2016’s Writer/Director Lab Reading Series continues on May 9th with Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill by Stephanie Del Rosso and directed by Zi Alikhan. Here’s an interview with the ever inquisitive and engaging Stephanie.
1. Briefly tell us about your Lab play.
SDR: Joni is single for the first time in five years, with only a vague recollection of what life was like before. But if she moves fast enough, if she stuffs the hole this man has left behind, then maybe she’ll figure out who she used to be—and who she is now. So it’s a play about the misguided ways we seek validation and romanticize the past, and how women construct their identities. There’s also plenty about cheese plates and sex and game shows.
2. Who – or what – have influenced your work?
SDR: I used to write fiction and I used to be a dancer, and both forms still impact my work. George Saunders and Zadie Smith feel very theatrical to me. For this play, I’m grateful to Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation and Maggie Nelson’s Bluets. I think that dance captures the present moment better than any other art. Whenever I see an Alvin Ailey or Martha Graham company performance, I feel like I’m witness to something epic and fleeting and very alive. Oh, and: Twin Peaks. That show is so, so weird and so, so earnest—probably my two favorite qualities in any piece of theater.
3. What part of the Writer/Director Lab process was the most instructive and entertaining?
SDR: The urgency of the Lab—sharing pages at each meeting, sharing parts before we have any idea of the whole—has kicked my ass in such a productive way. Ken and Jenny are master teacher-mentors. Jenny in particular has challenged me to push every scene as far as it can possibly go and to prioritize story over poetics, sometimes. Entertaining: getting to watch three writers step into the unknown with me. The shared terror of what we’re trying to do creates a really generous (and funny and lively) dynamic in the room.
4. How have your dramaturgical skills developed over the course of the past nine months?
SDR: I’m learning to embrace my mess. I think before the Lab I thought of my process as a perpetual brain dump, a series of let-me-just-get-something-on-the-page to make room for the “real” pages that will come later (hopefully). And sometimes that’s actually true. But sometimes those random pages are the “real pages,” or at least are worth interrogating. The Lab has taught me both how to be less precious and how to find value in all the patchwork pieces—however scrappy or small.
5. 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?
SDR: There are so many! I love Lascivious Something by Sheila Callaghan, The Internationalist by Anne Washburn, and Somewhere Fun by Jenny Schwartz. Those plays feel intimate and personal and also virtuosic and inventive. All three of those writers are such keen observers of human interaction—but then they take those observations and totally distort and explode them. More recently: Cute Activist by Milo Cramer and You Got Older by Clare Barron floored me. Two plays that are deeply moving and funny and true.
Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill by Stephanie Del Rosso,directed by Zi Alikhan will be read as part of the 2015/2016 Soho Rep. Writer/Director Lab on May 9th. The reading is at 7pm. Doors open at 6:45. Free and open to the publoic, first-come-first served.