« WTF with Marc Maron Podcast

Episode 710 - Stephen Karam / Josh Brener

2016-05-26 | 🔗
Playwright Stephen Karam received his first Tony nomination about an hour before sitting down with Marc to talk about his experiences in the New York theater community, the way he writes himself into all of his characters, and the shock of having his play The Humans on Broadway next to Phantom of the Opera. Plus, Marc's old "assistant" Josh Brener stops by to talk about his new movie Welcome to Happiness and the new season of Silicon Valley.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
All right. Let's do this, how are you what the fuckers, what the fuck buddies, what the fuck em ears, what the fuck's murders nicely What nice to see you nice to talk to you! Welcome How are you everything? Ok, you're right there, you strapped in, are being careful Are you looking? Both ways are you are you hiding with your headphones on. Are you trying to pretend your listening to music, hey, hey hey housework. What's going on, I mark This is my show. It's it's a pod cast. I talk to people got a couple of people on today, pretty exciting.
Gao, interesting show. What I'm gonna do in a few minutes is I'm to talk too mild sidekick, Josh brenner, who played Kyle in seasons, one two and three of marin. He was my assistant Nay also know him as big head on silicon valley and he's in a movie he's in is its. Ruby, coming out called welcome to happiness. Would nick our remaining keegan Michael key I'll talk to you, The brenner and a little bit also be talking to the play right, steed karen author of the humans, which I saw off broadway but is now on broadway tremendous play as part of a series of playwrights. I seem to be having on a maybe it's, not a series there's more coming yeah but day, it's been interesting. For me, Go to theater, I enjoy it. It's a it's. A lively and relevant art form that we need engage in the humans? Is a great play are going to
talk to him in new york in a hotel room. So that's what I'm trying to tell you, Josh brenner and stephen carom on the show to day I do want to get some. Business out of the way personal business about my dates. Coming up, the trip anyhow shows have been spectacular here in lawson, joy at the steve, Alan theater. I want to thank everyone for com down there are several shows Coming up in gotta, deputy of pod dot com, swash tour, albeit at sea. down theatre on made thirty first june, seventh june, fourteenth june twenty first in june? Twenty eight, these are tuesdays there. I think an eight hour ticket all proceeds, go to the theatre, on July, seventh, eighth and ninth. I will be at these who can comedy club in washington. Why do a full right man, that's one, two three four five shows and enjoy fourteen fifteenth and its. I will be at wise guys insult city utah,
doing they real club work and then twenty eight, twenty, nine and thirty it I will be at the comedy. Attic in blooming in indiana, doing the club work and then august, eighteen, nineteen and twenty, albeit stand up live. I've in phoenix arizona due in the club work and then september: ninth tenth be at tat the comedy club in russia to new york in four for god's sake, ex. By the end of that run, I should avenue. We have a new, our Out of necessity so I dont lose my fucking mind so yeah I mean come to any of those shows. I hope enjoying maranon I've see which airs wednesdays. At nine p. I think the fourth episode last night moving out of the rehab situation, and into life, and then we did. This is phase two of season for of marin
It was very fun these we working sally, kellerman and challenging an exciting working with the with the Michael learner, who are who I am a fan of, despite the fact that their he a very challenging individual, and I will I still love em. And am we pulled it episode together out of what was a pretty chaotic view day? if shooting my friends, enjoy that you know, like I don't want to complain about bullshit, but yeah. I guess it's only relative to you. You know what your life is. Like. Obviously, people have bigger problems, this, but, as I have told you before, I went through it most became a narrative by just fuckin detached from it. I got this new office space very happy with to do my work to process things to write and go through books, him birds and ladders and shit that are sent to me and have meat down there and
eighty in tee, they are a day. I have a cell tower, I'm on top of the building that my offices in right above my my office, no? This going in I've set this up before now, you're here, The deal you're corporation, people, have their own problems of corporations. Corporations should not be treated as individuals corporations get away with murder literally. I hope that what talking about right now is not going to put me on an eighteen t hit list, but the reality of trying to conduct business with in a fuckin self tower and have a functioning. Area through this work. I realize it's a trade issue, but an obsessive idiot, and I see injustice in me dane things you, god forbid. I up. I appeal to my might my sense of injustice to bigger broader issues and get out there and do some campaigning or some actual selfless grass
roots lobbying for the candidate of my choice, but now I'm going to shake my fist at the great myths, logical god, eighty in tee, who is a very real god in the sense that they control Deal the communications for people in this world their ability to text send dick pigs and a avoid calls from their parents. occasionally email, WI, fi, not benevolent just their competing the other cell phone and phone companies wifi as well? so not knowing that I was. operating within a fucking cell tower, I was unable to use my stereo this horrendous buzz. Now, who knows just by talking about this, perhaps work I'll. Tell you this. If I have an aneurysm or some sort of psychotic break, they focused a laser
twisted my fuckin brain and the fact of the matter is they don't even need to do that because they ve sent? eyes over. We ve turn things off. We ve we pinpointed that the buzz is directly related to the fact that I'm working inside a cell tower some shit off the buzz went away, so it is completely relative to eighty and tease equipment on my roof. So every time I go to my office, dual worked out and, like maybe it's gone, I turn on now not gone, and yesterday not only was it not gone, it was fucking worse in its ever been, and I'm like, to get the office, not because I am a in baby, who wants to play a role, just because I'm obsessive- and can it be able to let it go, because I think what corporations want you to do is just admit feed move on whether its with a product, whether its with anything, just there just play in the arts. You know they ve got. You have five. Stop people out of a hundred fuck em nets with anything
of one or two people, get the bad parachutes or that shitty service or or hurt themselves badly in accident. Can we fitted into our bottom line kara this shit, just move on business as usual and shut that guy up, and you know I wish you I could get over it, but I can't because excessive and I want to enjoy my work space, and wanna worked away? I want to work. I have the free, to do that. No one's gonna tell me to shut the fuck up in just forget about the music. I tried to tell myself that, like he's really that important, you know what a kind is a kind of is better. but as as I assumed it's going to be some sort of very pathetic david and goliath story where, where day
it doesn't when he just kind of goes. I guess I'll just take my rocks and go to some other space. You know they just want dislike, live, with it it just in, and I think so many of us do that on so many levels is like that, as is the way it is thought that a minor a split vote. Turn their shit off? It's fucking my head up: they don't even death Put the zap on my brain. They ve already done it just by not fixing it because Eminem I'm an obsessive eighty, it so it through in it, and it annoys me that my brain works like that really does my guest right now is a guy I worked with. I did great comedy with. I have a lot of respect for is a funny kid and josh brunners in a new film, welcome to happiness that you
see in theatres now, and video on demand can also see him as big head on the H B. Show silicon valley. So this is me and my old buddy Josh brenner, I the hard feelings she may in our feelings. I know we did what we could. We tried a try it's jan this last season. There's just no way. Can it tell you something. You are too essential to a silicon valley. To essential I mean. Not only is my character not essential, I my eyes. A human am also did honest honestly, my way like two months ago, my wife was like. What's what's wrong with you, we're like you like by and you're like moment around gonna I and she's like I know what it is do and mary I swear it. She said she ass. They said that they had to striking a text you this string, a p come up and being like dude and I'd feel
oh you are so I can only make what now marin. Is my favorite show on tv honestly like people? It was like baby universe just like rubbing it in my failure. you know you are always very good and I I had to just keep with you and our signal on rare and what gimme a break eyelids. Always solidarity for were all you are new. Anything while you were doing was writing directing executive right is saying, but I want to act everything you want amorous. Yet no one sees that shit. How they see is, I got marin's. Oil stiff was stiff, gimme a break. Well, let me, but why is there I just told there's a minute governments. Are you again right this season? It's like its humble, like that's him. Lifting your angling, it's fuckin, it's really good Thank you really get. I think ice. I stepped up to the plate and good Slam home rank, he very much sports and we're doing a good job yourself. On the silicon valley, I watched one episode last night. I just happened to be like full of you. That's rare yeah
he really have a friend who tax me after every episode, I'm not an and says best episode. Yet of the season, everything on good, Rent is often how your parents are they, the level people who came to see how, my god, that Bela they love you ice like I talked them once a week on Chavez. It's like how markdale my cousin I haven't seen marks like they're. Like do you know he was so nice to us and I was like yeah cause. I know because we've talked about it a lot of times now they love you they're good people. Yeah I mean. Yet the bat and your dear you're still vegetarian yet way. How did you not time is adam thing? I m would desire thing which I worked with fever. for years? You I didn't know is so in your face about it. I try to you know vegetarians, there's no subtlety to that. Even when you're not trying to be also expected that yeah there's a slight to superior
the thing that happens is that you, you guys all disclaim that don't know you know. That is true. I am. I am one hundred per cent superior to everyone who eats meat. That is a fact. That is a fact about me. Is that I'm better than people who eat meat right yet so viewless me and you eat meat about why dad I'm, not, I'm not sure I disagree its, but it's you know it's it's wherever you want to live your life. If you don't know the joy of a good burger nets, yet no, I do I do it, because I wasn't always vegetarian, and that makes me it's more special sure, is that I remember the fight. I remember it and I still say you know what I don't need that, because I'm such a good person, okay, alright, so what was it was it? Was it the animal screaming thing I mean, It was every I I grew up kosher. I was I was raised in a kosher house, so you know that's got nothing to vienna vegetarian. That's just weird! Well the yeah! What well this is this.
