We continue our 17th Writer/Director Lab with Kate Benson’s new play DESERT (FOR NOW), directed by Will Davis. This is the seventh installment in a series of interviews with the participants of this year’s Lab. Come and join us for the third Lab reading at Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, 107 Suffolk Street, April 24th at 3PM!
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1. Briefly tell us about the play you are directing.
I am working on Kate Benson’s new play, DESERT (FOR NOW). The piece follows three activists camped out in New Mexico protesting nuclear testing in 1963. The activists wander from camp into the desert, and the landscape starts talking to them. Suddenly the desert is filled with creatures and objects animated by the radioactive particles generated from the test site. These creatures speak from all sides of the nuclear issue, including cold war heavy hitters like Khrushchev who has become a blister beetle, Edward Teller who is the discarded skin of a rattlesnake, Doris Day who has become a rat, Oppenheimer who has become a very old giant tortoise and Henry Kissinger who is turning into a cactus. The language is rich, beautifully complex and darkly funny.
2. Who are your greatest influences?
The work of Piña Bausch is a constant influence.
3. What part of the Writer/Director Lab process was the most instructive and entertaining?
We’ve had the chance to hear the evolving drafts of these plays from start to finish a number of times. It’s a unique experience to hear that many drafts out loud, and it’s wonderful to get the chance to stay so close to the worlds of these plays as they come into being.
4. How have your dramaturgical skills developed over the course of the past nine months?
The last nine months have strengthened some of my beliefs about development which are: giving feedback honestly, directly and with as much economy as possible and responding with curiosity and heart.
5. Seventeen years on the Lab has produced some pretty great plays. Looking over them, do any stand out to you?
It’s an incredible list of writers I admire, and I feel really privileged to be a part of the Lab and a part of the 17 year history! I am excited for the plays from this year to move into the world. I think this year’s plays are highly imaginative and ambitious, and I’m proud to have supported a part of their journey.