What is your full name and where are you from?
My name is Abe Koogler and I’m from Vashon Island, near Seattle.
What is the project you are working on at SPACE?
I’m in the very early stages of writing a new play, so I’m doing a lot of reading and a lot of thinking and scribbling down notes. I’m reading this book by a man named Paul Kingsnorth who runs something called the Dark Mountain Project. He was a really active environmentalist, then he decided to move to the woods and start his own self-sufficient little cabin with his family. He thinks we are at the end of a certain type of human civilization, and he’s trying to figure out what stories we should be telling ourselves and writing about, given what he believes to be that reality. So I think there’s something in my play about someone who is a deeply committed environmentalist. That’s all I know so far. I’ve been reading a lot of plays that are classics that I love, just trying to figure out their structure and how they work. And I’ve been about ideas around deep ecology and what our responsibilities are as members of this society in this moment. The characters haven’t come to me yet. I’m smoking them out.
What is your process when you begin to write a play?
I’m very un-precious about revising and cutting and I do it brutally, but when it comes to starting a play I’m very mystical about it or precious about it or whatever word you want to use. I get a sense of the broader ideas I want to think about. That’s the first step. Then I start thinking about the location where something might take place. Usually my plays have a really strong sense of place. One play took place in Santa Fe. One took place on the island I come from. So I have to get the ideas and location and then usually after that the characters come to me. There’s a lot of waiting involved.
Where have you been spending most of your time?
I’ve been spending a lot of my time here on this back porch (Kay Hall). I like it because you can see the pond and hear the frogs at night and it’s very green. Today I spent a lot of time in the Kay Hall Garage which I liked. I worked in there with Ama for awhile.
What is your usual workspace when you’re writing?
I have a little desk in my room right next to my bed which is why it’s so great to be at SPACE, because my room in New York very cramped. Time of day is more important to me than location. All my good stuff comes before noon, so I try to block out as much time as I can before noon. It’s easier to get up early in the country, because it’s easier to go to bed early. I love that. That’s harder in the city.
Do you handwrite or type?
I feel like the two types of writing produce different types of work. I like to type because I can outpace my conscious mind. I like the rhythm of pounding instead of sweeping. So I like to type.
What is it like being out on the farm?
My whole body feels more relaxed which means I can think. It’s hard to think in the city sometimes. In my regular life, I have to plan what I’m going to have for lunch and where I have to be that afternoon. So just to be here and take walks in nature and not have to worry about what I’m going to eat later is wonderful, because it frees up my mind to think about different things.
So what is coming up for you and your project?
Well I have several more books I need to read. Then probably by the time I leave here in two days I’m going to try and force myself to start writing and see if anything’s there yet. Hopefully some characters will come to me. I have a couple commissions due so this is probably one of those commissions. I don’t have much lined up other than writing. I don’t have any immediate productions in the future.
If you were reincarnated as a farm animal what would you be? And why?
Can I be an owl? Are there owls here? I want to be an owl because they’re watchful and quiet but fierce predators. I don’t know what that means about me. They’re soft too. They can move their heads in lots of different directions. They have cute babies!
Interview by Tyler Campbell.