the ground up. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a group with such diverse approaches. I remember early on Amelia saying that she had three rules for her characters (one of which is that they could never lie). I had never thought about establishing character that way and it kind of blew my mind. (My current approach is a little more along the lines of: Oh hey I just adopted a cat, check out my new play CAT ADOPTION.) Getting the chance to peek into processes so different than mine gave me all these new ideas about how to create structure, plot, movement, character, etc. (So thanks guyz!)
5. Sixteen years on the Lab has produced some pretty great plays. Looking over them, do any stand out to you? Why did you pick the ones you picked?
So many of my favorite writers! I saw a Clubbed Thumb reading of PRECIOUS LITTLE that blew my mind. I love Heidi Schreck’s CREATURE, which I also saw in my early New York days and it made me want to write. I had a teacher in college who said: You have to see Anne Washburn’s THE INTERNATIONALIST. And I didn’t get to see it. And I will never miss an Anne Washburn play again. Happy Sweet Sixteen, Soho Rep!
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Clare Barron grew up in Wenatchee, Washington. Her plays include Baby Screams Miracle (Clubbed Thumb Summerworks); Solar Plexus (Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Marathon of One-Act Plays); and a boy put this girl in a cage with a dog and the dog killed the girl (developed at The Atlantic Center for the Arts, Colt Coeur, and The Bushwick Starr). She is the 2014 P73 Playwriting Fellow. She is a member of Youngblood at EST and a recipient of an EST/Sloan grant to develop Old Four Legs – a play about a prehistoric fish. She is also an actor and has appeared in Target Margin’s Uncle Vanya and The Tempest in NYC, and Masrah Ensemble’s Arabic-English production of Mud in Beirut, Lebanon. Most recently she appeared in THE CONSULTANT (Long Wharf Theater) written by Writer/Director Lab alumna Heidi Schreck.