Talking to 13P, part 2
ROB: So … anyway …this [13P] could be their place to experiment.
ANDY: So are there any thematic or stylistic connections between the playwrights or is it just people that you ran across that you think were interesting and by 2010 we will have seen this interesting body of work.
MADELEINE: Its more like that.
ROB: Yeah, its more like that.
MADELEINE: I mean there are some … you can look down the list of writers and see there are more people that work more often downtown than uptown. Not that there is, actually, anyone that works often uptown. There are people who know each other from whatever school they went to or from other programs, stuff like that. But it isnt true that there is a uniting aesthetic
ROB: Theres definitely not a uniting aesthetic. Theres a lot of diversity. I feel like we everyone is part of an exciting generation of writers that are sort of … you know we had as teachers Mac Wellmann, Paula Vogel, Erik Ehn, Chuck Mee …and I think that the unifying thing is that were all involved in a re-embracing of language. Probably in response to the 80s, director-oriented theater, and taking that to some new place: adding back in elements of theatricality and mixing that up in a new kind of way. Thats kind of vague.
ANDY and MADELEINE: No! Thats pretty specific.
ROB: There is some naturalism
ANDY: Im looking at this and it seems that a healthy dose of these people came out of Mac Wellmans program in Brooklyn.
ROB: Youve got some Mac people and some Paula people …
MADELEINE: And theres a little NYU contingent.
MADELEINE: Its so gross. Sometimes it makes me sad. Like, I met a playwright that I long admired at a show the other night and within two seconds we were saying “Did you go to Brown?,” “No, I went to NYU,” “Oh!” “Did you got to…?”
MADELEINE: Its like everybodys carved from this one giant pie.
ANDY: Well it is frustrating. But at the same time it can give a lot of insight into the nature of the work.
MADELEINE: Thats the other sad part. I would like to think that its not true but I think it is true in some parts.
ANDY: So the first show is Anne Washburns The Internationalist. Why did you start with Anne?
ROB: Well she wanted to go first.
ANDY: She was ready?
ROB: Actually, we picked our slots by secret ballot and it worked out really well. There were no big fights or anything. Although I think Erin [Erin Courtney] and Young Jean almost came to blows over who was going to be last.
MADELEINE: The coveted 13th slot! Erin had a good argument which was that her kids had to grow before she could be ready.
ROB: Yeah, she just had a kid.
MADELEINE: But Anne wanted to be first.
ROB: And by that time well probably be running The Lyceum or something.
ANDY: More power to you!
ROB: So, The Internationalist is going to be at 45 Bleecker, downstairs. And are all the shows going to be at the same place or is that to be determined?
ROB: Well, even more central to the whole project than avoiding development is the idea of letting the playwright have as many of their little fantasies as we can possibly afford, saying to them, “So, where do you see this play taking place?” Well try and get that produced, directed, etc. I think another inspiration that Maria, whos producing, talks about a lot is En Garde Arts. When we were in college we thought it was just the coolest thing ever, which of course it was.
ANDY: Because why?
ROB: Well, because not only did they not get locked into the disadvantages of having a permanent home, but they also took things into places that nobody else would ever think of doing something because of the challenges involved. I remember going to see Paul Zimet doing Krapps Last Tape in – what do they call that? That thing in the pillars in the Brooklyn Bridge where you go inside?
ANDY: The Anchorage?
ROB: The Anchorage! I think it was in the Anchorage and you had to wear masks because it hadnt been cleaned up then. They were only seating like, 19 people, and that was terrific.It wasnt a secret though, but …
ANDY: But it felt secret.
ROB: Yeah, it felt secret.
ANDY: And thats good.
ROB: I would love to do something like that.
MADELEINE: But if somebody else was like, “No, no, no – it has to run at the Harold Clurman on 42nd St.” Then thats also okay. If one of the other thirteen really wants a proscenium stage, thats okay.
ANDY: I know that youre not doing development but are the projects supposed to be event-specific or are they supposed to have a life after theyve been presented?
ROB: Oh, I dont know. I guess it goes on a case by case basis.
MADELEINE: Yeah, I mean, we didnt …. Youre not talking about a commercial run are you?
ANDY: Im just talking in general …
MADELEINE: I dont think we could even get our minds around that at this point.But I dont think its supposed to be like, never-to-be-repeated, ephemeral events.
ANDY: Theyre meant to be a part of peoples ongoing body of work. Okay. So – how do you work as a collective? Does that mean you bring your play and everyone tells you what they think of it?
ROB: No, not at all. Part of the mission idea was that the playwright – when its their turn – theyre the artistic director. So whatever Anne wanted to do during her slot was up to her. She only had to deal with me saying, “We cant afford that.” Which didnt actually come up in this case. And thats pretty much it. So the others are just supposed to offer support and eventually it will be their turn.
MADELEINE: Yeah thats exactly right.
ROB: There is definitely no decision making by group. No one wanted to get involved in that.
MADELEINE: Everyones so not into the whole communal thing…it has such a short shelf life.
ANDY: The communal process?
ROB: The whole collectivity aspect has to do with everyone supporting this idea.
MADELEINE: There is only one Utopian element to this which is that were going to do thirteen plays. All the other elements are sort of fascist and all about ruthless efficiency.
ANDY: Ruthless efficiency is always a good thing
ROB: Oh! Were offering people that come to see the show a Blind Optimism Package.
ANDY: Blind Optimism Package?
ROB: Yeah. If you buy your ticket now to all thirteen plays – at 15 dollars a pop – you can bring a friend to all thirteen plays for free.
ANDY: Why 13? That just occurred to me.
ROB: We had a hard time deciding on a name and “thirteen playwrights” seemed very neutral. And then we shortened it.
MADELEINE: which I always contend sounds like the price of a British chocolate.
by Anne Washburn
April 17 – May 8
Thu-Sat at 8pm, Sun at 7pm
+ Sat May 1 & 8 at 2pm
+ special opening night performance Monday, April 19 at 8pm
45 Bleeker Theater: 45 Below
(between Lafayette and Bowery)
Reservations 212-868-4444 or www.smarttix.com