Interview: Deborah Zoe Laufer

Posted on May 15, 2013

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LauferWhere are you from originally? Where are you living now?
I grew up in Liberty, NY – the Catskills. Now I’m living outside NYC.

What first drew you to a life in the theatre and playwriting, in particular?
I was an actor for 15 years, did some standup. Then, when I was pregnant with my first son I realized being out every night wasn’t going to work. Writing stand-up gave me courage to try to write a play. I did, and I was hooked.

What is the first play you ever wrote and has it been produced?
That first play was called MINIATURES, (an hour-long one act) and I got to perform in it with the theater company I belonged to in NYC, Polaris North. It was the thrill of my life. It was produced at a few small theaters after that, including the Wedge at the Hangar Theater in Ithaca.

What or who has inspired you?
I wanted to act from the time I was four, and was reading “The Best Play” books as soon as I could read. I revered those playwrights so much growing up that I never thought I could write a play. It still surprises me. I’m in a few writers groups (Ok, four) and I’m constantly inspired by my friends’ work. I love being around playwrights. I love being around anyone who wants to make theater pretty much.

What was the initial inspiration for the play being workshopped at PlayPenn?
Informed Consent is a Sloan Commission — I enjoy writing about scientific because the research is fascinating and it makes me ask the big questions that I usually have no solid answers for. I’m drawn to that place where science and religion bump up uncomfortably against each other. When I read about the court case between the Havasupai and Arizona State U. I knew there would be a play in it.

Why did you decide to apply to PlayPenn, and what do you hope to get out of the conference?
Several of my friends have been to PlayPenn and raved about it, so I’ve wanted to go for years. I’ve been to the O’Neill twice. Two of the best, most productive summers of my life. The one-week intense workshop was exactly what those plays needed. This play is different from anything else I’ve ever written – breaking form – the structure mirrors the content, and needs to feel somewhat improvisatory and playful. It will really benefit from the input of actors and Sean Daniels, my director. The two-week model, with time between rehearsals to write seems ideal. I’m so lucky.

What’s the most interesting job you’ve worked while trying to support yourself as a writer?
Well, trying to support myself as an actor I scooped ice cream, sold office supplies by phone, managed an on-line database for the plastics industry (PLASPEC!), read depositions, and temped at dozens and dozens of offices.

If you could change anything about the American theatre, what would it be?
More productions. More new plays. More plays by women. More plays by me.

Complete this sentence: I write plays because…
It’s how I figure out what I think and feel about being human. I love plays. I love theater. I love people who work in the theater. I love collaborating. Mainly, theater is really the only thing I can do, (aside from plastics).

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