Ariadne on the Island
An Interview with Isaac Allen Miller
Indie Theater Now asked Isaac Allen Miller a few questions about his play Ariadne on the Island.
Who were the key figures who made this production happen—could be other artists, people who inspired the story, producers/producing company, etc.
The key figure for this production is director Avery Wigglesworth - a kick-ass sister from Kentucky who moved to New York and immediately started her own theatre company (http://www.thecutouttheatre.org/). I wrote "Ariadne" for Avery knowing her penchant for physically daring work, staging that cracks and fractures a play so you can see what's really inside it. The play as it stands can be mostly attributed to her, her sister, Thea, and the actors as well for diving into her rigorous process and my convulsive language.
Why is this a play, as opposed to a film or a web series or a novel (or anything else)? And what is it about live theater that attracts you most, that keeps you revved and jazzed to work in this form?
Live theater's subtle manipulations is what's most attractive to me. What this play explores is something I struggle whenever I'm in a room with a piece of theatre - is this well-told story a "good" story? Why does it grab me, even if I find the thrust of it repulsive? How has our focus, as a society, on "heroes" - overwhelmingly male and masculine to boot - left us numb or oblivious to other struggles? How do plays help form this mesh of rape culture - and how do they poke holes in it? When do we use "art" and "aesthetic" to cover up abuse? How many of us accept accountability as artists, especially in an over-saturated industry where compromises are often necessary to earn money, exposure and all else. Look at Profiles Theatre in Chicago. Look at the artistic communities you're a part of. Look at this play. Tell me what you think! That's what's great about theatre, I'll be there with you.
Who taught you how to be a playwright? This could be specific teachers, or role models whose work you’ve seen or read, or of course any combination.
Shout-out to my writing teachers at Knox College - Sherwood Kiraly, Chad Simpson, Cyn Kitchen, Monica Berlin, Robin Metz and particularly Neela Vaswani who told freshman me I had a knack for dialogue - possibly to get me to stop writing prose. Caryl Churchill - though I haven't spoken to her directly - has been a major influence. Her plays always amaze me with their boldness and flippancy. Each one engages a different prescient issue with a clear perspective. No other playwright has encouraged me to embrace big ideas without writing Big-ly.
What have you learned about this play as it has evolved from first draft to the present version? And what has surprised you in this current production-what did you discover in the work that you didn’t realize was there?
Oh man, seeing this play has scared and delighted me past compare. I put my fingers to my keyboard with a teeming mind and faith in my director, and she and her actors unveiled this creepy and hilarious play that had me on tenterhooks. What most surprised me, however, were the pockets of tenderness the actors found in this flurry of a play. There's something really heartbreaking about knowing precisely how a story ends and rooting against that.
Without giving away any important surprises—what moment or moments do you most look forward to when you see this play being performed?
Watching the chorus of crabs delight in the audience!
posted August 3, 2016