On Playwriting: My Interview with Adam Szymkowicz

I’m happy to have been interviewed by fellow playwright Adam Szymkowicz, whose remarkable blog details the work and lives of American Playwrights.

Q:  Tell me about The Xylophone West.

A:  Often, the desire to explore a certain relationship will inspire me to begin a new play. With The Xylophone West, I wanted explore the unbreakable bond between two boys growing up in rural Nebraska- a relationship that, for most of their community, is too close for comfort.

I wasn’t interested in creating a clear-cut relationship; one defined as distinctly ‘a friendship’ or ‘a gay relationship’. They’re 14-year-old-boys. I don’t think they know what to call it themselves; they only know it’s good. And I think there’s a lot of truth in relationships and ideas when we’re younger. There’s more honesty in the world’s lack of definition at that age. It’s only when we get older that we start forcing ourselves into boxes: “I’m this, she’s that. We fit neatly into these categories.” I think life is more nuanced than that and it’s something I explore in my writing.

Halfway into the first draft I discovered a Mark Twain quote– “It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.” That fascinated me and informed the rest of my process. I think it rings especially true in today’s world.

The interview runs the gamut from The Xylophone West to Tom Waits. To check out the full interview on Szymkowicz’s blog, click here.

Great New Review in Chicago Reader!

The Xylophone West is RECOMMENDED by Chicago Reader:

“Maybe the national discourse surrounding antigay bullying would be more constructive if we dropped the schoolyard term and called it what it actually is: abuse. Alex Lubischer’s confrontational and unnerving new drama helps to bridge that vernacular gap by lifting the stakes to where they should be.”

To check out the full review, click here.

New “Xylophone” Review + Photo

The Xylophone West opens this Friday!

We received this 5-star review on Goldstar.com from a preview audience member:

We took our 12-year-old and twin 11 year-olds to a preview Sunday night and they are still talking about it. My wife and I loved the story, acting and staging. The night before we sat through a torturous Camino Real at the Goodman. Xylophone West was a thousand times better. The drama was real and we felt badly for Patrick, Shane and even the bully. We’re telling our friends to see it and take their kids.

Hit up Goldstar.com to purchase your own discounted tickets for opening weekend!
http://www.goldstar.com/events/chicago-il/the-xylophone-west

Inciting Incident

We talk about inciting incidents when we talk about dramatic writing. What launches the journey of the protagonist? What sets them off down the road that will ultimately (hopefully) lead to resolution? When writing a play I have the luxury of knowing the ending before I get there, or at least the gist of one. Life, particularly the future, is unknowable, which makes it scary and surreal in a way that fiction rarely achieves.

In the past year I have lived in three states spanning 3,000 miles of this country. I started 2011 in Los Angeles, generally stuck and artistically unfulfilled, fled east for a summer of bliss writing and working at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, and settled in Chicago this past fall to confront the next phase of my life as a twenty-something artist.

I feel now that I can call myself a playwright, at least, without reservation. My play, The Xylophone West, is opening a week from today in Chicago at Red Tape Theatre on Belmont and Broadway. (I’m sure anyone who’s followed me on facebook is well aware of this, as I’ve been relentlessly posting updates for the past month-plus. Thank you for your continued interest- the badgering will soon cease!) At home in Chicago, I’ve finally found a place where I can carry on the struggle to write truthfully and live honestly.

This is largely due to the wealth of selfless artists laboring in this city. I’ve had the good fortune to work with a number of them on this upcoming production, and every one has reinforced my no-longer-theoretical belief that playwriting is a collaborative art form. There is nothing more humbling than rehearsing in a crowded room above a Baptist Church, of all places, and as an actor instinctively misquotes one of your lines you realize he’s brought it closer to the truth than you alone could have ever managed. Or a director revealing the power beneath your words as he creates -before your eyes- what you had believed to be an un-stageable scene.

Many incidents have led me to this city and this moment in my life, most of them personal or artistic and probably nonsensical. With any luck, the work I’ve done on Xylophone and its premiere production with Fine Print Theatre Co. will be the inciting incident for the next act of my career; a first step towards an indeterminate resolution.