Carson Kreitzer, recently in the ITR for her play Enchantment, won last year’s Lark PONY Fellowship, a position much desired by playwrights across the country. As a PONY Fellow, Carson gained a fabulous New York Apartment free of rent for one year and $25,000. As a result, she’s had time to focus on her writing career, which is now taking off.
In an exclusive interview on the PF Blog, we asked her about her writing and about how her Fellowship has helped her. This is what she said:
PF: You're the inaugural winner of the Lark's PONY fellowship - a prize to make any playwright salivate. How has that experience been so far?
Incredible. The time to think and write and really dedicate your life solely to your craft is an astounding luxury for a playwright, and to be able to do so in New York City, with its overabundance of theatrical opportunities and the toughest economic climate we've got, borders on the insane. I had to pinch myself every morning for about half the year, and now am sliding directly into dread that it will soon be over, and I will have to return to the real world, where this kind of thing never happens. But it's an experience I will carry with me forever. Without a doubt, this has been the most productive year of my life, and has set a very high bar for how much of my life should be dedicated to writing, to seeing, to being in the theater.
PF: While not documentary theater, your work often draws on historical figures or real life events. What draws you to a specific topic? What makes a person or event intriguing to you subject for a theatrical work?
I'm a theatrical magpie. I'm attracted to shiny things. I have to pick them up and turn them over and see how they work. What makes an event or a person "shiny" really varies a great deal. There is just some catch, something that makes me stop what I'm doing and stare. Often, there is some central mystery that I can't figure out, that inspires me to look closer and deeper for a very long time. I don't write plays quickly, so when I hit on a new subject, I know I'm going to be living in that world for at least a year or two, often longer. It's got to be something that will keep me intrigued, keep me thirsty to know more, for a very long time.
PF: You've been a bit of an itinerant playwright over the past few years, how do the theatre scenes differ in the different cities you've lived in? What's it like to be back in New York?
Minneapolis has great support, which is what brings many playwrights there in the first place, and an incredibly varied and vibrant theatrical community. I was delighted to find that "real people" go to the theater, not just theater people. And they will show up in the most outrageous snowstorms! But not in the summer. Minnesotans take their outdoors time very seriously, and woe betide you if you're trying to fill a house on a gorgeous summer day when the sun won't set until 9pm. Like many playwrights, I came to Minneapolis through the Playwrights Center, on a Jerome Fellowship. And once there, I found a home with Frank Theater, and now the Workhaus Playwrights Collective, and I fell in love. So that's where I'm calling home these days, though I still feel very much like a New Yorker. Austin is super-cool (and hot) and scrappy, with some fantastic companies doing amazing work, like the Rude Mechs, Salvage Vanguard, and Physical Plant. And of course the best margaritas. And New York just has the most goddamn theater per square foot of anywhere in the world, or at least that's what it feels like when you're there. It's fantastic, and exhausting, trying to keep up. And when you see those shows that change the way you think about what is possible onstage, those shows that will stay in your brain for the rest of your life-- that's what it's all about. You can see those shows in Minneapolis and Austin, too. Just not quite as often.
PF: What's up next for you?
Taking advantage of the time I've got left in New York! Then back to Minneapolis and my lovely (and talented) lighting-designer boyfriend. After seeing theater probably five nights a week all year (often more often than that), I may be ready for a slightly more human pace.