Padraic Lillis is the Guest Artistic Producing Playwright for New York Madness in February 2012. He has been directing professionally for twenty years. He is also a produced and published playwright. Padraic is a company member of the LAByrinth Theater, an adjunct professor with the Department of Dramatic Writing at NYU, Artist-in-Residence with Alchemy Theater, an alumnus of The Drama League Director’s Project, and a lifelong Yankee fan.
Padraic offers his insights on writing a play and where inspiration comes from.
How are you drawn to material or what sparks your artistic brain?
I’m usually sparked by a feeling or issue that keeps coming up within myself. I’ve wanted to write political plays, or social issues. However, when I’m inspired to actually write, and I’m in front of the computer starting a project – it is always the personal that is what motivates me. A feeling that has been weighing on me starts to gain a context to exist outside of myself – and then I get to look at it from different sides. I think to see if there is a way to avoid it in life. And then as I explore what is needed to remove this feeling – that becomes what I’m searching for, or the characters are, as the play moves forward.
What’s been the best thing you’ve learned in the last year or two and how is it different to what you learned when you were first starting out?
Writing a play is hard.
I could stop at that statement. But I don’t want to sound glib. I’ve always thought it was hard. After writing my first play I knew it for certain. A first draft sometimes can be easy, but if that is the case I discover very quickly that I’m avoiding something in the play. And, so, it requires going in and digging deeper. And getting more specific. And more honest. After doing the work I tend to learn about myself, probably something about others, and definitely what I’d like to be able to avoid. Those discoveries are cathartic, however, not achieved with ease.
Besides the personal investment in a play which is required, the act of crafting a story as best you can – is hard.
And so, I have to care about the play. It has to be personal to me, or I’m not going to do the work. The most important part of learning this lesson is that when I’m struggling with a play, I can still question my ability, the value of the story I’m telling, and have all of those other doubts, but I also find comfort in knowing that the struggle is part of the process.
What do you find most satisfying about being a Theatre Artist?
Discovery. And community, because you can’t do it alone.
New York Madness comes to you live Monday, February 6, 2012 at Theaterlab. The show starts at 8:00 pm.