WOS Special Edition: Matthew T. Messina

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conducted by mike doyle on 5/16/13

md: What’s kind of been the process in terms of getting things ready for Wrights of Spring? You can talk about from the beginning of this year working on your play, or even the playwriting sequence in general. 

mm: Yeah, so I guess I’ll start at the beginning of this year. In September we came into Carlos’s class––it’s like a six hour block on fridays, and we just started generating material. We told some stories about common themes, and then we just started bringing in twenty pages a week of random material. Eventually, a lot of my stuff started to surround these very arbitrary conversations between a guy and girl, like they had a relationship, but it was over, but then like one of them might not actually have been dead. It was very weird talking about the past, and one day I decided to title the characters Samson and Delilah. I’ve always liked that biblical story, and I’ve always been very confused by it. It’s always been an obsession of mine, and then it just kind of snowballed from there and turned into this play, what it is now. At the end of fall quarter I had probably like 150 pages of random material, and then I paired that down to about twenty pages at the beginning of winter quarter. I really shaped and sculpted this play into what it is now. It’s close to a hundred pages now.

md: I saw it at Day of Plays (an annual event at the end of winter quarter where third years bring in actors and have their plays read). How has it changed since then? Has it undergone more changes than earlier?

mm: I had two breakthroughs in the winter. I figured out it was a memory piece. I figured out it was Samson’s story.

md: As opposed to Delilah’s?

mm: Yeah, because originally that’s how it started out fall quarter. She was definitely the protagonist, and then it switched. That happened and right before Day of Plays I had a rough idea. I remember sitting in the Richardson library for three nights in a row. I stayed there from nine o’clock until five in the morning each night, and I powered through it and wrote so much. I really figured it out then. That’s what you saw at Day of Plays. Now, I’ve been kind of going through and fine tuning and trying to isolate each character’s action in the scenes, and then trying to adjust the language accordingly. I’ve been extracting characters’ threads and extrapolating upon those. It’s definitely grown since Day of Plays, but it’s more like fine tuning and adding.

md: What’s it been like working with actors and everything else now that comes with Wrights of Spring? What are the stresses of having to actually produce the play?

mm: For Day of Plays I had three actors for the three characters in the play, and only one of them is going to be reading for my Wrights of Spring, because the other two could not. I sent my current actors a really long message the other night with a rough copy of the script. I sent them a lot of videos and songs that really inspired me as I was writing just to try to get them into the world of the play and the mindset I was in while I was writing it. I’m actually really excited to get started with them, because I feel like every time I have actors read my script I totally start to hear new things. It does such wonders for me when I’m writing. I’m really looking forward to the rehearsal process. Michael Osinski’s directing, and we’re going to have two rehearsals before Wrights of Spring. I’m excited to hear them read it and then have conversations with the cast and then rewrite from there. It’s just really helpful for me personally as a playwright.

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