You’re Invited to
with Guest Playwright Robert Askins
Sunday, March 17th at 8pm! at Ensemble Studio Theatre
1. Some people don’t know that you act as well as write. What makes those two things fun or challenging in different ways.
I love good plays. Really love them. I want to be a part of them anyway I can. Getting to be in a good writer’s play is a way to understand their work like no other to understand the work as a whole like no other. A lot of the time I think writers will get in their heads. They will focus on idea and not on action on punctuation and not on performance. We all must be reminded all the time that it is about bodies on stage doing things to each other with words with actions with blood with whatever. Acting reminds me of that sometimes. It reminds me of how reliant I am on the people I play with. It reminds me where the play really is and it’s always in the hands of the people on stage.
2. What did it mean for your career to be a part of Youngblood?
Everything. Really everything. I moved to the City because of the encouragement of Curt Dempster EST’s founding artistic director. When Curt passed I was at sea, like a lot of people who relied on him for support. It was about that time that I applied to Youngblood. Graeme and RJ really took a chance on me. I was an intern that wouldn’t go away. It was a really intimidating when I got in. It made me step up my game. I wrote more than I ever had. A lot of what I wrote got read. I got to hear what failed and what succeeded. I shed a lot of bullshit. It made me think harder go further and really take part in the conversation. At the end of the day it’s that back and forth between actors writers directors and audience members that makes what we do so special. Youngblood is the place for all those pieces to knock together until something special and new happens. I was really lucky to be a part of that.
3. We all have ghosts that haunt our work. What are some of the thematic or iconic ghosts that implant themselves in your plays over and over?
All of my plays are bout Good and Evil. Most of them are about Good and Evil as seen through the lens of the church in small town Texas. I think the things that keeps coming up is the failure of Good. I can’t be good. I don’t know many people who can. What is it for then? What does our Good do? Any of the Goods not just the small town church one. The Brooklyn good, a good that seems to be built out of artisanal cocktails and fixed gear bicycles. What’s the difference between virtue and fashion? Is good just the way that we define the boundary of our village? How do we know what’s right? Once we know it how do we do it? What do we do in world where everyone wants something different and a lot of the desires are at cross-purposes? Are we done with it? Is it even important anymore? Should we all just take what we can before the ship goes down? It seems like good is for suckers and saints and nobody wants to be a sucker and so few of us can be saints we’re lost.
4. I know you’ve used puppets in some of your recent works and they’ve been really brilliant and artistically successful in different ways, so I gotta ask where did the puppet fetish come from?
Puppets… ummm… I’m a weirdo? I like weird things? I mean I am and I do but beyond that I think the theatre is suffering from self-importance. I think it’s carrying a heavy load of ART. I think the biggest gift we can give ourselves is joy. Permission to laugh. Freedom to be messy. Puppets do that. Come on. How serious can it be when he’s got a sock on his hand? The play can be dark. It can be fucked up. It can be whatever it wants but you can look at it laugh at it enjoy it because it of the strangeness of the world. It tilts the perspective. It makes it fun. It‘s free and wild and out of fucking control. Puppets yall out of control puppets.
5. What’s a memory from your childhood that shaped you as a writer?
I was in an auditorium in High School. I was watching two people pretend to be in love on stage. They were a little in love with each other I think. There wasn’t a piece of scenery or a stitch of costume on either of them. They were pretending but they weren’t. It was simple but it wasn’t. By being on stage they were plugging into this really old thing. And there wasn’t anyone in the way. There wasn’t anyone that could stop us making our story part of the story.
6. What projects do you have coming up?
I’m doing a workshop of a bloody bloody play called Wrench with the Claque and I’m working on a whole bunch of new full lengths.