utensils business. That's a cutting boards is the fun thing about my as is now the cushions, so we had to set the utensils, we're dairy and where the meat, but we also have a set of trace silverware for one had light leaned out china, he's in that kind of thing. A really. So we were, you knows, leg, very or very conservative, and unless you know somebody I do have some likes me. sour check and right that work at my brother did that do not particularly religious but kept kosher. Yet it's a weird it's something about tradition and discipline. And ah I guess it's a godliness at. Times, even when you're being ungodly, like you're assuming the gods. Attention. If you use the trade sailor, they like right? Well, they're not using the the deigned or utensils. That's great you! we're, showing where showing a sign of respect. You know right now is poorly no one's perfect. The chavez goy. The shop is going well you know, so I don't have to turn on the lights, which are right. If bought a ring in a shop, is goi and say and say it's dark in here. It's dark sure would be nice if the lights were on and then that's code
not going to turn it on you know, I'm a good jew. That job is coy yeah and then you go. Oh god did you see that no no respect I can't believe I know I just ran up the light. He doesn't know any batteries, just a guy you're that job as a no. No, no, no because your yes, I realize you're that that jewish pretty do that sweetie you to say I'm in a look at my face where your taxes do texas jew. I have now been project motherfuckers yeah. I met a it's. Ok, it's ok but there's a here's. The thing that was an interesting value that in the end and surprising that I didn't completely? Resent you right out of working with me. if a day you know you you, your harvard guy yeah, guy. You know what you know: the gay people, people don't like that no but see but see you, don't you don't you don't the same high ground with Where did you do with the vegetables? Can't
because we ve already assume it You is something we can all process and we kind of get it, but harvard is very exclusive and you play that you're not going to shake yeah you're, not going to shake the terribleness of like I can make a joke about how being a vegetarian as a superpower, by whatever you do at harvard at the edges can occur if tat terrible. But you didn't study acting right there, you can't you can't really right, because that wouldn't be serious right of study acting. english right yeah, I studied english and then but they under the english program, you could take acting classes. Variety, american, repertory theater, which is on the street radical yeah right across the way, our t, a r t yeah. So I took classes there and did plays there and all that. So really that's where you started today: RT doing a like student,
izzard you get into some bigger ones. I was never in like they're like real deal reactions, but they would do cool stuff where, like you know, the staff from the a r t like the and there's also a graduate m f a program. They're they're teaching classes, and they also like, would do a visiting director project. So I was like in plays directed by like the real deal, people from a rt, which was amazing yeah. It was really cool. like who this guy Marcus stern, was awesome and then, like Robert Woodruff toddy class. Oh yeah while the guys who wrote like basically wrote practical aesthetics like wrote the book on, like sort of like mad, acting a hawk out ziegler. He he taught stuff, you know so, like you know, you got some real experience yet, as we know, I got an extra correct, your kind of thing yet did you get credit for those classes, yeah the Department was man. They will do fast and loose yeah it light on the brown in the english department. You can do whatever the fuck he wanted, so you get to go to harvard for english and then you're like you know. You know that acting is your thing right.
yeah. I mean I did like play writing and stuff to son. I wanted to do something you got someplace. Oh, that's a general! That's a jew! so I did play writing. Another guy have plays zero poyser. You did you finish what I've I've play by one era, creative bases, its- I mean for thesis, yet a creative. These were not, I mean like if you were like wanted to say you wrote a thesis, but you didn't want to do all the work. You write a creative thesis in you run a player, a screen tired. You know something really get, but that's not the same as a thesis I mean I say just a yeah. I guess it was still a thesis but like they call it a crime, if the thesis so people know like. Oh, you didn't really do anything. You just thought there was no research involved like typing with one hand, while you pleasure, ah so, but it still counts as the thesis yeah and as an undergrad, you have to do a thesis. You have to know you. Can it's an opt in system more, What is a gardener you? Why do it? If you don't have to see? That's it,
issuing harvard another schools is like you didn't have to do that. Yet you did and it's a great quote? I actually like? I just pause to be like what is the answer to that question, and then I was like. Oh, I guess, like everyone else is the answer to that. There's just like yeah there's this like on bridal. Ambition and the desire to like be like our way. I don't have that am I am I screwed up right. I better do it d. I should do something so that other people also think that ambitious do you feel like you got a well rounded education is that's a criticism these days that it so hyper competitive and so business driven and net, so I sort of them yet expecting job placement and your hyper ambitious people that the broad based sure of the liberal arts? Education is lost? I drank a lot. Is that guide? But did you go out in the spirit of being like some areas simple hero of some kind, no, just because it seems
Ok, yeah, I got you, did you go out and mingle with the working class? No ok, so no everything there saying is true: heaven that no do not many steps, it down from the ivory tower to talk to the central squared away. I won t start. I didn't go near the hong kong, a god damn it middle east without the Middle east yeah. The hong kong is literally in harvard square. You can tell, I still didn't you didn't: go, have a scorpion bowl with the hong kong, oh downs, yeah, I went downstairs. I didn't go up there's where you know how many interesting things happening right. They downstairs comedy on your animals whose I was called the comedy studio that was off limits. Member I lit, I literally never went and then well yeah, and then I moved out here and, like all these emerson guys were like. Oh, you must like spend all your time at the, and I was like no, happening that that seems really cool. you moved out here right after undergrad, with with with a creative thesis under your valve answer,
ideas. Yan people, just you know, started thrown paychecks at me Where did you get your first break, where your usi be at all, or did you did audition? I did. I did use the bebo, I was. I just wasn't that good at it. I still like marvel at the I mean I I loved it. I had so much fun doing it, but- and you know I was like on teams that did shows. I met my wife doing that stuff, but yeah Couldn't I couldn't for the life of me figure out. How do I get on a house? Team are right and I still like those guys. The like ought to me are like the those other like you, always talk about act like an awkward exact, we're watching that can provide rights like the he's, a maestro how'd, you get the first act and its how'd. You get an aging three c b. no nepotism, really maya. I moved out I was gonna move to new york and youth and try to do theater. I was always what I thought I would do it here. brother. My older brother mark lived marked with a sea lived was living
I've been out here for a while and he's like. Don't move to new york. Dummy like you know, come on year, and then he just had this great big group afraid then all of them doing different stuff, and two of them happened to to be agents, and I was like what do I do and they're like go to class and they're like Okay. Now, what do I do and they're like? Oh, like go to go on this audition and then they're like whoa, that went pretty bad, go to more class and they sort of they cannot, they sent me out. They held my Annie. I they held my hand a little bit, which classes did you do? I did see beyond the growing so to be improved thing, and then I got involved in this place called stand, curse studios which is sort of in off span of the leslie con. Mega star thing and you spend at the time there and I actually taught and coached there for a little while after I sort of like learned the thing, a little bell, the super old are thirty one, that's good
shit I yeah and I what are you tutored and a bartender than I did. I did all the things you because it sounds to me with europe with europe sort of sense, activity and you're you're sort of neurosis. The roses, but you're you're you're pretty grounded dude, but, like it sound like you, it was cause you could you. You could ended up a teacher yeah Yeah, like you know what I mean like you're, one of those dudes that, like you know, you liked the process and you know and you're pretty good with people that, like it sounded like is because I did that's one of the the past there, but for you go I monarchy here. Thanks for the job, you could always go back to that. Just know that that you can always tell- and I have one foot are you kidding me any minute? All all of this is gone mrs surreal, but like bit like I mean I just want to say this is crazy.
