Behind the Pineapple with Samantha Charlip

Hey there FRESHIES!

This week we are gearing up for our November show on Thursday (11/21 @8pm Downstairs at the Drama Bookshop)

We have a great lineup planned for you and do hope that you join us!

But let’s look back and see what October playwright Samantha Charlip is all about!

Last month Ms. Charlip shared with us her hilarious piece FUTURAMA. This lady is quite the talent and we were lucky enough to get in on the ground floor with her.

FPNYC: Samantha! Tell us how did you get into playwrighting?

SC: My first stint in theatre was at age six when I was cast as a chorus member in a very trippy version of Pirates of Penzance. I had to wear a two-piece bathing suit and do a big production number with about twenty other little girls. The night of the production I was running a high fever but got dressed anyway, telling my mother “the show must go on” and – t-shirt under my bathing suit to prevent fever chills –gave the most dedicated performance of my life. That’s when I knew theatre was for me.

Playwriting came later after years of performing arts high school and drama camp convinced me my talents were better served constructing stories rather than performing them. I moved to New York to study prose and poetry writing at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, but theatre was always there in the back of my mind, remerging when I began graduate school for Dramatic Writing at Tisch.

Theatre is funny that way. It’s kind of like a crazy ex. You just can’t get away from it! Plus I love the way a theater smells. Just brings me right back home.

FPNYC: Can you tell us about your process? How ideas get turned into shows?

SC: Oh god. I feel like every writer dreads this question. The process is so overwhelming, so emotionally taxing, but ultimately filled with immense joy when everything finally comes together.

For me, writing plays is different from any other type of writing I do. Ideas usually come to me from things I see: a man ironing business shirts at a laundry mat, a teenage girl hanging out the walk-up window at a boardwalk ice cream shop, a piece of interesting bathroom graffiti. From there, I take a lot of notes, write down a lot of random phrases. And then once a theme develops, my mind kind of does this thing where dialogue and events and pieces of trivia from my life and out in the world all collect around this idea like moths to a flame. And somehow all that finds its way into the play.

FPNYC: What is your biggest artistic inspiration?

SC: When I was a kid and afraid of the dark, my parents always used to put on Hairspray (the John Waters version) for me to watch. I must’ve seen that movie eighty-five times. Something about Divine in a dress and full pancake makeup was spiritually soothing to me. I think that says a lot.
But I also love anything tragic, just a little bizarre, a little intellectually off. I find there’s a truth, a real humanity in the pieces of life that get no fanfare, in earnest but socially backwards worlds where slightly-below-average people are struggling to be better, to have better.
And then you know there’s of course my personal inspirations, my artistic mentors and I’d say my top three are: master of the southern gothic Flannery O’Connor, minimalist short story writer Amy Hempel and magical Brooklyn Brahman and playwriting spirit animal Annie Baker.

FPNYC: How did Futurama come to be?

SC: Futurama started out as a five minute scene for a project based on Suzan-Lori Parks 365 Days / 365 Plays, but really it started as an idea for a short story where a guy in kind of crappy Goofy-imitation costume at a shitty amusement park participates in a wedding proposal where the girl says no.
I had broken up with my former fiancé after seven years and I was in this weird headspace where you sort of can’t move beyond that point in your life that no longer exists and it becomes how do you get out of that, how do you move on.
And then I thought about this park, this amusement park, that’s kind of like a failed relationship, built for a future that no longer exists, but yet it’s still there, just kind of decaying and rusting out and what happens there. Who works there and why and what are their lives like.
Annie (Baker) was actually my professor while I was working on this project and I was just so incredibly inspired by The Aliens and the way that it kind of represents a generation – a generation in blissful decline. And I realized after I wrote Futurama that I had also tried to write about my generation, our myopic me-me-me thinking, but also this sense of undaunted idealism for a world that we did not grow up in, a better world that we’re always hoping is right around the corner.

FPNYC: Where do you see the show going next?

SC: One day I hope Futurama goes up at Playwrights Horizons. Lofty goals.
In the meantime, I’ve got a ten-minute play in Piney Fork Theater’s Playwriting Festival at Alvin Ailey that I’ve yet to find a director for (help!) and Futurama is being workshopped again with Sanctuary Theatre, probably next month. And from there, I’m taking over the world!

Thanks so much for sharing your talents with us Samantha! We look forward to seeing your career take off, as it inevitably will!

Stay tuned my lovely pineapples as we have two more interviews coming your way this week. November playwrights Max Mondi and Jerry Polner will be sharing the ins and outs of their life as playwrights in NYC! You don’t want to miss it!

And don’t for get to join us 11/21 @8pm for our November show! Details can be found here


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