Interview with Joshua Harmon
SPACE: What is your company name, and what is the project that you’ve been working on at SPACE?
JOSHUA: Well, I am my company! I’ve been working on this play called The Franco –Prussian War, and I’ve been thinking about this play for about a year. I was at a workshop with Annie Baker and she had us write these nine scenes that could be read in any order. And so I wrote these nine scenes of this guy who’s obsessed with this other guy from work, and his therapist. And it was kind of crazy to hear them all out of order because it really didn’t matter…the obsession and the depression still came through and you sort of pieced the story together. And I wanted to write this epic play about unrequited love. And I had all these big ideas and it was going to be historical and it was going to be like, Petrach and Laura; epic unrequited loves through the ages. And then I thought, you know, one story is enough. Also I think I’ve written 30 or 40 pages up here these past few days.
SPACE: Where are you in your process?
JOSHUA: I’m doing a reading of the play in a week at the Lark, and it’s going to be a really messy first draft, it’s really long, there’s too much stuff in it, but I’m trying not to censor too much, and to just say “let’s put it all in the first draft and then see what sticks to the wall”. So that’s going to be really big. And then after that reading I’m probably not going to look at it for a few weeks and then pick it back up in August and do a big re-write and keep on keepin’ on. And then we’ll see what happens! I mean who knows?
SPACE: How have you spent your time here at SPACE?
JOSHUA: I’ve done a couple of things. For my own writing, I did this thing yesterday that was really helpful. I wrote down every scene in Act 1 on scrapbook paper, and then I cut them out, and tried to start to organize it by where it should fit in the order of things. It’s interesting because I use the computer so much for my writing and everything, but there’s something about being able to literally slide a piece of paper that’s different than just “cutting and pasting” something. It took me about an hour to do it, and it really cracked a lot of stuff open. And I’ve been writing all over the farm! I wrote next to a chicken yesterday, it was really fun. And then I planted marigolds today and I took a couple of walks. I did some different kinds of things here it was really useful.
SPACE: Did you have a favorite spot on the farm to write?
JOSHUA: I like this front porch a lot! I like that the chickens come by here and you can see what’s going on. I don’t need silence, you know? So I like a little bit of noise and activity…seeing the people come to the farm stand. So that’s been nice. And I work in my bed a lot, so I did some work up there. It’s cool to be in such an old space. Just thinking about all the people who have contributed to keeping this place intact, all the people whose names you’ll never know. It’s kind of amazing.
SPACE: How do you see the project proceeding from this residency?
JOSHUA: I have more work to do! This was a really good shot to work on it on my own. And I thrive on deadlines, so having the Lark deadline next week is great, because it’s pushing this play out and getting it done. And then it’s really a question of looking at what you have. So the next steps are really going to be about me rewriting. Which is so much harder and bigger than just even writing the first draft. It’s a structure-it’s an architecture. And so you have to make sure the house stands, see where it’s going to collapse, and what you have to do to build it up. And there’s so much in the play that probably can’t stay there. I definitely overwrite and then have to strip away. And I always forget that the audience is so much more intelligent than I give them credit for, they pick things up right away. For me, I don’t trust myself, so I write it all out and then I see people get it and I’m like “Ok, let’s lose that page”.
SPACE: If you came back in another life as a vegetable or a farm animal, what would you be?
JOSHUA: What would I be or what would I like to be?
SPACE: Let’s go with what you would like to be.
JOSHUA: I feel like I would be a tree. I feel like I would see a lot of people come and go. I would be an observer, I would be watching. Watching the changes, and mourning changes but not being able to do anything about it and seeing people and animals live their lives and not really being able to join in. I sort of feel like writers are trees in that way. They observe. Yeah, I think I would be a tree. Maybe people will come over for shade or something.
SPACE: What kind of tree?
JOSHUA: Like that one. (points to giant tree in front yard) I like that one. It’s a good tree.
SPACE: Is there anything else you’d like to add about your stay here?
JOSHUA: The interns have been particularly amazing! It’s been really great. I’ve had a good time.