Like this is a right of passage. Obviously, now this is real, but also like my image of the garage is like the fake from this show the agreeing in here I'm like, unlike others, an interesting set. It sort of remind me of what a real garages put like that like us. Well, that's all come over here once maybe maybe I can bomb confusing memories in my view, is Oliver invitingly allowed in the now? No That's not it decide at some point. I got that. Maybe I came up here, but it was in my memories are confused as well, so the big head character just seems too b, you not like turning some things off that you turned on euro doing correct when you're doing when you're playing kyle your rightful on and then when a big head, you're right then scan turns cattle now is down. That's really engine yeah. It's
we are literally on opposite ends of the spectrum of where I can exit right right, right, yeah, you're, just shut down and detached- and you know you you you owned, as in shift is much for, whereas you, when you were Kyle you're, just sort of like all over the place. I think that it's just you bring it out and get on its ryan already and humming so the silicon valley did. You do to be not allowed to do my show I pray. My question differ. How many empty gases episodes. Are you in the season The I dont know, sixers. Maybe six are oh, that's, ok, maybe really didn't have time. I put, I believe so this now this movie welcome nap, welcome. Have now you did. You know you ve done a couple movies, one where was bit o here we promoted and no one site called yet
I believe you are referring to the intern. She had the internet where you can choose what the internet, which is the exact same movie, did better now. I think they parted pretty bad. The internship, there's a lot of post, Josh, brenner images around town, oh man, yeah, you couldn't yeah. This is like the first season of and I'm like, I guess, he's going to be okay, I guess coyote panned out for kyle yeah and then now you know yeah. How many you do after that, just like in a most summers. All do like at a tiny, india or or two you know I I try to do stuff that won't come out and, as a general rule, I'd watch why I tried their networks in open gets a real good cause, I think you're, smart man, my my parents figuring out. I have seen for the first time there like joshua we're just gonna go.
through the channel guide, one by one together just stay on the phone. I too had a hard time finding it because I want to watch in real time this citizen- that's like thirteen hundred than to give these guy just, but I've got such good stuff on it. I'll betcha, it's crazy! That's a great like every like! I was. You know what I want to show and unlike watching promos and like you know- they may not have memory now, look like portland ia and were landing reviewers, india, it's great. Yet, who knows that? I listened to, It's out, I've detached from that the season is by the way. Like I mean, I'm a job I'm a joint now than ever, because I hate I hate watching myself on tv. So this season is like a middle bravery, fresh air, but also its like. You guys are doing so different yang. You we're I'm excited about you ain't. You you're, making like cool smart yard, to watch independent films, are also funny and sweet. I think I love it man. I appreciate that it's so cool, so tell me about this movie or because I didn't have time to watch it, and I don't even think I got the right movie. Oh perfect, everybody's doing a great job
It's called. It's called we're gonna happiness, and it's a this first time director Oliver Thompson receive come from. What is he's had agree he's a detroit. Oh, we added detroit sports guy hollow and he's a musician and he's a visual artists than is just like a like I'd, never I've never met a guy. Who, like just knows all You know, like he's, also like one of these. It can sort of like talk about everything like music art, every everything, everything and like he just had this vision and ripped it's his script and he directed at you have developed it with the one of the stars in the movie called gardener, and you know all it was just sort of this like group of people that I think just wanted to get together and be like hey. Let's make a movie, what's it about it's about, it's sort of this magical. Realism thing! It's I mean it's really. out, you know, dealing with trauma and loss and passed out things that have happened in your life, that you can't change nea and it's sort of like what, if could change them and there's this element, and you know what who placed a magic person
it a doorway or a ring, a fella. It's a doorway, its that's amazing that you just hit it. I was tryin Come up with some joke about a latin in the lamp and you just what you now you just got it right is it's a doorway. It's a doorway command! zander advice and another inductive you walk in denmark. Man to size is that the whole frickin peg get somewhere. We can fix to pass you gotta, he's gonna, be some portal, then some way of entering is actually very sweet. And and in others great people in it and nick offerman in it it's good people. Brennan sexton, is And maybe I'm using Michael keys, I, like him, gaze the man how Brennan sexton the I know that guy he's frick in may It is really good. I like this guy Ella. We When saw my wife- and I just one- saw the movie that a little opening night thing I was in we left in, and she goes man that brendan wow here and is it yeah anything else and she's like a mean he's just like you watch him and he's just like you
on the journey with them: ok, cool and like what like the rest, the movie was yeah really get performance, What about me? I love you too. You wanna tell me is he said? Why didn't I just let my face do the what about meaning. I know this guy kyle, well he's been told you yeah, I told you, you know who he was yeah. No, it's like it's like a really awesome cast and and, like I said, Oliver agit brewster's in it she's good, yes and she's awesome in it, everybody's awesome in a big cast, the cast yeah a lot of storylines and what it's going to open. Where everywhere it's in, In town here at the very heart of hollywood at the wheel, emily- and it's like your places, you know, but you have fine, just google Emily level movie, that's correct, and it's good. That's where those reflection was wrong. Are you supposed to get at the landlady level movie? Let me try it again. Yeah! That's good note, though when we were moving, ria, perfect I'll, get us a great take print out one circle: it begs thanks.
stop him by body. This is so nice of you. I can't believe it's good to see Thanks man, not only is accurate, a talented actor, a decent guy. That does not always happen in show business he's a good man that Josh brenner, like tat guy so. This is very exciting. I. When I was in new york, I saw a lot of theatre you, listen to the show, no, that I see theatre lately I've been encouraged and given the opportunity and taken care of which I don't mind, but damn stephen care was play. The human is now on broadway, the Helen haste theatre, its nominated for six tony awards, including best play now this was a very
intimate, very interesting, very real feeling play about a family. It I'll takes place over the course of basically one thanks Having dinner, where young couple has the young, the women's pay, it's over and her sister and it sounds, are very simple and it feels very simple, but its very haunting very deep and a emotional and very funny and I really enjoyed going to see theater and I'd like to make time to do more of that kind of stuff. Just more stuff. You and I e. We all know what this stuff we're supposed to do is, and that is supposed to be found, but sometimes is the idea of getting their makes it all tricky but tat. I did go see the humans, and I did have stephen carom, come to my hotel room in. city the last eyes there? We, very nice conversation as I recall, so this is me and a playwright, Stephen Karam,
the I think we need to open by congratulating you on your tony nomination. Thank you Why saying that just happened yet, just half an hour ago like an margo yeah. So what were the phone calls? Raleigh? Scott rudin? Oh my god, we deserve it. We knew it. Scott did that was amazing, agents. My I just talked to my parents. Are you did yeah? They were watching. You know it's also silly, but my parents were watching. I guess it was on CBS, you know, being you know, my generation I was live streaming it from the website, but they were watching, I guess charlie rose and that cps mornings, yeah yeah sure, and so my mom was most excited that there was like a passing comment that overheard from Charlie. having seen the play or something that affects nice, when we just talked about how that's it, that's nice,
latterly rows. Of course they do. I was just there yesterday. Have you done it? I'm actually doing it. later this afternoon, the our great with the cast with Jane and read very plain: the parents in the latter parents in humans and german tallow. Who, who directed at sir you'll, tell us overall right yeah, like he's like the guy guy. I think it's him. I mean it's a modern miracle that a play like this is even has made it to broadway. Do no nine sought it when I see that no matter what are these? Are you sought off broadway at the round about their companies so that that's a very intimate space and in the end the set itself is very intimate in in in kind of compartment eyes, specifically its big and small. At the same time, its level sat right but yeah, it's it's. Your classic new york do apartment, which means so that belgium, ITALY, not very bia grotto ground floor man right. One window are very familiar to me of her family maybe I mean That'S- that's pretty much slight
adjusted version of my apartment. I lived in for six years, we're in new york in you, just sit there and like this is good for new york, this great eyes only five thousand. dollars. What's so funny is, is will it actually I? It was a good price. I was splitting it with someone else and I and like the apartment in the play it both they had their own entrances like they are both floors. Yet so it was the perfect roommate apartment because we each had our own bathroom two nights ago, but now everyone seeing the play thinks you know like this is a terrible apartment and I was so happy in that apartment. I couldn't believe that I could turn around. I had a I. This is my first queen size bed looked like you had a kitchen it. Have a catch, india and one that hadn't been renovated in about twenty twenty five years, but well, that's always a trick in new york is like is
the kitchen or is it just a nook where there's a stove and no room to do nothing? I've exclusively had nooks yeah to today, and you can't cook that that's why new york year is restaurants are like always popular and always have people eating at him, even the worst ones, because no one looks at their kitchen in new york city and goes like I'm going to cook in there like it's gotta, be a real you gotta be sick or something to even make anything a chore. But how does when, when you at what? Well? Let's start the beginning, then see rid of you? You wrote a few plays before this before the humans. I did yeah but looks a couple of them own college college. Can I mean I've been writing. I wrote replacing college that I would probably not want to own necessarily maybe like the one that you did, but but yes, In writing. I mean I was even rang like sketches and things as a comedy sketches as Kaden. Skull, really started at the the the craving guarantee compulsion right dialogue,
