Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Playwright Alexandra Collier on Her New Play The Crying Lettuce with terraNOVA Groundworks New Play Series

Playwright Alexandra Collier
"I am obsessed with travel, dislocation and foreign locations."
-Alexandra Collier

What is your play about?

The Crying Lettuce is about Ivy, who is backpacking in Europe where she should be having the time of her life but she’s not. Until she meets Anna that is, an anarchic Russian chain smoking gypsy. What starts between traverses continents and decades in this memory-gone-bad play.
*No vegetables were harmed in the making of this play*

What was its inspiration?

Life. Always. Well sort of. I traveled to Copenhagen in my early 20s and I encountered a homeless chain-smoking woman in my dorm room. I was lonely and out-of-place in this foreign city and when I started to write this play, I imagined from there what would have happened if the two women became friends. (Which the homeless chain smoker and I did not. One of life's greatest regrets.) I am obsessed with travel, dislocation and foreign locations and all of those things are rolled into this play.

What has its development been up to this point?

I have been developing it since January with Groundbreakers - terraNova's playwrights group. Before that the play had been kicking around in a metaphoric drawer since I started writing it at a silent
Director Jessi D. Hill
retreat a few years back.

How do you like to develop your work?

In a fast and furious way. With actors in a room, ideally. Even more ideally with actors standing up in a room and a potential production in the offing (i.e. rehearsals). I like to do rewrites quickly and efficiently based on the actors reactions/reading of the text. That's honestly the best way to work, I think. Less precious. More fun.

How do you like to work with your directors?

I like directors who understand that I am not a plotty writer. Who are interested in the weird and theatrical rather than living room sitcom type plays. I think it's best when you feel safe enough with the director to be laughing and having fun in the room. Of course, it takes time to build up the best kinds of working relationships.

Collier's Workspace
Salty or sweet?

SWEET. Licorice, ideally.

What is your writing schedule (if any) and where do you write?

At the moment, I work full-time so I try to write for an hour before I go to work and I write on the weekends.

What's next?

I am working on another play - Underland (set in the Aussie desert) - we hope to have a production in 2015. I am currently scheming about my next installation piece to take place inside a museum. That's all I can say right now.

Alexandra Collier's The Crying Lettuce is directed by Jessi D. Hill and is presented on Tuesday, June 10th, at 3pm at The Cherry Lane Studio Theatre, 38 Commerce Street (west of 7th Avenue). Subways: 1 to Christopher Street, A/B/C/D/E/F to West 4th.  $10 suggested donation at the door.

The Crying Lettuce is part of  terraNOVA Collective's Groundworks New Play Series which runs June 9th – 23rd.  For more information, visit www.terraNOVAcollective.org

The 2014 Groundworks New Play Series features the 6 new plays developed through the 2014 Groundbreakers Playwrights Group, and 2 new soloNOVA ARTS Workshops. This year’s playwrights work has been produced or developed with numerous prestigious theatres including The Public, Joe’s Pub, New York Theatre Workshop, The Old Vic, Roundabout Theatre Company, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Edward F. Albee Foundation, Sundance Theatre Lab and Lincoln Center.

ABOUT GROUNDWORKS: Every year, terraNOVA Collective presents the Groundworks New Play Series - a week of staged readings of work developed through our Groundbreakers Playwrights Group, and new work being developed by solo performance artists associated with our collective. The purpose of the New Play Series is to give playwrights an opportunity to have their work seen and heard by a larger audience. Each playwright works with a director and professional actors over a 12-hour rehearsal period to give further life to their work.

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