So, if you could tell the good people your name and where you’re from.
I’m Alex Borinsky and I’m from Baltimore.
What’s the current project you’re working on at SPACE?
I’m doing a couple of different things. Starting on two revisions, older plays I haven’t touched in a long time. One is a play about a women’s trombone ensemble and the other is about a Jewish family in Boston in the fifties. And then I’ve been growing and fertilizing some new things. I’ve been working with a friend with some text for a dance piece she’s making. She had been helping me with a piece of mine, so she’d been coming to my rehearsals, and now I’m going to her rehearsals. We’ve been trying to figure out how text and movement fit together… There’s one last chunk of that to write.
You’re here on the farm with Youngblood—how did you get started with them?
I guess I applied once or twice when I first moved to New York, and joined, I guess, five years ago? And it’s—yeah, it’s been a very special home. I feel like this was the first place to welcome me, where I felt a community of makers, and a community of actors and directors and audience… It’s a special group.
Do you have a favorite place on the farm you’ve been working? I’ve seen you working out on the back porch of the Sycamores a lot early in the morning.
Yeah, I’ve just been eating up all the outdoor time. We’re out here in a gazebo. A couple days ago I was here. I haven’t done any work on my computer since I’ve been here, which is really nice. I have this thing now [holds up a yellow legal pad] stuffed with all sorts of—I feel like they’re different projects and beginnings of things—all mushrooms growing on the same log.
That’s so awesome! I always like handwriting stuff. I feel like the ideas flow a little more than when you’re sitting typing away.
Yes, yes, I couldn’t agree more.
Do you act as well? Because you’re always asked to read in the readings and you do such a great job.
Thanks. Yeah, I like to do it. I do acting stuff when it comes up. Recently, I’ve been writing some stuff and performing it myself. But I’m not chasing it so much. It’s a tough road. That was mostly what I did in college: perform and make stuff with my friends. But this last year has been mostly writing and directing.
Where did you go to college?
Yale. Oh wow, Jill another one of our interns goes there, she really loves the program there.
Yeah! We were talking about this one teacher in particular, Deb Margolin, whoʼs a very special human being and artist and sort of a hero. I think Jill said she had also studied with her.
What’s the next step for you and the stuff you’re working on at SPACE? I know you touched on the dance piece a little earlier. And for you as a playwright and director.
Well there’s a piece I’m doing a reading/workshop of in the fall that I’ve been working on here, one of the two I’m revising.
Which one is that?
The trombone play, Going Out and Coming Back. We did a workshop production of it at EST with Youngblood a couple of years ago.
And then Iʼve just been thinking… I met a poet this year who was talking a lot about sort of trusting your uncertainty about what a thing is—just sort of opening your perception of whatever it is you’re working on just a little bit, constantly trying to widen that awareness just a little bit so you don’t get too comfortable with your sense of what the boundaries are, what the end result might be. It’s that multiple-mushrooms-growing-on-the-same-log thing. With the text for my friend’s dance piece, for instance, there are little bits of what I wrote for her that have blobbed off and are turning into bits of other things.
Iʼve been secretly working on something, some big weird thing, that I think is not a play but also not quite a story or an essay. I think it’s about what it’s like for one thing to be about something else. So, that is like my secret private little weirdo thing that has been growing over the course of the last six months. I think that I either want to print it up in a little book, or make it into an audio piece, because it’s framed as a play, but it doesnʼt have characters, or different voices; it’s sort of somewhere between an essay and a story.
I’ve been aware of letting the lines of genre collapse a little bit. I mean, all the things that are in your mind at once are connected anyway by whatever your preoccupations or stylistic tics are. Apparently Gertrude Stein would start writing something in a notebook and would just keep writing, and when the notebook ran out of pages that was the end. It’s this wonderful arbitrary container of space—I’ve been feeling the arbitrary container of time, of the last months and the thoughts that keep coming back to me. And which get worked out in this rewrite of the trombone play, and the other play, and all the specific projects that are all still connected by the moment I’m working on them. So I’ve been enjoying letting all of it become part of this one weirdo piece – like a petri dish, or a map of all the stuff Iʼve been exploring recently. So, it might be five different projects, but they’re all in this notebook, they’re all connected now, all feeding each other. There might be a piece of text that starts in one play and ends up in a different play with a different context.
So, I guess I’m trying to let the play-things be plays, and those are fun to work on, but I’m also trying to let the things that are not quite plays tell me what they want to be.
If you were reincarnated as a farm animal, what would you be?
This is a hard question because I feel like I’m so on the cusp of finding my spirit animal… Maybe a dog? Maybe… Iʼve been feeling really connected to the cat. I think his name is Porch?
This is a hot topic because Emily says the catʼs name isnʼt Porch.
Do we know if the cat is a boy or a girl?
No. Nobody knows. Seriously. Nobody knows.
Well, Iʼve been feeling very connected to that creature.
But I think in terms of me either a dog or a salamander. Iʼve seen frogs here, but I havenʼt seen salamanders.
Yeah, there are frogs all over the place. Down by the lake, there have got to be salamanders.
It is. It’s a very difficult question.
Interviewed by Emma Munson.