What is your name? Where are you from?
My name is Jeff Augustin. I’m from Miami, Florida; beachy, boring Miami.
What is the project you are working on at SPACE?
I am working on a Sloan commission from Manhattan Theatre Club. It’s funny because it takes place entirely on a farm. It’s really nice to just look out and imagine these people. I mean, there are scenes that take place on a porch and I’m here, writing, on a porch. It’s about this young woman who is a bio-engineer working for this company similar to Monsanto. She has engineered these “golden rice seeds”, rice seeds that have vitamins and nutrients in them. She emigrated from Haiti when she was about 10, so she goes back there to her family farm, which her sister is now running. She asks her sister if she can plant these seeds and her sister says no, and she plants them anyway, and it destroys the land. She has this real belief of why she would do this. Ultimately, it’s a family drama; her mother comes back, her sister never got papers to immigrate, and it’s this whole thing about foreigners, and the idea of being a foreigner, coming from outside and thinking you know what a country needs and how you can help it.
Where have you been spending most of your time at SPACE?
In the mornings, because it’s really sunny, I’m usually on the front porch in the rocking chair. Weirdly, it’s been a dream of mine to write in a rocking chair, so that’s been fulfilled. In the afternoons, I move to the back porch, which is very nice.
Writing about a farm at SPACE has been really great. This is my first time on a farm, and the way that I write is very visual, almost cinematic, so it’s been very helpful to be able to look out and feel the atmosphere. The other day it was very dry and dusty, so without realizing it, that became a part of my stage directions. It’s also so quiet here, and I’m realizing the play is a lot quieter than I thought it was. It has been wonderful. As I’m writing scenes in the farmhouse, I’m imagining this farmhouse.
What’s coming up next for you and your project?
This play is for Manhattan Theatre Club, so when it is done we’ll do a reading, then I will get notes and probably have to write another draft.
If you were reincarnated as a farm animal, what farm animal would you be and why?
I would probably be a horse. I’m more thinking about the horses on this farm. They do their thing. They chill. They eat their grass. I’m all about that, I’m like, “you do you, boo-boo.” So, yeah, I’m a horse.
interviewed by Matt McAlister.