An Interview with Sari Caine

Indie Theater Now asked Sari Caine a few questions about this upcoming event.

Who are your favorite playwrights?

In terms of writers, Shakespeare is still the most amazing writer for me. He is capable of anything, and has everything in his plays. There are so many writers I love, in no particular order: Tennessee Williams, Tom Stoppard, Harold Pinter, Joe Orton, Oscar Wilde, Beth Henley, Phillip Barry, Lanford Wilson, Eugene O'Neill, Noel Coward, Kauffman and Hart, Clifford Odets, Herb Gardner, Euripides, Brendan Behan, Shaw, and Tina Howe and Arthur Kopit, both of whom I just started studying with this fall at Hunter's MFA program!

What's your favorite pastime when you’re not working on a play?

I have a bit of a split going on in my head. So my real life and my dream life are both acting and writing, the hours fly by, and I have something lovely and tricky and frustrating to obsess over. I guess when I'm not doing that, I really do enjoy teaching (chess, not playwrighting or acting!), and I love playing and listening to music, doing improv, watching improv. I rollerblade everywhere to get around, and try to go up and down the westside highway whenever I can. But like I said, there's this split, so while all this is going on, this other me in my head is fantasizing about some ranch life out of Jo's Boys (anyone read that? sequel to Little Women? really messed me up) where I have this great outside life, and horseback ride across valleys and canyons everyday, round up cattle (I know, it's bizarre), have a rescue farm for animals, and then in the summer, a program for kids in juvenile detention. Then, you know, in my spare time I'll be writing and go to NYC to do theater! Did I mention there's a Sam Shepard / Paul Newman figure on my ranch, or was that just taken for granted

Where does this play take place, and how did you choose that location?

Ok so the play takes place on what seems to be a normal house American suburbia, and I didn't choose it, it chose me! Picture what seems to be a drawing-room comedy, with the Lunts having barricaded themselves away from the rest of the world as they age into their twilight years in it, and get ready for a rollercoaster of a play. Very sharp and funny, with an unforeseeable turn of events at the end. You have to see what Clifton's done with the set, he really listened to my theater company's talk of immersive theater, looked at the play, and The Flea -and our ridiculously low budget!- and came up with something wonderful, which can often happen when you have no money! The audience will enter via the white picket fence surrounding our house, and walk across the- well, I don't want to give anything away. But, it's going to be rgeat.

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?

when I was three -or so the story goes- I was apparently doing a dance recital onstage, and when they tried to get me off I threw a tantrum. And I Never threw tantrums. I might have run out at top on stage before everyone else too... So my parents started me with commercials and modeling and theater and film and all that. My first commercial was at 3, it was for Dimetapp. Then the first stage play I did (I still remember my monologue from it!) I was five, it was at EST called 'Graham Crackers and Milk.' I got carried away during my monologue, and started to fall over backwards with my chair, when the actor playing my father caught me with one hand, and the chair with the other, and kept on going. Something happened for me then, having a 'real moment' that was completely unplanned onstage, I felt how it made everything more active and exciting, and I supposed became addicted to the high of what I would call spontaneous-scripted-moments, and the challenge of keeping yourself open to making discoveries through accidents. I wanted to be so many things growing up, a rock star, an astronaut, a cowboy, and it seemed to me that theater was the way to make that happen! I guess since I was looking at scripts for my acting jobs as a kid, it seemed natural to try and recreate that style. I also wrote a lot of fiction back then. And bad poetry. Theater is special for so many reasons, one being it just seems the most immediate and effective way of sharing a story together. We see the effect it has on the actors in front of us as soon as it happens, and we live it through them (the actors) together. It's a world with room for magic, and where mistakes and accidents mean discovery, which is becoming my motto in life!

Why did you want to write this show?

I didn't! I wanted to figure out Harold Pinter's ending in 'the Room,' I couldn't get it out of my head, I was puzzled and bewildered, and -I know this is ridiculous!- I felt angry and betrayed. So I wrote down what I thought was going on, to understand and explore what he was doing, and I ended up with this, seven years ago. This play has been the most difficult and intricate of everything I have ever tried to write. It is incredibly deliberate and complicated, probably because it is such a comedy, on surface at least, with a very specific arc going on beneath. So every time one thing changes -which it does, because my actors, Adam and Kathy and Dave, are so smart, and Sherri's got a great picture of the play overall- it sends a little ripple down throughout the rest of it, which I then have to address. I've currently smoothed all the ripples Almost all the way out... I was also writing this show because I was trying to avoid working on another, with a surprisingly similar name, Rabbit on the Landing.

posted September 1, 2014
Sari Caine

Sari Caine