What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Kevin Armento, I live in Brooklyn but I’m from San Diego originally.
And what are you working on this week?
I’m working on a new play that I started last week and hoping to get a first draft on. I don’t want to say quite what it’s about, but it’s about someone who may or may not become president soon.
Cool. That could go one of two ways. How long have you been with ARS NOVA?
I’m coming to the end of my second year with ARS NOVA. December, I’ll be graduating.
As you’ve been on the farm, are there any specific places that you’ve been drawn to working in?
Yeah, as I found last year, too, I love the little benches inside the Sycamores house, the little padded seating benches. I go there when I wake up before breakfast, and then usually after breakfast I like to sit on the porch and get a little outdoors and sun while I work.
How does that compare to your routine when you’re not here?
It’s a similar routine but with almost no distraction. So it’s the same routine but I find infinitely more focus, and so a 20 minute burst of writing here is not the same as a 20 minute burst of writing back home.
What do you think helps you focus here?
You know, not being able to go anywhere. Not having any errands to have to do. It’s like a five day fantasy world where you don’t have obligations and errands, and so they don’t cloud your thinking at all and you have your meals taken care of. I read a book recently that was like the daily rituals of famous artists through time, and one of the commonalities it seemed like was that a lot of them had their meals prepared for them. It seems like that makes it a lot easier to concentrate, if you have somebody taking care of that for you. Maybe a lot easier in the 19th century than it is now.
Have you had a favorite meal here so far?
Yeah. The tacos last night, hands down. But I think I convinced Rebecca to do an Asian dish tonight or tomorrow. I’ve been out of the country a lot, so I haven’t had like, my fix of good Asian-American cuisine.
Where were you traveling?
I was in Greece, and before that I was in Alaska, and Connecticut.
Can you talk a bit about the cornhole competition from last year to this?
Trish is definitely the chief instigator, I just like to do it. I think cornhole is my favorite thing that SPACE on Ryder Farm has, because it’s the perfect activity between writing sessions, because it uses a different part of your body, and brain, because it barely uses your brain. And it lets you just continue chewing on what you’re chewing on, without having to think about something else, but also not be idle, so you don’t lose the flame. And then Trish has just blown it up into a whole competitive drunken revelry thing.
Is there an official rulebook or something?
No, we kind of make it up as we go. I think we decide how many points we want to do, what the rules are, and we change them as we need to, depending on if it’s taking too long. I’ve never played during the day, we always play at night. (Kevin is giving this interview as he practices his corn hole technique on the bowling green).
What’s been the biggest difference from last year to this year?
Maggie (SPACE's Company Manager) somehow kicking even more ass than last year, which has blown me away. Seeing her on a golf cart is pretty boss. She looks like she belongs on that thing, like she’s so badass. There was a big shed over there that was in ruins and it freaked me out and now it’s gone and there’s a beautiful picnic table, so that’s a nice change. But other than that, it nicely hasn’t changed.
So what is the next step for your play?
It’s the first play for me in a long time, like over a year, that I’ve been able to write just for me, and just from scratch. I’ve been doing a lot of collaborations and things for theater companies, which has been great, a nice departure, but that’s been for like a few scripts in a row. So the plan for this is to be able to take a step back with a brand new play and build it from the ground up a little bit, which will be really fun, cause I haven’t been able to in a while.
What is the hardest thing about writing a play for a collaboration or a specific theater company?
You know, there are very few things about it that’s harder than writing a play in blank space because you’re writing it for people, and you hopefully know what’s exciting about it to them, and what’s the shared excitement. I guess it would be any ways in which your tastes depart from theirs, but I guess for me, for the most part, the collaboration has started because of something that was mutually exciting so it hasn’t come up much where there’s a divergence there. Timetable, I guess, you don’t have as much control over timetable because there’s more parts, so it all has to move together, whereas you can make something on your own and do it exactly how you want to do it, you have a little more control there.
If you were reincarnated as a farm animal which one would you be and why?
If I was a farm animal this year, I think I’d be a sheep, not because I’m a follower but because I feel freshly shorn and light—
Did you recently have more hair than you do now?
This is metaphorical, I didn’t literally get freshly shorn. I mean like, of responsibility and obligation and things that were weighing me down a little bit, both in good ways and bad ways. I feel as light as a freshly shorn sheep.