Light Me Up: An Interview with Lucy Alibar
I got a chance to catch up with Beasts of the Southern Wild screenwriter and playwright Lucy Alibar to pick her brain about Throw Me one the Burnpile and Light Me Up, her new piece at Under The Radar.
RW: So tell me a little bit about your time at Sundance this December.
LA: It was cool. It was me, 600 highway men and Leigh Silverman had this Yiddish Cuban Opera that was just a riot. It was really, really fun. Everybody is so nice there.
RW: How does the Sundance process work?
LA: This was invited. So they invite sort of big…I don’t want to say hard to manage plays but plays that don’t fit in one box particularly. So they invite these three projects up and they put us at this really nice hotel with this weird cat..but it looks like The Shining– like The Shining hotel- and everybody’s really nice and you’re not in New York. You can’t get out. You can get the New York Times but you can’t really interact with the outside world the same way.
RW: And you were working on Throw Me on the Burnpile and Light Me Up. Can you tell us a bit about that?
LA: When Beasts was screening… in those talkbacks people would come up to me and they didn’t have questions, they would just come up to me and start talking to me about their experiences with parenthood; either with their own kids or their own father. And in a similar vein of why I love 600 Highway Men’s work or the Civilians’ work, it was people who are not necessarily in my world sharing these very personal, very specific things with me.
And so I was getting a lot of these dad stories, a lot of these parenting stories that were so deeply felt and so emotional and I started writing these first person…I wouldn’t even call it memories. I just started writing about my dad and like the way I talked when I was nine and I started writing about when my dad and I would always run together. And this burn pile that my dad had that became this gargantuan force in the field and was always really present and he’d always talk about how we’d throw him on it when he died and have a big funeral pyre. And it never felt- when I talk to people about it now they’re like that’s horrifying. But it never felt like that. It was just like- that’s the burnpile we’re gonna put dad on when he dies.
RW: Was it a joke?
LA: It wasn’t a joke. It was so normalized. He meant it. He means everything.
So it’s about this fictionalized girl and her dad and a burnpile and her friends at school. But I think it hits on- I don’t know specifically what other people would say about it yet- but to me the key to it is the storytelling. It’s important to me that it feel like what I like to do which is just hear a story from friends.
RW: And you’re performing in it?
LA: Yea, I’m gonna be doing it. I’ve found especially in projects like this it’s good to have vague ideas of the future of it. There are actresses that I know in New York that are from this world, not necessarily my specific region, but that are from the south and get this in some way. But just right now to develop it I have to use myself in it.
RW: Who are you looking forward to seeing in Under the Radar?
James Monaco and Jerome Ellis! I’ve heard a little bit of Jerome’s music and it’s beautiful. There’s something really exciting to me about them artistically. It’s the same feeling I get about Debate Society and with 600 Highwaymen. They’re really compelled to make new work and they’re very humble. They’re very much about making the work.
Catch Throw Me on the Burnpile and Light Me Up January 9th at 5:30pm or 10pm.