After 35 years of promoting and advancing the Bay Area theatre and dance community, we've touched a lot of people—and a lot of people have touched us. Today’s honoree: playwright Rajiv Joseph, winner of this year’s Glickman Award.
Who are you? Can you give a little bit of background about how you got to where you are today?
My name is Rajiv Joseph. I grew up in Cleveland, attended Miami University in Ohio, and then went to the Peace Corps in Senegal for three years. I always wanted to write, but didn't know what I was going to write—fiction or non-fiction? But I ended up attending NYU for an MFA in dramatic writing, and found my way into writing for the theatre.
What is your history with the Bay Area theatre community?
TheatreWorks brought me to Palo Alto to workshop The North Pool a few years ago. And since then, they have been great supporters of me and the play. I really value my relationship with TheatreWorks and feel so lucky that a theatre in this region took an interest in a play of mine. Besides that, I was able to come out to San Francisco a few years ago to see a fantastic production of my play "Animals Out of Paper" at the SF Playhouse, which is another theatre in the area I really love.
You are being honored particularly as the Will Glickman Award winner for the world premiere production of your play, "The North Pool." Please tell us about your experience developing "The North Pool" and having it produced at TheatreWorks.
I began this play a long time ago, but could never figure out the exact structure of the play, or the places I wanted to go with it. It fluctuated between having two characters, to three, to six and then back to two. And it used to have many scenes, but when TheatreWorks brought me in for their summer workshop, I decided I wanted to make the play just one scene. This was a particularly radical undertaking. And that week in Palo Alto was instrumental in creating the play that now exists.
Every play has its own unique path of development. If you try to rush something that doesn't want to be rushed, it's going to end up in a bad place. What I love about the attitude over at TheatreWorks is they have patience and they trust the writer. It's no accident that so many exciting new works come out of that theatre.
Why is theatre important? What do you think keeps it a vital part of civilization?
Storytelling is simply one of the things that make us human beings. And storytelling exists in almost every facet of life. What makes theatre particularly powerful is the fact that it is performed live, in front of a living, breathing audience. And the audience, in sitting quietly and watching a drama unfold before them, is participating in a unique form of meditation. I think this experience is peculiar enough that it can sometimes effect a sort of change within people. It may even be unconscious. Whatever it is, the theatre survives because of it.
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Playwright Rajiv Joseph, winner of this year’s Will Glickman Award for best play premiering in the Bay Area.
Photo: Mark Kitaoka
35 Years, 35 Faces: Rajiv Joseph by / Theatre Bay Area StaffPublished 2012-04-05
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