I didn't know that it was. I wasn't pursuing writing as a profession then, but I just you know I was going in Scranton. There wasn't a lock on written and I haven't. Even I don't have no point of reference for that other than the sign will terrain renault script. So Scranton it was the home of of the american version of the office yeah Joe Biden lot of politicians have connections, so that's usually how people know it isn't that the the sign you see when you're taking the train in Scranton, the the the industry or something or the city, the electric city, and you know, but that, as you know, steam town that it's all of it's ties are to. You know industry, and you know trains and in There are no longer necessarily in rye service, so you know, my around out little rested at little rusted out the heaps of the what he called the the coal
the lad over the sure piles of clad that the big piles of black of colder than when they are member pennsylvania's. If you have, if drove cross country at some point, you like holy shit holy, doesn't it Yeah yeah people are always like. I have a friend in pittsburgh. They realize pittsburgh to Scranton is about you know, maybe eight hours or something so, why were you there? What would you regard to say about your mother? Why grew up a? Why was I in pennsylvania? Well, that's where I was born and raised when you Y know, but why were your parents in pennsylvania? What oh you mean, what how did they end up there? Yeah where they were born men. My dad said of families really fascinating, it's it's! So I'm half lebanese half irish, my dad's dad my grandfather, was born in lebanon. came here when he was about twenty five died, speaking only broken english might, I was seventeen, but my dad's one of ten, while he's nine of ten, so the you know my oldest uncle,
is passed away recently. He sort of like the godfather of the laying round of like my grandfather. You know he was born in lebanon. To so it's it almost feels like it's. One of those families were via my aunts and uncles. There's like multiple generations, even in one the day the unit because there ten of them right. So the age gap is pretty in a big and your growing up in this sort of they came here because of the Maronite appear She knew there was a lebanese american community merrier in YAP it sort of the the lebanese version of roman catholicism. I know that exactly spelled like my name marinate, it actually is yet people take pictures of those churches. Sometimes he said unto me and go like you'd have a following. Let me know if you ever get ST anne's I met and Scranton I don't know. I don't know if I took a picture that when, where did I see one, maybe dinner or has a population of a lot of, but you,
I've been in line with this side of the family that was exotic by american standards. I would say like at least with the with customs and traditions in Jeanne you're, going to church and near the our fathers and aromatic and there's this, but at the same time, what's funny about scranton as I maybe it's, because I was part of such a close in a family didn't feel here, as I got older, I started to feel maybe a little aware of how maybe uncool it felt. You know when you coming age where you're like. Oh maybe this is weird that you know that the parish that I belong to and the customs and everything but Scranton is also kind of just a hotchpotch of so many different
definitely ethnicities and churches everywhere that meet some in some ways I felt I felt weirder being like a gig head than I did being a maronite the christian ahead. I guess one trumps, each other, like a there, there's a certain level of tolerance for ethnicity differences, but there can be a blanket intolerance for for gayness, yeah and grand so weird, because it's like two, it's so close to new york, city, radio, two and a half hour that as mega. Yet it was just it was like the the especially the time like I just missed the cut. there is no again straight alliance and there's no life before everything started. Sort of a little yeah, just just kind just that without wave and it's it's just, you know, there's no amtrak to get into new york city. So so people are threatened really don't take advantage of. This the long island, don't buddy? Okay, so that's good to know. I thought that was a scranton. Oh! No! No! No! You! You go out on the island they're like nah. We don't go to manhattan because I use it when I got
to do shows on long island like aren't they just going to come to my new york city shown there now they're, totally separate audience kind of yeah. What business was your dad and my dad? Are you ready for this? He was the high school principal of my public school of the public school I attended, so he was a history teacher turned vice principal and for the last fifteen twenty years of his career, he was a principle. He was the principle of my high school with your dad and a big public school. Two sets of rough gig yeah It was it was. It wasn't no use werden if you know, what's funny, kids to say stuff. Do you like, like your dad, just gave me the tent like slimy along her ear, so is laudable. like that I was actually ever answering for thee, the sins of your father. It's and you can't really say anything to it. So I can't I just kept my head down and
There was older than me issues for years, older area three of us here, and she was a cooler than I was. So I think she in some ways, probably paved the way she was a senior when I was a freshman, and so there is a kind of I think. Maybe enough people knew her that people- left me alone, the idea, but that, but that is a strange experience. So when you started, did you start doing theatre in high school? I did tat, I I didn't always get cast in the shows, but I was the piano production of the music man I did. I was at the co sound chair for our production of count dracula see your theater gay. I was a theater guy also did even dirtier than being a theater guy did speech and debate
Aha, are you aware of what that is? I I know about it, and I it's one of those things where, whenever I talked to somebody who had experience with a speech and debate that I'd like to know the the tactics of it is different, I think, you'd actually be really good at it. I feel like people who can do stand up to me. I mean the bravery that takes two to stand. A comedy, especially, I feel like you're, the politically, poised for success yeah, but everything becomes very personal to me as soon as I feel that I'm losing the argument it it becomes like you know, fuck you you're stupid. I think that would make you a really exciting wacken douglas surveyed or actually we did a play called speech and debate about about. I did one of my first yeah about about highschool kids about high school kids, struggling with things struggling with
with issues and things I thought was a comedy, but when were you when were you like comfortably gay, I mean did that happen in high school? I mean where were you one of those sort of like hiding in the theater department kind of like not quite out people? I was. I was pretty much one of those one hiding in the depart the theater department, but I also was one of those weirdos who I was sort of just a sexual. Before I came, I wasn't. I didn't, have this trail of girlfriends yeah right right, yeah. I did not break a lot of heart. Ok, so you know I was the kid that was taking his best female friends to all of the dances in the prompt writing just felt like a slew of pictures of me with my best girlfriends ran and then yeah. I came out to one close friend in college. I was like eighteen and then I came came to my family and pretty, everyone later. When I was twenty or twenty one how they handle it,
shockingly well actually, and I think part of it was because my parents really did know me. Yes, I did my friends or and again little mysterious when you make it to twenty one without with coming out about a lot of sexual conquests or even like a crush on this up here? So I dont think I was. I don't think I wish India also sung like a miss saigon song when I was fourteen and a challenger, so I feel like I was paving the way they all from very early on. Finally, they were like finally yeah we can all relax. I feel like in college. That was the reaction in strangely from Scranton No, you do realise that, because you know my parents didn't have a friend are there was no real visibility a community gay community that a lot of people did just think that I was a stray katy was into musical the OECD thing. Songs, theatre department, your high school. Exactly and I found it there wasn't a dangerous
It was indeed always nicely. Everyone felt well supported, of course, you know how I can be a weirdo self india? And so when did you start, though? The writing. When did that feel like you said he started, highschool writing sketches. But what inspired you to do that? I mean just other stuff them, We laugh, I mean I actually remember just loving a lot of even I did discover, plays in high school and I'd seen little shop of horrors when I was in first grade. My sister was in a production at north scranton intermediate cool, so I was vaguely aware that there was this thing called the air, but really it was even I mean. I remember writing sketches after watching shit.
Rotarian will Farrell right do stuff that just really made me laugh on Saturday night live and fooling around in my basement, with my friend kim and writing sketches for class day and stuff, but in terms of like you know, we read the crucible in high school and I kind of started to get jazzed as to like just what was out there. So I started reading a lot eyes and then I started imitating a lot of the every rider that would come along. I have had a blow my mind. I would sort of do the classic. You rightly them for harrassing imitation. We of yeah that's part of speech in debate right, don't they do a version of the crucible or to actually one of the girls. She writes a pop musical version of the crucible, From the perspective of very war in one of the the girls who What a bolder scan,
the boy right she's, so your per year exercising your demons of style exactly, but they the thing them fascinates me about theatre in the thing. like you, as somebody who is relatively sophisticated and understands, you know why theatre should be important and wondering whether or not it is as important as it was or what ever really is that I finally realized they were yesterday is that your new york is theatre in a lot of ways
and that your, whether anybody goes to see the theater or not. If a play becomes successful, it has a resonance throughout the culture. It may take time and it may take different forms, but it starts a dialogue. You know a lot of different other forms. I think that's right yeah, but but it seems to me that that people, like you and Annie and lynn yeah, that there's a generation of people that is, you know whether intentionally or not, you're making theater accessible to a generation of people that may have not necessarily dismissed it, but not thought it was part of their lives. Yeah I mean, I think part of every generation is you know, writers are trying. Put things on stage that that means something to them or the kind of place that that they want to see so good. I guess what I think we do. You know. I don't think it's a conscious choice of trying to be too necessarily like bring it bring a new wave of theatre to a generation as well.
