Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Interview with a Playwright: Phillip Howze

The 2015 Season of Rough Readings has arrived, and with it comes five exceptional stories this Winter. Over the next few months, we will be presenting audiences with up-close and personal readings of new plays in early draft form. 

The January Rough Reading features tiny boyfriend, a new work by the incredible Phillip Howze. I had the opportunity to ask him a few quick questions to share  -- keep checking back to find more playwright insight!
Phillip Howze

Rachel Finkelstein: Thanks for the interview! You have a remarkable background, including two years as an educator at the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon, Burma. In what ways, if any, did your time in Rangoon impact your work as a playwright?

Phillip Howze: In a word: significantly. But I don’t think anyone could be abroad for so many years without having that affect their life and work in some meaningful way, whether good or bad. Being expatriate certainly affected James Baldwin, and Gertrude Stein, and George Orwell. Throughout my life I’ve experienced some acute moments of displacement. So much of my work is rooted in statelessness as a form.

RF: I can imagine. This is such an intimate play, yet it touches on many overarching issues. Does this "global intimacy" influence the themes of any of your other works?

PH: I don’t know about global, possibly yes, but I like the word intimate because it implies the personal which I am very interested in. Like many writers my work is concerned with story, character and form more than anything else. There’s an aspect of the personal and the political in this play and in much of what I write, but that’s more to do with wanting to be brave and honest. I don’t write with a social agenda other than a desire to see these stories and characters, who are too often absent from the American theater, finally brought to our attention.

RF: Absolutely! To wrap up, do you have any interesting anecdotes about the process of writing tiny boyfriend that you would like to share?

PH: Whether we like to admit it or not, at some point in life we all thought love was an impossible ambition. This play is delightful and strange, but it emerged out of a lot of grief and rage. There's a deceptive grace that's been an interesting challenge figuring out how to craft.

RF: Thank you so much for sharing with us!

The Rough Reading Series is Pay What You Can, and opens with "tiny boyfriend" by Phillip Howze, playing January 26 at 7:30pm at 424 Santa Teresa, Stanford University, and January 27th at 7pm at the Tides Theatre, San Francisco. 

Read more about "tiny boyfriend", Phillip Howze, and the Rough Reading Series at Playwrightsfoundation.orgSave a Seat with an RSVP! Email or call 415.626.2176.