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Tony Meneses on the Lab experience: “I had to forego [my] comfort zone and write what I could and when I could.”

We continue this year’s Writer/Director Lab Reading Series on May 2nd with Clinton Hill by Tony Meneses and directed by Michael Leibenluft. Here’s an interview with Tony for a bit of context about the play he has written.

Briefly tell us about your play.

TM: Clinton Hill is a two hander that centers on a fractured reunion between a woman and the man her mother used to nanny for when they were both kids. It’s also about Lewis and Clark. If you squint real hard.

Who are your greatest influences in your writing?

TM: Thornton Wilder, Caryl Churchill, and Ibsen always make me swoon, but it’s been Virginia Woolf actually who’s been the biggest influence. Her scope, restraint, inventiveness, and heartbreaking humanity is something I could only dream of ever capturing on my own. Oh. And also Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

What part of the Writer/Director Lab process was the most instructive and entertaining?

TM: I’m not a writer that writes all over the place with drafts of stuff, much to my chagrin I’m more methodical and considered, but this year and its accountability to constantly be bringing new pages meant I had to forego that comfort zone and write what I could and when I could, and it was actually fun to jump around and see how these 2 characters behave in different rooms and not knowing how they got there. It was also a trip making [Co-Chair] Ken [Rus Schmoll] gasp with a new scene.

How have your dramaturgical skills developed over the course of the past nine months?

TM: Giving feedback to pieces of plays and not whole drafts is totally new for me, it was a delicate learning process (not saying something boneheaded to something where you don’t know where it’s going and also not being prescriptive about where you think it’s going), but in the end we all learned to give the right kind of feedback that always encouraged us to move forward but also asked us to look at what we’d done so far critically and earnestly.

The Lab has produced some pretty great plays. Looking over them, do any stand out to you and why do you pick those particular plays? 

TM: Huge fan of Josh Conkel’s Sprawl (I was at that reading it was a hell of a lot of fun). Also loved Clare Barron’s You Got Older and Jerry Lieblich’s D Debbie… and Trish Harnetiaux’s How to Get into Buildings.

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Clinton Hill will be read on May 2nd at Soho Rep. 7pm. It’s free and open to the public. The house will open at 6:45pm.

 

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