What is your full name?
My name is Todd London
What is the project you are working on at SPACE?
I came here as part of the family residency. I’m working on a posthumous book of the writings and speeches of a woman named Zelda Fichandler who was really a founder of the regional theater. She founded Arena Stage in 1951 and led it for forty years. She was the head of the graduate acting program at NYU for many many years and was really one of the great visionaries of the nonprofit theater. She was also one of the theater’s great prose writers; many of her essays and speeches were published during her lifetime, but they have never been collected. I was helping her out with her collection of writings when she died last year. She died at age 91. She had asked if I would continue work on the book, if she couldn’t, and I was honored to. The week at SPACE has given me the chance to take all Zelda’s material and to start shaping the manuscript from the outline that we have. Space has given me exactly the kind of time I never have because I run a university school of drama and am always working on many things at once, and always looking for more family time. So it’s really great to have a week to focus on this without sacrificing family time. I’m also using some free writing time in the morning to get back to a novel that I had abandoned when I moved to Seattle from New York three years ago. I’m doing a little bit of both, but mostly I’m focusing on Zelda.
What is it like being here with your family?
Well it's great. We came from three weeks of traveling in England and Scandinavia. We brought everything that we could carry, but only what we could carry. We shipped our laptops ahead, which was terrifying. I carried a flash drive with everything from my laptop in case the computer didn’t make it here. I have a 22-year-old son, who isn’t with us, and a 10-year-old who is. My wife, Karen Hartman, is a playwright; she’s working on a play here. So it’s great. We’ve never done a work retreat all together. And our son is the oldest of the kids at the junior residency, so he’s pretty self sufficient. I love looking out the window and seeing them all together.
Where have you been spending most of your time?
I’ve actually been working mostly on a high stool at the kitchen counter. Linda Cho and I both staked out the table in Kay Hall. But she’s a costume designer with tons of books and a printer and all that stuff. So I gave way and moved to the high counter. I sit there most of the time with headphones on. I did a little work in my room this morning, working on my novel. I like the feeling, though, of having somebody else in the room--concentrating and working hard--but still separate while I’m working. And the coffee is right there.
So what is coming up for you and your project?
I’m hoping to have Zelda’s book in some shape this fall. I’m also doing rewrites on another book, a collaboration with the director Andre Gregory, who is probably most famous for the movie, My Dinner With Andre. He’s also an experimental theater director. He directed the Uncle Vanya that became the Vanya on 42nd Street and recently A Master Builder, part of a long long collaboration with playwright/actor Wally Shawn. Andre and I have been working on the book, about Andre’s life and work--his amazing stories--for almost four years. We gave it to our publisher in March and are now doing a second pass at it. So that’s happening. After this I go back to the School of Drama at the University of Washington where I’m the Executive Director. I published a first novel in 2001 and have just finished a second one, which I’m starting to circulate. The one I’m working on here is my third, though it’s been on hold for much the last few years--all part of the long transition from life in New York to a very different life in Seattle.
If you were reincarnated as a farm animal what would you be? And why?
You know I’ve given absolutely no thought to that. It sounds cliche, but I think I would want to be a horse. Horses are beautiful and strong and quick. don’t even know what they do on a farm, except get ridden and maybe graze. A horse life seems a little less precarious than a duck or chicken life. And being a cow is just too sedentary. Being a sheep is cute, but then you’re just one of many. Whereas horses have a more royal bearing. I didn’t grow up riding horses, but I love them and that would be a really great thing to be after being an Artistic Director.
Interview by Tyler Campbell.