Just you know where we're out in our lives, and you are the generation and if you can get them to come great and exactly, and they seem to becoming and all you can do is put em. It's probably where your you stand up comes from. Two is just it's like. You can only talk about this. What's that's on your mind and thriving you up at night? He asked and hope that that maybe other people are thinking about those things too, want unfortunate, nat eat. You know emotionally somewhat stunted and yet I met a fifty two year old man twice divorce with no kids in a fairly infantile emotional structure, so like, fortunately, for me that when my successor actually started happening in my late forties that I was in it is appealing to forty five year old did. I was fifteen year olds who were having emotional problems? Is the cotonou de there is, there is a huge
okay! Well, I'm on a I'm on human beings with emotional problems. This yeah. I think it's also why theater exists signal spectrum, it's a big spectrum but yeah. So when did you, but even the decision that you know it seems to me that you know when you talk about for whatever reason you were you're interested in theater in high school, or you found a sort of community in that that, as it became more sophisticated as you get older, they have that community as a different depth to it and at different intensity to it. But you still felt that this was a world that you know your creativity could could thrive in that you wanted to live in If so, when did you know that it was such a slow process? I mean the truth. Is I I you know, I come from a family where there are no artists or people making their living as an artist right, so I
it was not only it wasn't like I graduated from college and thought I become a playwright where it was really just I've so drawn the theatre that I kept doing it in college. I kept writing I graduated at acting or origin writing. I did acting college, but the college's where I started acting less and and writing more when we see a lot of stage fright, so it was actually near. It was, is clear. me that I was not going to have a career as an actor at its good that you get up there see, could understand what it feels like to be up there as it as a director and as a writer hands down. It's it's made me to this day. I think it's. The best right or training I've had was was just having been in a lot of players. right even completely amateurish. You know, dieter just its, I think it's the best prepared I'm I'm astonished item. A writer says that they haven't been on that side because I think it instantly makes you
a better writer when you know what it is to have to make sense of someone else's words. Then take the risks that are necessary and take those risks. Yeah you you just have a better understanding not only of what you're asking of actors, but it just it. You ve just warn the er hat yeah, yeah yeah, just yeah, so when you were in college, I imagine that you know outside of what you experienced in high school and seeing musicals or being in musicals and and doing you know that level of theatre that or even seeing a version of the or you know what what's the word. I want the uplay dynamic, truly sure you know like a big play. There must have been a moment where you saw something in a real theater production that that made you go like we fuck that the power of that is is very specific in this interesting? I it was not. There wasn't a lightning flash moment like that. Only because I remove
for being obsessed with the glass menagerie cause. We had read it and I had seen her production. It's grand public, theater yeah, but those moments of like feelings of electricity really came from reading a lot of plays which I know is, is weird. I have a heart, but my first, my first theater experiences, professional theater experiences where, where the Scranton high school or different clubs wouldn't get on the bus to see a a big broadway, physical, so my first show was phantom at the opera, or so it wasn't that those exe Science is where an amazing for me, they worry was just. I didn't work out a phantom of the opera being like. I've got a write another some of you have got to create something. Is gotta create a heroin is as poland, steam, dyer threats,
so so it was. It was really like a slow burn in terms of of discovering, like at the drama bookshop like my mom would take me in and we get I'd have you know x, amount of dollars to buy these acting additions that were really cheap and so a lot of the the first kind of thrill of what theater could be was like reading. You know a play like angels in america as opposed to you see the being like fifteen and and having seen let's interesting, but the first kind of resonating experience was deceived. The words yeah- and this is my first professional product we're like fifteen years into the runs of these mega musicals, so it was like you know. People were like dinner, essentially like out to lunch during the assault with one production of miss saigon. It was a matinee and you could tell the poor actors were just like done. They were just done. They were like we have to do this again at eight o'clock. This is likely to go back to
Human city, it's just the whole like I'm, going to fall again later tonight. Here we go there yet, but there is something funny about that that element of theatre like you I guess I went. I went to see hamilton last night and then I went back stage. and they are just what I know what's going on, and why can't you guys? Ok, like those hard me. That's all you need to sit out. Forget it. But you since other kind of wired like I feel like post, show even when you're doing like even if you're doing long day's journey into night right, yeah there's a kind of a it's hard to sleep. how ya know, even after a big comedy performance, you're kind of your loop, you disagreement. Oh yeah, yeah yeah. I guess that kind of thing, but you mention like
his journey into night, like you know, cause I, after watching the humans and after thinking about it and after seeing your louise, horace and pete, which I think you are for all practical purposes is, is theater that it seems that the the the line between tragedy and comedy in contemporary theater, which, with my experience of it, is it basically you and annie- is that in some ways which is very contemporary you're both you know europe for appeal. Whatever you just got nominated for a tony for best play them you, this is real shit here so, but when you think about long day's journey into night, I think about those generational familial. Your tragedies that are are are, purely you know, you're going into darkness in in a way that you may not recover from well what structure yeah I mean I didn't. I did not approach this play from that
I know that's what's so interesting is I thought I was writing a psychological thriller or a pure genre kind of I, but I don't think it is a tragedy in the same way or even can be categorized like that. That's why I'm sort of curious about your transcending these forms that there is area you have between your very specifically comedy and very specifically dark between dark and light. Yet that, but doesn't doesn't sort of you move towards death. Yeah I mean it. It does metaphorically on some level, like anything, does sure but yet you at the end of the humans. You know they're a measure of hope, there's a measure of hope, and it is a moment of grace and it is literal darkness. You know what I mean and you don't really know what it means, but it can suggest a lot of things, but you know no one's going down for the count but I ends with a moment of grace. I mean right,
as I imagine that when you do a family drama like that year, that this sort of spectre of o neill, as is always sort of their rights in a way sure and of all the great american family place. There. But that's why I feel lucky that, but I don't think I would have start. I don't think I would have written it if I was thinking if I was approaching the play. Thinking of that kind planet. You know what I mean out again: I'd or wood what it says you have to watch your mind of law his journey right death of a salesman arthur miller earlier, declassed menagerie right raising. the sun yea it goes on and off here you can, you can sort of chart and interesting line of you know, but as well the next, but as you evolve through your first few, your publish plays. I have to assume that there is a learning curve there for you. Oh huge
Still, as I still feel like, I've been, I finished the humans and its You want to disown your password bright, but you know goes its I want a being a young writer yeah from speech in debate. Two sons of the profit to the humans is such a huge learning curve, and so it's it's kind of like looking at school, pictures yeah you and we have had a lot of it'll, be yours who don't want to you, don't want to mess with them. It's like! Let let you don't want to like take the braces off of the photo or the bad haircut. It's just a tool, it's a reflection of who you were and at the time which is actually in some ways, kind of makes them perfect in their imperfections. You know if you, if I went back to try to fix my older place, I think damage them in some in some way, even more in I, in my turn, to fix them right, excess. Yet have you seen different productions of your older place?
I may have loreen a few productions of them, but I also try to support them from afar with love, and you know sometimes I feel like. I am a bit of a control freak, so I like to either be totally involves, meaning, let me be involved in casting and do you see talk with being level. The talk with the designers have relationship at the director and, if I can have that part of me is just you know, happy to know that the show is gonna open in detroit in this production, and I can wish I can wish it well from from afar rights, not because I think they are going to court on court mess it up. It's just and it's your hand it's out of your hands, and so in some ways I feel like the experience that other people would have watching. It is the right experience and mine would be so warped by you now My experience of two showing up on opening night would be like. Why did they
yeah and what have you for hostile shouldn't be yeah he's over what's happened. Why is she crying so much and all the things you can do when you're actually involved in a rehearsal process, so that it's interesting as a writer? Do you do you think that somebody can discover things within your work that you might not have seen and yeah? I think that's why I'm a player. There's nothing more exhilarating than than you know I mean than when somebody that somebody years from now can take your work and reinvent it or that even like a high school kids, amateur productions confined
a spark or alive for an angle or something about it that you know based on the the timing of when they do it and who those human beings are that are bringing to life and putting on those roles. I mean there's nothing like that that you know it exists as literature, but really it can be. It can be rediscovered again and again and again yeah. So you went to brown I went to brown hair was our experience. That's why he leaves a sort of groovy ivy league school right here. was where no one from my high school had ever gone there, and so it wasn't. Even I was so I was crazy, anxious to out of scranton, and so I was just that kid that was ready to had not go see the world coal piles were a little bit. So I had like you know. No one had even read my application. I researched all the schools that I wanted to you know, and but people weren't, even you know, no one. No one thought it was like a good.
