I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation between us and everyone else on this planet. The President of the United States, a gondolier in Venice, just fill in the names. I find it extremely comforting that we're so close. I also find it like Chinese water torture, that we're so close because you have to find the right six people to make the right connection... I am bound, you are bound, to everyone on this planet by a trail of six people.
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What I hate about kitchen-sink dramas is [this idea] that the set is real, therefore you're going to be seeing truth. You have to earn truth. Truth can't be a part of the fact that people appear to talk that way and live in that room. You're looking for the poetry in something, and I don't mean poetry in the fancy sense. Naturalism believes by just replicating a thing you give the truth, rather than earning the truth.
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I am the same artist with the same nagging questions I had in my early 20's. What's real and what isn't? How do we tell what's real in our lives? How do we see things as they are? What is my role in life? If the Signature hadn't forced the issue by devoting its season to my plays, I could at least believe I had changed. Really, they're all the same! What is SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION but THE HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES with money?
I ushered at the Shubert in New Haven during graduate school when plays en route to Broadway still went out of town to try out. I worked backstage at summer stock doing jobs from garbage man to strapping on Herbert Marshall's wooden leg to fixing Gloria Swanson's broken plumbing in her dressing room with her yelling at me as I worked the plunger.
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You must keep people happy backstage because that affects what's onstage. During a run, the playwright feels like the mayor of a small town filled with noble creatures who have to get out there and make it brand new every night. When a production works, it's unlike any other joy in the world.
Plays have a celebratory nature that no other form has. Theater always meant celebration, a birthday, a reward for good grades. I felt at home in a theater. I loved being part of an audience. All the rules - the audience has to see the play on a certain date at a certain time in a certain place in a certain seat.
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