Lolita, Last of the Mohicans, and Quebec... an interview with Clarence Coo

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Hello Inkfans!

Inkwell member Andy Wassenich here to bring you some tasty morsels from our current reading series happening at Woolly Mammoth between now and November 14th. I’ll be checking in here with interviews with some of the fabulous artists involved in these readings — the playwrights, directors, actors, et al —to provide a little insight as to what is going on in the rehearsals leading up to these readings and what the process is like and where the play is in that process.

First up is playwright Clarence Coo, whose ambitious and thought provoking play, Beautiful Province (Belle Province), kicked off our series with a staged reading on Monday.


Where are you from originally?

CLARENCE: I'm from Washington. I moved to New York to get an MFA in playwriting at Columbia University, so it's great to be back in my hometown!

How do you generally work as a writer? What's your process?

CLARENCE: I like to take a bunch of things I'm obsessed with and challenge myself to see if I can cram them all into one play. This is a technique from my teacher, Charles Mee, who likes to write in collage form. It's also a great cure for writer's block. In the case of Beautiful Province, my obsessions were Lolita,The Last of the Mohicans, and Quebec.

What was your Inkwell collaboration like, where you got to work with actors, a director, a dramaturg, and a designer?

CLARENCE: I worked with the director (Randy Baker) and dramaturg (Meghan Long) to create specific goals that I wanted to accomplish during the rehearsal period. We structured our rehearsals in a way to tackle those goals. It was a great having a final reading without too much pressure, since the understanding was that the process took precedence over the performance. Working with the designer (Collin Ranney) was great too, since he was able to render the themes of the play into three dimensions. Now I can imagine my characters walking through a set, relating to the themes in a spatial way. (Check out the next blog entry, where we show you Collin's beautiful designs for Beautiful Province.)

What are you able to take away from this Inkreading that will help continue to shape the piece?

CLARENCE: The most amazing part was when I was talking to my director (Randy Baker) and dramaturg (Meghan Long) about how I wasn't happy with how the play ends. Randy suggested cutting one action that the characters perform, causing the beginning of one scene to flow continuously into the end of another scene. For whatever reason, I had never thought to do this before, but now the play suddenly makes so much more sense to me. It was a simple but major change that will be the key to how I keep developing the play.


Many thanks to Clarence for taking the time to answer our questions. And many thanks to him for his wonderful play. If you missed it, make sure you don’t miss the next one, Clementine and the Cyber Ducks by Krista Knight, this Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Woolly Mammoth Rehearsal Hall.

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This page contains a single entry by The Inkwell published on November 4, 2010 5:38 PM.

Wild and Woolly Reading Series was the previous entry in this blog.

The Designer's Imagination - Beautiful Province is the next entry in this blog.

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