That I was going around. They thought it was like a two year like vcr repair. You know programmer some It was basically like what even is brown brown then I went around and you know there are all these people who were surprised. I hadn't heard of their high schools, which I thought was fastened. It was a whole like cultural education. The armies like preschool, whereas the outgoing been are like him forget the names of it, but you know, the the school in in d c o my remit had gone to where you know he was in school with, like the president's device, Al Gore's shreds india we have more. Like you don't know about. You know the score. The school and and I thought it was so weird that people with any one would be expected and no of someone's high school. What there's a whole? We, like my buddy sam, the same website, he's a novelist. It he's got kids and you can start thinking about that
shit when they go to kindergarten right now we need to bring you gotta public school, it's and it's never even I thought of it. I can of course, you're gonna get you gotta, you gotta elementary school, that's near you The public scrutiny got energy, goodies grander me, it's going, you go to high school sick, what it and then you go. You know you come to new york and it's a whole. Have people are moving and pangs six. Forty, fifty thousand dollars a year for four elements: religion, you know just wrangling, and so for me, college was both brown was incredible and its sort of where I feel like I came into my own, but I also I feel like I was just doing a lot of growing up. I was a type a you know, good student, but I also- and I was a little scared of my creative side, so it was kind of great to be in a place that it was really he really easy access to, you know even like mounting your own production student run, theater and kids, I'm talking like kids from the you know, computer science department we're doing
peter everybody was kind of it did have a really kind of exciting artistic vibe wasting ays MSNBC Chris We were doing theatre together at brown and and and lend to and would know lindeman while was at wesleyan cause. I know him in a crate went to high school, which is it's word how Chris haze plays into this weird kind of young theatre were prisoners, is changing the face of american right, yet very curious to me that, like I think he really wants to you like, I think them he might do it eventually he was he was agreed director. I remember him. He directed astute written musical in high school. He even then he had a kind of he had. What I took to be a good director like everybody trusted him. The outcry, personnel any very sympathetic, sort completely empathetic ashes what you need royal, so
I actually hoping tat would bumpy amazing. If you actually did come back to this in our world, there will be greater you're, the guy to bring them back. You and lynn bring chris haze back to the directors chair. So what do you mean? You're scared of your creative side. I mean I don't know what you're situation was, how you got you know into the into the arts, but I feel it I was so practical about. How would I, how would I earn a living I feel like came from a family where we were sort of very careful with, like spending stuff, and so also felt like, I felt it a group of real panic about how it I even continue to pursue this in any were in any legitimate way, and you know I end up just moving. and getting a job is apparent. Legal and working for. Eight or nine years in that capacity wall, I continued to write
open. My first few plays and just went back to work the next day because I just needed I mean I wish I hadn't ability the lad ass, your she needed sick thirty, and knowing that I could. I would have health insurance and rent money to be able to be wild and creative and free, and in my writing- but it's interesting that there there are fewer and fewer bad ass stories, either as generally generationally yeah but yeah, because you know no one's fucking around as much as they used to do. You know what I mean: you'd, better, be you'd better, be showing up for work capable of doing the job and there's the the the capacity for for producers, I think, and and and for audiences to tolerate you. You know bad ass story is as big.
I am limited, because the the cultural lexicon of when someone's fucked up is like you know. Well, this is too bad. You know what I mean: it's not like yeah and then he's out there, like you know like er, you get these playwright stories like he's drinking himself to death, but he's doing these great things. It's like. I don't think anyone gives a fuck about that anymore and they're just sorta like well. Good luck, you know, that'd be funny, it happened, subversively and sadly now you know why that stuff happens behind closed doors and people are shocked when they hear about it. But you know in the seventies, when SAM shepard and patti smith were running around doing whatever the hell they were doing, they were like fuck, yeah, rock and roll. I don't, I, I think it's a much more professional environment in some ways. Yeah do you think social media is kind of ruined that too
social media, if not, I think, is created a consciousness about it because it isn't. We know. I read the large on law, wrote this incredible biography of tennessee Williams here and you know cause an has an amazing autobiography. But you read, you read, you read like those accounts of those artistic lives and it does feel bad, ass and and amazingly scary and wild, in a way that that that does seem rare? I mean now that you're saying madam yeah. I think that something has happened. I think that, but there wasn't in the spotlight like while it was happening, is I guess what comments that the constant surveillance by passers by the inability to have any you? No real private life? You know like I imagine, even if there were more than three people hanging around tennessee Williams, one would be tweeting about the party totally in this feels like really exposing aiming as part of me is like I right place, like that's my place, feel about his purse. I want to get in terms of sharing the info.
I like emotional landscaper. What's going on Sweden, this feels vit really bizarre right, while this is a little its long for my, I think that he he know what I mean. Is that not some quake hit and I think that there were times where these type of conversations were had and I and I think they were had with people like tennessee Williams. I think that you, you know not to compare myself but studs, terkel and and people who were felt to be chronicling. You know the the emotional and creative ebbs and flows of of of artists, or you know, was around, and I think this is old style. I dunno if it was ever done specifically like this, but I think that the attention span to take something like this and process. It is relatively new again, unfortunately yeah, but I think just getting back to the bad. As you know stories is that when you really when you read those biographies, don't don't you have that moment like that? Not only were they geniuses, but they had some physical perseverance and and and tolerance
It seems almost inhuman. Absolutely I mean when you hear about like tennessee Williams or even about you know the the british actors were shit faced, you know all the fucking time. Could you even imagine you know yourself? I got one of your plays. You know your lead. Actor is just like drunk again yeah. You can wait. What would you do you'd be like a place at guy were absolutely especially mark fired erosion of drama, there's no drama that goes on in mounting an original play that I can't even about it. But if you had a producer young said I don't know, maybe you think twice about this. He's gonna bring people in you know it in hell hit not aid as eight out of ten, of course, and if it's a special it's got rudin saying that to you, you know you got to as you do that you it, and you know it's funny. The glass menagerie stir one of them. I think it almost it's sort of frames the narrative around it we're in the larboard biographies, I believe the actual played amanda wingfield. I forget her name now, she's famous anyway, she
I believe she pukes in the wing like before she was so now. You hear these stories and I'm like I can't imagine, and getting a rehearsal report. That's, like you know, Jane shell in a drinking puking. In the wings before, but you know right before, first entrance, I mean I honestly think I would have to just leave the city until them run was over, because I wouldn't know where to put the anxiety and distress that would come from like it showed a show you nervous enough will feeder is so that's what makes it so so magic is that you never know. What's gonna happen every time the cast on the state every shows a little different and a little in us. It's always a tightrope walk, but you that element of like a drug problem or is this person in a show up? You know thrust, conscious hats than you Really then you're really going out on that event, I think at that time the entire community was living on the edge a little like that that they were insulated in their way of life, which is not really possible now yeah- and
and everybody was sort of in on it, like. I think that that it had to have been like a lotta times that the the the celebration at the end of the show was like we, we made it through unlike the culture, around drinking was also deferred the consciousness about something maybe that alcoholism I mean it seems like the envelope was before somebody was like you have a serious drinking problem right that seem to exist a lot. A lot of leeway seem to exist, that's right wing, while what there's a with- and I wonder how that's it like a sort of changed. I do. I do think that, because of expectations, and because of things needing to be to be new and in and sort of immediately powerful, that the people have become very jaded specially with content in with things and in you know like in special when they hear hype about things they they really wanted to live up to two everything or bodies has it's weird sense of
entitlement yeah that that there's no real tolerance, tell me about it. Yeah see yeah said the guy who is nominated for appeal. It's her now now nominated for no, I just mean I just mean that's. I feel like every anybody who makes anything has that experience so yeah, even when it goes really well and- and you feel like you've you've had the dream, experience you realize then the if there can be said It'D- be a downside to any form of of success. And, of course it's it's relatives. So it's not actually a downside royal, just like the best problem. The world is that when, when people go to see something that they're told is great, They are going with their own, creating their own expectations and baggage and and and if it doesn't actually line up to their what they but their bring. What they had decided. It was going to be out of four. They saw. It suddenly they that they might have liked if they had just discovered it comes like this is not as good as right derive a salesman and it's like well
