In preparation for Hands Up: 6 Playwrights, 6 Testaments, which is being presented by ArtsCenter Stage and Common Ground Theatre with the support of MOJOAA Perfoming Arts Company and in conjunction with the Ladies of the Triangle Theatre (LoTT), I had a chance to speak with playwright Nathan Yungerberg, author of “Holes in My Identity”, about his writing process, inspiration for the play, and the power of theatre to serve as a tool for social change. Please enjoy this wonderful interview!
Jacqueline Lawton: Why did you decide to get into theatre? Was there someone or a particular show that inspired you?
Nathan Yungerberg: I was inspired to start writing plays about six years ago. I had relocated to NYC from Minneapolis about four years prior to that and the energy of the city and the expansive artistic influence started banging on my front door!
JL: Next, tell me a little bit about your writing process. Do you have any writing rituals? Do you write in the same place or in different places?
NY: Typically, I spend several months just living with the characters and letting them rise up within me. I then spend some time creating an image book. I spend hours on Google images, saving hundreds of pictures and symbols that resonate with each character. I then cut those images out and paste them into a book, when I am done I start writing. I am a morning writer, I like to write a coffee shops. I will usually sit for 3 hours a day when I am in my process.
JL: Why was it important for you to be a part of the New Black Fest’s Hands Up: 6 Playwrights, 6 Testaments?
NY: The tension in the air is so thick at this moment in time and there needed to be a release.
JL: Tell me about your play. What do you hope the audience walks away thinking about after experiencing it?
NY: I was adopted and raised by white parents in a predominantly white community so I present a perspective of a black man who was sheltered from the experience of racial profiling. I have had to find a way to listen and acknowledge the racial experiences of my black friends and peers that are beyond my personal reality. I hope that people will leave with the desire to become better listeners and work hard to not dismiss the experiences of others.
JL: What role does theater have in advocacy work?
NY: One of the other writers said it best at a talkback in NYC; he said that theater is an important tool because you go to sit and listen. In emotionally charged times like this, with never ending conversations that often end in gridlock, theater is helpful because sometimes people just need to sit, listen and absorb another person’s perspective.
JL: What next for you as a writer? Where can we follow your work?
NY: I am in the middle of my very first production of my play called Pousada Azul, which is being presented at the Kraine Theater in NYC by The Fire This Time Festival. I have recently defected from social media but you can find about my happenings at www.nathanyungerberg.com
About Nathan Yungerberg
Nathan Yungerberg lives between Brooklyn and Oakland. His plays: The Son of
Dawn and Pousada Azul have had readings at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, The Lorraine Hansberry Theater and Z Below in San Francisco, The National Black Theater, Classical Theater of Harlem and the Blackboard Reading Series in NYC. Nathan was a season 4 playwright for The Fire This Time festival, which featured his ten minute play Orchids and Polka Dots. He participated in the 3rd annual 48 Hours in Harlem Festival with his ten minute play Brush Strokes, which went on to the win the third annual Ken Davenport 10 minute play festival in NYC.
HANDS UP: 6 Playwrights, 6 Testaments
Written by Dennis Allen, Idris Goodwin, Glenn Gordon, Eric Holmes, Nathan James, and Nathan Yungerberg
Directed by Monet Noelle Marshall
Dramaturgy by Jules Odendahl-James and Jacqueline E. Lawton
Featuring Malcolm Evans, Kenny Lampkin, Jordan Marshall, Justin Peoples, CJ Suitt and Marcus Zollicoffer
Stage Manager: JaMeeka Holloway
Produced by ArtsCenter Stage
Plan Your Visit
What: HANDS UP: 6 Playwrights, 6 Testaments
When: February 5-7 at 8:00 pm
Where: Common Ground Theatre, 4815B Hillsborough Rd, Durham
RSVP: (919) 384-7817
Online Tickets: https://www.artful.ly/store/events/4916
*HANDS UP: 6 Playwrights, 6 Testaments is produced in association with the New Black Fest.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!