What is your name?
And where are you from?
I’m originally from a town in northern Idaho called Moscow.
Moscow, like Moscow, in Russia?
Yeah, spelled the same.
Cool! So you live in NYC now? And when did you move to NYC?
Well, I came to NYC for college, so in 2000 when I graduated from high school. I left for three years to do grad work at the Iowa Playwrights Workshop program, and then I came back right after that.
Where did you go to undergrad?
NYU, for Dramatic Writing
So what have you been working on here at SPACE?
It’s a new play that I don’t know the title of yet, and I’m only 20 pages into it so far…
Did you write the 20 pages here?
I did, yeah. And I don’t know a lot about it yet but I had the idea for the framework of it about a month and a half ago, over the summer. I haven’t actually had the time to sit down and get a good start at it. So it’s been nice over the past couple of days to do that.
Great! Would you mind telling us a little about it?
Well, I don’t know a lot about it yet, but I know it’s about a group of missionaries and it’s all set in the basement of an evangelical church. It’s about the lead up for all these missionaries, who are about to go to the Middle East to proselytize, and they’re sort of in training. So that’s the basic frame of it.
That sounds awesome. What gave you the inspiration for it?
I don’t know what exactly the jumping off point was, but I am really interested in religion in America and fundamentalism especially. I’m really interested in this phenomenon where young, perhaps naive American kids, in sort of middle-of-the-country states, going overseas and proselytizing. It’s almost this form of western expansion and cultural dominance, but it’s framed in this way where they are just trying to do good—they firmly believe that what they’re doing is helping people, and I’m interested in that dynamic.
That is very cool, very interesting. What do you typically like to write about? Do you have topics or ideas you typically go towards, or is it sort of just what comes to you at that time in your life?
I think lately, for the last several years, the plays have been all in really simple, daily, banal settings—like almost oppressively banal. But the ideas in the plays are the opposite of that. They’re operatic and big—ideas about faith and human connection, and empathy.
I was hearing over a meal, that you were in the Berkshires this summer, were you at Williamstown?
Yeah, I had a show at Williamstown called A Great Wilderness, on the Nikos stage. I lived there pretty much the whole summer, and I had a wonderful experience. I had been there before, I wrote the fellowship play for one of the non-equity shows, but it was great being back.
Is this your first time at SPACE?
No, this is my 3rd or 4th or 5th actually.
Wow! Cool. Do you have any crazy stories or differences between the times that stick out to you?
It’s just been so cool seeing the organization expand. Every time I come here something about it has been a little bit bigger. Like now they have Kay Hall, which wasn’t open the last time I was here. And the room that I’m staying in, the Ambrose room, the first time I stayed in that room, the shower didn’t work, they were still just working on opening the house. So it’s just so cool and moving to see the organization flourish like this.
Great! Yeah, it’s very cool. Well, fun question: have you found a favorite spot on the farm?
I feel like every single time I’ve been here I’ve gone to a different place, but one place I love going is the dock. And the lake—just bringing a notebook there and writing. I’ll probably do that before I leave today.
Yeah, it’s such a good place. Have you been in the canoe and on the water?
No I haven’t done that actually.
Oh, you should do that! You should go in the canoe and write in the middle of the water. I love it out there.
Any other specifics or places that you have found before that you love? Anything stick out?
What I love about this place is the loose structure of the day, the meals and the social time built in, and the food is so wonderful. It’s just so simple and unfettered, you can just work at your own pace. It’s just the ideal writing retreat, for me at least.
Well, I think many people would agree.
Interviewed by Julia Schonberg.