Five Questions with Derek Ahonen

Derek Ahonen (photo by James Kautz)

Derek Ahonen (photo by James Kautz)

Name:  Derek Ahonen
Title/Occupation:  Playwright
Organization/Company:  The Amoralists

1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?

I grew up just outside of Chicago and I moved here to become someone important at 18.

2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?

Anything Cassavetes.  He’s my hero.  I’m actually watching Husbands right now.  He had no interest in plot.  He dedicated his career to going after emotional truth.  He suceeded.  No one else can touch him.  Maybe Noel Coward, but my boy Noel only dealt with the truths of rich people so I gotta dock him a few points in the human department.

3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?

Athletic ability.  Probably football talent.  When you’re an athlete you represent a city and all of that city’s dreams.  All you have to do is score more points than the opposing city’s misrepresentation.  It’s beautiful in it’s simplicity.  In art if I were to assign rivals there would be no way to score victories and my enemies are the people who could help me the most.

4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.

I work at a comedy club and get a playwrighting check once a year from the royalites on my published plays.  But I’m working on changing all that.  I just wrote a hack pilot that I plan on selling for millions of dollars so I can move back to Chicago and buy the kids who used to beat me up drinks.  Maybe I’ll beat them up and buy the cops off.

5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?

Never had to choose yet, but I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to tell someone to go fuck themselves.  I’m not relevant enough yet.  I think it might come soon, but it’ll probably be the guys I started my theatre company with and not some big-nosed (fill in your own racist stereotype) suit with a penchant for compartmentalizing art and money.


Derek Ahonen is a playwright and director of The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side. He is also one of the co-founders of The Amoralists.

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