An Interview with Elena Zucker

Indie Theater Now asked Elena Zucker a few questions about her play Thread.

Is this play political? Why or why not?

This play—in which a woman inadvertently likes a Facebook post calling for a Palestinian uprising against Israel—is deeply political, but not because it takes a clear, polemical stance on Mideast politics. Rather, the play is political because it examines how the personas we present to the public, particularly through social media, do and do not represent us; how we are complicit, unknowingly, in creating the terms of political discourse; and how the destruction of our literal and figurative communities—from ancient temples to the platforms of social media—leave us vulnerable to our own past transgressions…in this case, crimes against love.

Theater is a necessary ingredient in democratic societies. Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Art is a necessary expression—critical or celebratory—for any society. I would have to believe that the less democratic the society, the more necessary that expression. But art in any society fosters discourse and allows people to think in new and different ways. In the U.S., it’s unclear to me whether we view the arts as having inherent and essential cultural value. After all, the vast majority of the arts receive no support from the government.

Which political figure would like your show the best: Chris Christie, Hilary Clinton, Rand Paul, or Al Sharpton?

Al Sharpton, hands down! Mimi C. King, our protagonist, takes occasional and deliberate oratorial flight, and I think he'd like her.

Who do you think has the right idea about theater: Brecht, Artaud, Shakespeare, or Aristotle?

I’ll take Brecht’s balls, Artaud’s aggression, Shakespeare’s charcuterie and Aristotle’s analytics.

Is it more important to you to write about people who have the same political/social views as you, or people who have entirely different ones?

My writing begins with a character's voice and need. I've never deliberately set out to discover or reveal someone's difference or sameness in relation to me, even though I often write about people of vastly different origins and communities. I suppose I'm a kind of fanciful eavesdropper, and playwriting could be viewed as a kind of co-opting of voice and experience. Even at its lightest, this act is political.

posted August 2, 2016