FEED is happy to introduce a new interview series with participants from this year’s Writer/Director Lab. First up is JOSHUA CONKEL, writer of SPRAWL.
1) Briefly tell us about your play SPRAWL.
Sprawl is a dark comedy about a group of friends and frenemies gathering in a suburban model home for a book club meeting. Just as they begin to discuss the trendy self-help book, “Whisper to the Stars,” the earth splits open and belches forth a plague of poisonous insects. Obviously, this is only the beginning of what turns out to be a very, very bad night.
2) Who are your greatest influences in your writing?
Playwrights Nicky Silver, Charles Ludlam, Charles Busch and Christopher Durang. Filmmakers John Waters, Todd Solondz, and Pedro Almodovar. I’m also a massive fan of horror movies, comic books and underground rock music. Sprawl, specifically, was influenced Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphoses, by Stephen King’s The Mist, and by this disco video by Cerrone: http://youtu.be/V112pTo–Js
3) What part of the Writer/Director Lab process was the most instructive and entertaining?
I didn’t realize until after the reading how influenced I was by the other plays. Sprawl quickly changed from a living room play (tentatively entitled Supernature) into the large cast sprawling monster presented at my reading, largely because I totally ripped off fellow lab writer Trish Harnetiaux’s structure idea around “exploded views” and re-purposed it toward my own nefarious goals. Sorry, Trish!
4) How do you think the Lab will influence your future work?
Soho Rep inspired me to go for the boldest, biggest, most imaginative version of the play. This is good news for me, as I now feel slightly less pressure to write “realistic” plays about white people on vacation. I’ll carry that in my little heart, always and forever.