My new play, THE GOOD ADOPTEE, Performed by Anna Bridgforth at Theatre Row as part of the United Solo Theatre Festival
An Interview with Suzanne Bachner
Indie Theater Now asked Suzanne Bachner a few questions about this upcoming event.
Who were the key figures who made this production happen—could be other artists, people who inspired the story, producers/producing company, etc.
Anna Bridgforth - the fierce, fearless, phenomenal actress with whom I have been lucky enough to work throughout the entire development of this project. Anna’s performance is magnificent and will knock your socks off. Bob Brader - my intrepid, insightful, inspiring dramaturg and partner. Not only did Bob live through the events of this play with me, but he has put up with me and been a beacon as I’ve been making this piece. Dr. Omar Sangare & Marcin Lipinski at United Solo who created a festival and space where unique adoptee stories can be told and who invited me to tell mine before I even knew I could.
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?
To me, there is no better place to tell the truth than live and in real time in front of an audience in the theater. Theater is unflinching and unforgiving - in the best possible way. When I decided I was ready to tell this part of my story, I wanted to do it in the most essential and powerful way possible - with a single incredible actress bringing it to life on stage.
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.
The late, great Romulus Linney taught me how to be a playwright - even though he didn’t believe it was something that could be taught. He gave out a one-page “textbook” on the first day of our workshop at the Actors Studio School of Drama at the New School listing 20 or so indispensable aspects of the craft and demonstrated to us that there was one item that had to be there or else nothing else mattered: blood and guts. Whenever I start getting too cute or too charming or avoiding the tough stuff, I can hear his voice and see the glint in his eye and it gets me back on course. I also had the great honor of studying one-on-one with another one of my theater heroes, the extraordinary Adrienne Kennedy. She got me started writing this incredibly personal piece when I had just begun searching. She kept saying: I think adoption is the key to this piece. She was right, of course.
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?
The first draft of this play was 7 hours long. Anna read it to me in rehearsal as I wrote it, and I read it to Bob in a single afternoon. I learned the difference between my story and this play. Once I realized that the focus of this play needed to be the search itself, which has its own dramatic motor, I was able to let it have the shape and form it needed. I later realized that lots of moments that I cut still ended up getting communicated in other moments of the play. The more I let go, the clearer the story became. The biggest surprise in rehearsal is that the play is funny - particularly as played by Anna. Her dozen characters are delicious. One woman’s tragedy is another’s comedy!
Without giving away any important surprises—what moment or moments do you most look forward to when you see this play being performed?
The first moment of the play is a HUGE surprise and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how the audience reacts. We’ve already surprised Bob and Katie Chai, our amazing Lighting Designer, with this, but I’m excited to see how a theater full of people respond together. Really I’m looking forward to sharing this play with an audience period - every single moment. Thrilled and completely freaked out in anticipation.
posted October 26, 2015