Scratching with Indie Theatre Now
Do you ever write about the people you grew up with (family, friends) and how have these people and the place where you grew up influenced your work?
My work is almost entirely influenced by my childhood in the South. I grew up in a small town about an hour outside of Atlanta, GA. My teenage years were spent on the backs of pickup trucks drinking cheap beer around bond fires. There's nothing I regret about growing up Southern, but I did feel the need to leave for New York in order to escape some of the more unpleasant aspects of that culture. In terms of writing about the people I know, I don't write from autobiography. Rather, I try to take the spirit and essence of the people I grew up around... my family, my closest friends etc.. and portray Southern conflicts in a critical, yet empathetic light. "Scratching" in particular, is my response to the melding of worlds- That is the metropolitan and the rural, demonstrating how those world-views collide. The play is partially about how we are tied to places, like it or not. The spirit of home is something I believe we can't escape from. This play is about the conflict between isolation versus intimacy, in addition to aspiration and failure seen through the lens of millenial characters who are fighting to survive in the blue collar South.
Why is it important for you to be a writer as opposed to any other profession?
This is a cliche, but I feel like there's nothing else I can do. I've always written, but I planned on becoming a lawyer when I started college. After a horrible Summer interning for the GA Governor's office, I realized that I wanted nothing to do with that world. I started writing plays my sophomore year of college and I guess it became more or less an addiction. Taking a risk in order to move to New York to get my MFA in Playwriting wasn't an easy choice, but it's one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life.
What do you do when you are not working on a play (your hobbies, interests, theater related activities, teaching, etc.)?
When I'm not working on plays, I'm watching cheesy horror movies from the 80s, socializing, and exploring New York. I'm super interested in True Crime. There's also something really incredible about the group of young theater artists in the city. The Flea, Ars Nova, and EST are hubs for work that gets me jazzed. I also work as a tutor in History, Political Science, Writing, and English Lit.
Are there things in this play that have happened to you or to others you know?
The title "Scratching" comes from a term used in the tattoo community– Scratcher. A scratcher is someone who tattoos illegally, usually with terrible results. I know several licensed tattoo artists back home who gave me an entry into that world, letting me shadow them while researching the play. In terms of the events of the play... Very little actually occurred. The few things that did, I'll keep to myself.
What is it about live theater that attracts you most, that keeps you revved and jazzed to work in this form?
It's fast, its communal, and it's REAL. You can do things in theater that you can't do in any other art form. When I saw Adam Rapp's "Wolf in the River", we sat on stools in the round with a huge pile of dirt in the middle. Actors strung a rope over the audience. An actor crawled across the rope above a ravenous group of wolves. There's no other art form that can do that.