the plays. Ambition was not to be a competent. Do we react show competition writing a hook, and you gotta, put that sets out of your head is not, of course, yeah. It's not your job. It's your job is to just you know, try to tell the truth, so yeah. We'll walk me through that a little bit in that you know the play the humans in the creation of it. You know that you know what you ve woven into this saying, yeah, it's sort of the the cute I kind of knew a couple. Experience of you'll get your new apartment, yeah and you know the sort of strains of being a young couple and what one's going to do and what the other's doing and then it's come in then there then, all of a sudden there's, there's a very definitive nine eleven specter hanging over it and then there's you know there. There is a gay, not not gay struggle element, but a gay character that has to have a personal struggle. That is yeah it it's not
deadly, but it's concerning and and sure a bit embarrassing. And then you have you know these parents, the the the mother who sort of you know a kind of like you know fully. You know kind of engaged in overbearing religious denial person who does charitable thing. schreider sure, I'm just trying to remember the idea had actually doing a good job in matriarch, who is completely alzheimer's and an impulsive without any control of what s contributing to the Event you're depressing me just to saying all these things now and then you sort of father who you're trying to to be but be strong but is, is carrying his own burden of you know a financial burden and a personal burden and to me they actually seem like a a relatively stable family in some ways to which is, I think, that's what's
it's weird and strange, and maybe the interesting counter to everything that you just said, which is true like that all those problems exist. They all their lives as big lion. It is, if you love there. I think they're in oddly functional fan for all of their dysfunction. You know, I think part of is interested in exploring like the existential horrors of what felt a very ordinary and loving family right post to like, maybe that's the big issue being like we would, with that. these people actually kill each other by the end of the night, or you know hurl pieces furniture at each other, each it's nothing. It's about questioning their with they like unconditional love for each other, and I think the place more fascinated in the ways each of them are coping or, let's say not coping so well. With these basement level, fears pays the level
where, where whereat well- and they are, they are literally- there are literally stuck in the basement yeah. But if this apartment it's nice, yeah. I maintain that that is an amazing apartment and I I feel, like I get embarrassed every time. I I confess this, but I mark does a lot of space in that apartment. I'm with you queen size. You can fit a queen sized bed in that alcove yeah. No, I I think it's a great apartment. I think spiral staircases are are great. As you know, I didn't have any like art to put on the walls, and so for me I even thought that was like a beautiful piece of sculpture, yeah yeah night lights on christmas time. I liked the apartment, but did you just now? You couldn't have just made that connection between basement level problems in the basement level set. I think my subconscious made that connection. Now I'm making the connection ya know, but I mean I'm, I'm always thinking of it as as like like what's
I fear that we have a glass in the basement, but I like that because that's why you know what I'm growing up or when the un and what kind of how she grew up in but, like my grandmother's house, had this basement that was terrifying, yeah yeah, there's boxes basements are terrifying, I guess some people have finished basement and but there is like I did just realized. There was like the basement went into this other back room that, unlike like on in there, There's nothing in there just room with shelves like and then you go in there and if you like, three weird old pictures, just laying on a shelf on totally and genuine, like like spiders, do amazing, workin basements, amazing work in man who have maisie work everywhere. Do my best I meant there were. There would be just extraordinarily cobwebs and it wasn't lived in, it wasn't finished and even just the smell of like you know when you feel like the concrete floor, and but we're a phantom inspires in constructing the play of what happened on the upper level. What happened on alone? I think something interesting happen to me by living in a place that was early below ground for six years, where you actually,
we're looking outside and couldn't tell even on a sunny day was it was it sunny way? cloudy. Was it I think, some did see been in terms of storing away that if something about that setting did feel really spectacular cause it both felt utterly naturalistic and, like my favorite kind of pieces that that element of not knowing what's outside or having knowing there's all world out there, but actually not being able to access any of it just a brick wall and it felt that felt very met and luminous and kind of like the thing that feed or could exploit in a really quiet way, yeah like just having in IRAN davidson said it's just voided, it's just black! It's not this sat with like the hints of the lower side around lines of china town, and I think that works a kind of quiet magic on that those the things that I don't expect an audience to process nor any conscious way, but I do think that theater can
Normally, I'm of a fan of non realistic sets, because I think those really do clean, yet the cosmos right in a kind of amazing way, but I feel like you can also there's something I I was excited about this play to play with real architecture that slowly got voided sort of sir, and in a very bizarre white void, creamy white, like pre war, what you know the way: the slab white pain on everything and slowly as the lights go out, you actually do get back to a kind of a black stage. This again this is this- is how I was thinking about stuff and dreaming about the play its, not anything that I think its anyone should be noting were a kind of life, but this is likely the evolution of the discovery of you. You know in your creator process, satellite because it the more I talked writers it. You know we're do you start. You know, like you said that, even when we talked about the subconscious that you know, what are the sea
for something like the humans. Consumers are very disarming. Very intimate and very you know there's a lot of it. I don't want to see humanity, but if you walk into a situation, I think almost anybody. You know whether it's from their past or their kids pass where you're are you're. Familiar with this, you know right away. You're like oh, these people are our neighbors. Are these people that say you know you're familiar with there's no sort of like what the fuck is happening here until things move on yeah, and I think that that sort of like disarming and almost like you know, it's almost organic that you, you know that you feel like you're eavesdropping on on on what is this first meeting of, or maybe If is it? The first meeting of the the kid did that boyfriend or it is, I think that they she had set up. One really stealth. New york city drive russia conveniently was like? We don't have time for lunch, but
is here. He is, and you know- and this is the first yet sit down experience where they actually get to spend time where the family meets a nice guy yeah. So, where does the creative process start for you and making the play like what was the? What was that seed? This particular play? I it took a lot twists and turns it started for me just I was thinking a lot about fear and anxiety behind us think about the things were giving me up at night and that sort of one well that led me to this. You know tend to do a lot of reading than when I can't access what we trying started a like trying to read up about. Fear and anxiety, and I read accounts of like lord. I wrote this extraordinary poetry when he was in city after the nineteen, twenty nine stock market crash- and he just saw- downtown manhattan in this completely new way, and I started to become obsessed with the just thinking about the bay
existential fears that everybody has yet here of poverty, our fear of ill health or fear of losing the love of somebody fear of death. If your failure and criticism gradually took those fears and kind of built, a family around them, literally kind of almost assigning. That was the very rarely starting point. Thinking about you know, character, who really would be struggling with this fear of criticism or failure of a cap. A character is struggling with ill health. Yet her too is struggling with. You know the older sister in the play just out of a relationship right losing the love of some right room, so I sort of built it almost miss murder, mystery style in line with that, probably some sort of ptsd around you know nine eleven, which is something completely adding anyway. It's one of those fears were sort of like whence action. or impose financial crime and money anxiety, s dripping rights all over the planet. Right, I don't think, there's a cent
I think every other sentence has some hint of you know. Even if the mothers just talking about price of a candle and also seems can't casual, I think lighting or of poverty is really covering over the plan. and then I just thought, if I did, I'm obsessing much about fear. What, if I could find awaited, tell the story, via story that actually a little scary, and that's when I started to think about the cycle google thriller genre, the horrors genre and I think one happening is the place. How is your recollection its both drawing on that national family play and it's completely smashed into the other genre that I that I love, which is which is the origin. I mean literally at the enders through thorough quiet nods, but I mean Bernie is literally going up a dark side, case we land turn a sort of the, though the weird homage to the moment,
like a west craven movie, where the beautiful girl is going up, the stairs and you're. Like don't be, I don't answer the phone you notice, and it also, if not it's not literally that moment, but but but you when I think of how the play works, I sort of see those moments again. This isn't something I think and and ronnie one else is thinking about right, but you know where you were coming from yeah. I think I think it's interesting to talk about dread in a play that conjures it sure the kind of dread that it's trying to explore- and I think that what's interesting, is that
in the world you created it specifically and in in infusing financial fear throughout all of it. It's it's an interesting thing in that you know the class of people that that go to theater casually. You know like if a if a character in the play that you wrote were to go see phantom. It would be a big deal yeah. You know like youtube right, so there there's something about the the the sort of like, maybe not complete, lack of familiarity but lack of of lifestyle of of many of the audience that who's going to be entering this and so like whether or not completely identify with that particular fear, because they probably a people working for them, not unlike the people in your play, right at all. The other sort of existential anxieties at all of us have here, you know, are, are present and in it becomes a full organism. You're dealing with that dread yeah. So at its core
