Q: You are a former Literary Apprentice yourself. What have you been up to since your stay in Louisville?
A: After my apprentice year, I moved to New York, where I had a long series of day jobs, I wrote when I could, and I went to the theatre all the time. I was there for about three years before I decided I really wanted to go to graduate school for playwriting – and I knew that I wanted to do that outside of New York. I went to University of California – San Diego and finished my M.F.A. in 2016. This year I’m in Minneapolis in residence at the Playwrights’ Center as a Jerome Fellow.
Q: What lessons did you take away from your apprenticeship?
A: I hadn’t met a professional playwright before I came to Actors Theatre—I didn’t see that as a path that was possible for me. I joke that I didn’t know people were still writing plays until I was in my early 20s – but it’s mostly true. When I was a senior in college, a professor recognized my interest in new work and sent me a link to an application for the Actors Theatre of Louisville Apprentice/Intern program. I came to the apprentice program knowing only that I liked reading, watching, and talking about plays, and I left with an understanding that I wanted to be a playwright, and a much better sense of how to begin. It was really a game-changer for me. I also met collaborators and cohorts who continue to be important to me, including my grad school mentor and friend Deborah Stein.
Q: This isn’t your first time writing for the New Play Project. What’s it like crafting a piece with the Professional Training Company in mind?
A: I love this project. It’s energizing to have the certainty of an immediate production looking over my shoulder while I’m writing a first draft and it’s really helpful to have specific voices in mind when I begin. It’s a unique and wonderful opportunity to get a second shot working on the same type of project with some of the same people. The most important thing I changed this year was that I asked the incoming apprentices a lot more questions about themselves before I started writing this year and was able to include some of their personal details in the script. Last year I discovered so many amazing things about the actors in my piece when we were celebrating the end of the project.
Q: Where do you draw your inspiration to write?
A: I draw inspiration from canonical writers and other writing forms – I’ve been thinking about Thornton Wilder a lot lately and it shows in this play. I draw inspiration from my family and personal experiences that make me feel something big. I often start with a specific stage picture in mind – for every every minute, I was thinking about a moment when the seven people in the play would be spread apart in the seats of the theater, eating a donut.
Q: every every minute is staged in the Victor Jory Theatre, but the space is utilized in a way that may surprise audiences. How do you think using an unconventional space to tell the story will impact the piece?
A: The Professional Training Company spends so much time backstage and on the stage that I thought it would be fun to give them a chance to sit in the house. The drama in the play isn’t on the stage; it’s in the seats, and I hope that flipping the normal orientation of audience to actors will create an intimate theatrical space for these characters who are engaged in mostly private conflicts with themselves and each other.
Q: Any words of wisdom you’d like to share for our current Professional Training Company members?
A: It’s a really special time in your life when you have the resources to satisfy any curiosity you have about how a major regional theater works – so ask all of your questions. And catch up on your sleep before Humana Festival rehearsals begin… but I’m sure everyone tells you that.
Catch Emily Feldman’s heartfelt new work, every every minute in the Victor Jory Theatre September 26 and 27. Reserve your tickets today.