In preparation for American Theater Company’s annual 10 x 10 Play Festival, I connected with the featured playwrights about their careers in the theatre, the relevant themes of the play(s), and the role of theatre as a tool for social change. Click here to learn more about the 10 x 10 Festival and please enjoy this wonderful interview with Lucas Neff.
Jacqueline Lawton: Why did you decide to get into theatre? Was there someone or a particular show that inspired you?
Lucas Neff: I got into theatre because my university misprocessed my application and put me in the wrong department. I just stuck with it because I hate paperwork, and my mom said something along the lines of “You’re a loudmouth, fuck it, give it a go.” She’ll say she didn’t swear, but she’s probably lying.
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?
LN: I write wherever. But I only like to write on my computer because of my super sweet lightning fast typographic skills. Thank you, seventh grade computer processing class. I have no rituals. I’m not a big believer in rituals. I think they have the potential to narrow us into predictability and repetitiveness. Embrace neuroplasticity, I say. Mix it up. Surprise yourself. Write in a new way. Maybe you’ll have a different kind of idea. I dunno.
JL: Why was it important for you to be a part of American Theatre Company’s 10 x 10 Festival?
LN: I was excited to be asked to lend a voice to a conversation that I think is deeply relevant and necessary. I don’t know how necessary or relevant my voice is in that conversation. But I’m thrilled to be a part of it. And I hope I contribute rather than detract.
JL: Tell me about your plays. What do you hope the audience walks away thinking about after experiencing it?
LN: How To Make A Black Boy Disappear and Respectability Politics are just attempts to try and focus the conversation on what I think are some of the root ills of our racial woes in this county. We love to discuss symptoms and specifics, but often we overlook the more personally confronting ugly truths that function as origin and cause for these social sicknesses. We are the problem. There is unchecked inherent bias at play and it needs to be torn down. I hope you walk thinking “I am a racist. What can I do to not be one?”
JL: What role does theater have in advocacy work?
LN: Every social space has a need for active advocacy. Theatre is generally a more acknowledged home for advocacy because it is almost entirely a form of social theorizing. The depiction and dissection of a world through the lens of its author. We expect these conversations there. But they should be everywhere.
JL: What next for you as a writer? Where can we follow your work?
LN: What’s next? Oh boy, the whole goshdarn world awaits, doesn’t it? Um. I’m writing a book right now. The Autobiography of a Small Bird. I hope there are people who will enjoy reading it as much I’m enjoying writing it. There’s lots of death in it. And wondering.
About the Playwright
Lucas Neff is a human being from Chicago. He has acted in some plays and a couple TV shows, most notably Raising Hope on Fox. He's also written some plays, one of which, The Last Duck, was produced in Chicago. He writes other things too. Sometimes he does comedy. He thinks bios are silly and would like it very much if you're reading this right now, to spend the next several seconds thinking of ways to be kinder to those around you. You can find him on Twitter here: @reallucasneff
10 outstanding playwrights tackle race, police brutality, and community in Ferguson, New York City, and around the world. 10 inspired directors bring their work to life.
Join us on March 9 at 7:30pm for a uniquely challenging one-night-only engagement at the American Theater Company, as we are proud to present our annual short plays festival, 10x10.
Tickets are free but seats will fill up fast. To make a reservation, send us an email at ATC10x10@Gmail.com. Due to high demand, we are only able to reserve up to two seats per request.
At the door, we suggest a $10 donation to help us cover the cost of supporting the festival, though we welcome you to pay what you can.
This Year's Playwrights:
Jeff Augustin. Kristiana Rae Colón. Matthew-Lee Erlbach. Jacqueline E Lawton. Bonnie Metzgar. Dominique Morisseau. Lucas Neff. A Rey Pamatmat. Akin Salawu. Aurin Squire.
Kaiser Ahmed. Grace Cannon. Amanda Delheimer Dimond. Matt Dominguez. Azar Kazemi. Reed Motz. Hutch Pimentel. Tlaloc Rivas. Samuel Roberson. Conner Wilson.
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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!