At the PWC this week: Jason Gray Platt

This week we welcome Core Writer Jason Gray Platt to the Playwrights' Center for the first time. He is workshopping Ye Bare and Ye Cubb with director Jessica Fisch and actors Dan Hopman, George Keller*, Emily Gunyou Halaas*, Michael Wieser*, Sherwin Resurreccion*, Jennifer Waweru, Sue Scott*, and Austen Fisher (*Member of Actors' Equity). We asked Jason a few questions:

What advice do you have for playwrights interested in writing experiential, collaborative theater like your Empire Travel Agency?

Words can mean very little.

I’m an aural writer—I hear voices, and most of my work reflects that: very few stage directions, or descriptions, or anything else that might interrupt the voices.

But experimental work—particularly immersive work—pushes you to see the limits of speech.

To focus on creating space, on atmosphere, on dialogue not necessarily being the driving force of a piece.

Language can be such a dirty trick.

Sometimes it’s nice not to play it.

When did you know you wanted to be a playwright?

In high school, I fell in love.
(With a human.)

She was an actress, and I wrote fiction, so the obvious course of action was to make her fall in love with me by writing her a play.

The play was very bad, but the process of writing it was very good.

“Good” being an understatement; it was more like having an awareness that the poured concrete foundation of my life, which I had been waiting for seventeen years to set, had finally done just that, and I could at last begin to build on it.

(The play did not work, by the way.)

What do you do when you’re stuck on something you’re writing?

Work on something else.

Or read something else. Or watch something else. Or talk to someone else.

I have a tendency to get acute tunnel vision at times, and unless I just walk away it can spiral.

The moments you end up treasuring most in life have a tendency to blindside you, and that can be just as true for art.

What play do you wish you would have written and why?

Churchill’s Far Away.

It is, for me, the defining play for the twenty-first century.

How we learn apathy, how we become numb, how we become complicit in evil.

And in the end, how our individual complacency leads to global disunion and destruction.

She brilliantly, succinctly, theatrically, leads us into the back room of our minds, and points out the infestations we so desperately try to ignore.

What will theater be like 45 years from now?

The middle will disappear.

Spaces will be deeply intimate or immensely grand.

Shows will either last under ninety minutes or over three hours.

Texts will be exhaustively naturalistic or wildly experimental.

Budgets will be shoestring or astronomical.

The quality of everything will be astonishingly high.

And, I assume, nobody will be paid very well.