Lab alum Clare Barron’s YOU GOT OLDER recently finished its run at HERE Arts Center, produced by P73. Clare wrote the play in the 13/14 Lab. Below is an interview with Alexis Solosky from “The New York Times”. Congrats to Clare Barron and director Anne Kauffman for envisioning such a beautiful production.
Turned On by Writing and Cowboys Clare Barron Discusses Her New Play, ‘You Got Older’
The playwright and actor Clare Barron fell in love with the theater as a teenage Shakespearean: “I get to slap someone? Like, that’s so cool! I get to spit in someone’s face? That’s like even cooler!”
After a Yale degree and a couple of itinerant years — performing in Lebanon, backpacking around Syria, training in the Grotowski method in Poland — she moved to New York. “I really tried to be an actor for, like, two years,” she said. “And then my life got a lot better when I started writing.”
Though Ms. Barron, 28, still acts occasionally, she’s now better known for her heightened, hyperrealistic plays in which ordinary interactions threaten to turn extreme or absurd. “You Got Older,” a Page 73 production that begins performances at Here on Oct. 29, is about Mae (Brooke Bloom), an entertainment lawyer who moves home to help to care for her father (Reed Birney) who has “weird, mysterious cancer.” As in her earlier “Baby Screams Miracle,” the play explores questions of fate and faith and family.
In a back corner of the Brooklyn Roasting Company in Dumbo, Ms. Barron, attired rather splendidly in a bright yellow dress, teal leggings, sturdy brown boots and a cardigan dotted with blue rosettes, spoke to Alexis Soloski about strange itches and the erotic potential of cowboys. These are excerpts from the conversation:
Q. What inspired ‘You Got Older’?
A. My dad was diagnosed with cancer. I ended a relationship, and I lost a job, and a friend of mine got sick, and my dad got sick, all within the space of six weeks. It was this huge punch right in the gut. It was the only thing I could write about. At the time, I’d been writing a play about a prehistoric fish. Everyone in the prehistoric fish play kept getting cancer.
There’s a strange emphasis on bodies and fluids in your writing.
I’m obsessed particularly with female bodies — with owning up to your dirtiness and your crustiness. There’s not much that can gross me out. I also feel this deep compassion for the body. I think it’s so crazy that we’re trapped in these sacks of flesh.
Mae is compulsively worried about a lump in her neck, a rash on her back. Are you a hypochondriac?
I’m a huge hypochondriac. I do so much Googling of medical conditions. I need to stop. This year I got this creepy, mysterious itch on my palms and on the soles of my feet. It would come into the middle of the night. It was the worst itching I’ve ever, ever, ever experienced. I would get up and rub my palms on the corner of the kitchen counter trying to get relief. I went crazy trying to fix it. I finally went to an herbalist, but by that point, the itching had stopped. So I never really solved it.
Faith is a concern in many of your plays. Are you religious?
I grew up Christian. There are moments in my life where that’s hugely important to me. There are moments in my life where I totally distance myself from that. And return to it. And distance myself. And return to it.
Mae has racy cowboy fantasies. Why are cowboys such potent sex symbols?
There’s something very sexy about that kind of ruggedness and self-sufficiency, something seductive about someone who’s that unconcerned with social niceties.
Which is harder, being an actor or a playwright?
For me, it’s harder to be an actor, but there are moments of playwriting that are torturous. What’s so weird about being a writer is you’re writing in this constellation of so many people who have come before you, and also writing at the same time and being interested in similar things that other people are interested in, without really being aware of it. It’s like when everyone in 1982 names their baby Sarah or something.
How’s your dad doing now?
Great. He just wrote me an email with his thoughts on life and this play. He ended it with, “Seek the cheerful.” I felt like that’s the way to try to navigate your life in the good times and the bad. Just keep going.