Wheatley, you know relatable, and I I like that that that something like your show would force. You know somebody who lives on the upper east side to sort of like you know, humanize themselves in a way you know and and realize that, no matter what level of existence you're at that, this shit is happening, and I liked the idea of now that you brought up the lantern. Is that yeah there? It is it equally as horrifying as to not knowing you know what killer is at the top of the stairs when that killer is just really the next day, yeah yeah, it's like how are we gonna life is tariff. I mean that's what I think I think the play I feel like it. It it acknowledged,
that life is scary and terrifying and horrifying, but it's also hilarious and exhilarating and joyful, and and and there's not a character in it that you don't empathize with and and relate to, and you know even you know at whatever their transgressions are. You know whether they be emotional or actual, where you're like yeah that's happened. Well, that's great now that makes me very happy because I do think at the end of the day I feel like people are so resilience and I think that's I think people are astonishing and how funny they are in the midst of these anxiety that how resilience- and so it's it's certainly not to it- meant to be. Let's look at the hall of this group of people in all like wallow in santa it's kind of like a part of me, thinks it's like stepping back and saying look at how maison people are look at what we do. Even in these, you know right, look at how we cling to each other and look at the ways we cope and get through and everybody has
you're, not you know like none of this stuff is your knowing killed somebody. Nobody killed someone, anyone that you know even the illness in the play like now she's. it's not stage for some geyser, it's it's it's something the these are things that you in some form or another. Everybody deals with an eel, and life gives you it's part of life no avoiding any. I think so, and maybe you haven't encountered all of these fears just yet, but I do think by time. You know we all get the grave. It's like people think that is the the the whole trick of it is that you know the language is so organic and it's not elevated in terms of like what theater you know sometimes,
as to the point where it's alienating. It actually goes, the other way, yeah and, and then it brings people in through the basement. You know as as opposed to sort of like wow look at the lights what's happening now in the process of creating this. How much do you you know? How do you workshop something when it's not complete and and and how do you start to trim these things to to to where they're you know minimal and and exactly what you want? I don't. I don't know that experience as a as a writer, but I imagine You get a draft and do you work teens. Do you? Have people read it out loud to you yeah? It depends this play. It took me a while to figure out so I I sort of kept a. stay home, and I tend to write a lot of drafts before I show it to anyone, and then, when I get a draft that, I think where I think I know
The thing is that I'm ready for other people to start offering their their thoughts. The first up for me is just actors to sit around the table with actors there, the best that that's the best editing comes from hearing actors remark seeing how they sounded in Amelia. I think I think for me that just bring it out loud, your next drafters, then that's that's the biggest round of changes because you can learn so much from from listening to people start to try makes sense of your work. When you say that your most personal liking as we're having this comes yassin. You know where we're not crying we're. Ok, so if you're a cry, if papers. If it's my don't cry when I saw the view from the bastard you at this, Are I want to live here, but when you, when you say that it that your most personal eye on you know,
do the work? You know what in that play. You know out of all of it, I feel that you are able to to find some catharsis personally, you know emotionally. I feel like the big secret is when you write a family play. Everybody wants to know is that your sister is that literally your mother's, that literally your father did this really happened and for me you can be so much more truthful when you hide behind a shield. The fiction- and you can also split your personality. I think people underestimate how how how many of the characters are often the writer right and I've talked to other. You know, friends and colleagues of tooth said. thing where it's like the big secret is actually that I'm there's a lot of me in a lot of these characters. Sure, instead of the very neat answer which is like that's my grandmother, that's my
right now. We obviously right and also with these characters. If you can find a delicate and organic way to do it, they they can. They can engage in and confess and admit and struggle in a way that your goes on spoken total in most likes. You You were talking about the tears of relationships in the play in it. I think that was completely subconscious. When I stood back, I actually, and I first saw the play in a action in Chicago where it had were premier. I was a kind of for the first time in a preview I was like. I think there are two play about me trying to make sense of relationships, because you have the couple who's been together for forty years, trying to keep it together. You have the young couple just made the leap to move in together and you have Amy in the middle, whose just trying to figure out if she made a huge error and where she's going after a break up from a long term,
relationship so you're, seeing the start of something the end of something and the consequences of maybe what it means to love someone for forty years and how scary that can be, but I think it was hilarious. I did think was emotionally yo compelling moving it incompletely engaging and in like, but that is Weird line that I dont know has always existed this line in theatre in and on television, where, where all the sun in there were these to the is it is it a drama, is at a comedy years- it was ended. Where do they come from? I don't know I don't know either healthy yeah yeah. That was way marketing things like. Oh, I get it there. They needed to be pitched and packaged in a line, but now almost everything yo is able to contain, contain both it, which is which is more like life. That's interesting to see even in tv that, because there are that the categories and a lot of these award chosen stuff, where it's like best drama in rank, comedy and-
I do think it's interesting. The theatre doesn't separate those two minutes, great, that's the honesty of theatre comes in and in its also like, and I'm just excited for. You excited fur for everybody, because, like I I'm new to this- and I you know the more I talk to theater people, it's like yeah, there's a whole history. To this thing. Sure new york theater It's always been in a relevant to the people that are involved in it and on a business level. There may have been dark times with like how the fuck are. We gonna get people to come by. not, unlike you know, like you were saying before about you, know a social media and the lack of intimacy, and also the lack expression in the inability of people to talk even on the phone now that there is a craving for for the intensity of of connect yeah, and I think that even the communal experience of sitting down next to other people watching live rhino people right now, seeing them spit yeah, there's no replacing it was great in
regulations on your tony nomination Annie her thanks and at the end, that the pure, through nomination, much been it must have an exciting super exciting. and I actually know Brandon who's, another finalist and lynn who who won this year are are both friends, so it was kind of that's kind of an amazing year, so the the community actually functions as community. There really is a theater community yeah, I'm starting to feel it more and more the more I'm a part of it, Adam yeah. It's that's, that's actually not a myth and moving to broadway I mean how is that decided? I mean I know Scott's your producer for like what is the business side of that the sight of it. Is that scott rude and saw a matinee right before we opened by we had before we opened, and I was told a day or two later that he was interested in moving the show. As is, two broadway and
It still feels surreal. I mean, if I'm being honest, it's it still feels like I. If I any time I met the theater, I can't believe the show is is actually across from phantom of the opera on forty fourth street and that's a product of of Scott actually caring about the american theater and It's it's slightly unprecedented that a show without celebrities via a playwright who's, not a celebrity and a title that, isn't you know a known title of a play and would have a commercial production on Broadway. So I don't. I still have kind of king myself yeah, it's it's pretty fresh. I don't think this is going to I mean I honestly feel like this is going to once in a lifetime kind of a thing: don't laugh, okay, fine, there's! No, I'm not saying it's all downhill from there. I just saying that the writers of my generation, we don't see broadway as the end game, because it's actually in some ways, a fantasy
especially how you want to ensure that it has specific requirements that might come with specific requirements, maybe ditching the actor. You really want for a tv star, and I just the sheer it. Sometimes the tv star is the right actor freer play in europe would love to get that film star who d love sooth eater, but you know the end of might well have to wait around for, like years for their scheduled to clear up, and so I feel like my generation, we do like create feeder off, broadway and and living there, because reasonable its reasonable, and you know you have control of your comedy and idiotic. It's it's! You to the finish line. Knowing that it's what you wanted it to be an ideal, broadway. That feels like a more of a fantasy that you get you get to make the thing on your own terms, and then someone will actually believe in it enough and you ve got it right, and this case yet- and I was like the fairy the odd father yeah and what we want are we gives them love to the castor who played the parents, so the parents are played by the credit
well jane how'd. He shall and red Bernie Cassie back plays the older sister Sarah steal. A lot of people know from the good wife is the younger d. Her her boyfriend is aryan more ed. And lore incline is finishing as the demented grandmother. Amazing, real you know. Did you actually don't even know that she's unpeopled touch her after the show makes her to make sure she's? Ok, said- it's both what's hard about doing that, which I can only imagine hard. It is a sort of made up by the fact that, after the show she says she can it's like being reborn. She goes to that place. of not being able to connect and being so shut down, and then she takes a curtain call and she can talk. She can move around. She can exercise she cast on people
loves, yeah yeah. That must be a trip for her. Well thanks, you're talking to me to be here, and oh, my god that was great. Can I can I I could probably write a play right now. sometimes I used to think that more when it. Whenever I talk to me, why can I do that? Well, it's not what you chose to do with you. I'm sure you could write one, but I mean the kind of handle your expectations Maybe I placed them guitar, I would that be hey. I got a week. I put my ear enough, because I have to by your plugs into get the right tone without losing my hearing
the burma is, boomer lives, Summer lives.
Transcript generated on 2022-09-06.