Interview with Mark Howell, Solares Hill, February 13, 2004

1) Do you see a thread of connection between "The House of Yes," "Schoolgirl Figure" and your new play, "Things Being What They Are"?

Not so much. THINGS is a departure for me, in tone and form. It is a comedy, but more traditional, bittersweet, and REAL than the other two plays.

2) Comedy (and works for children) are sometimes assumed by audiences/readers to be easier to write than "serious" works. Any comment?

If comedies are so easy to write, how come most sit coms are so bad? The art of writing comedy is making it LOOK easy.

3) Is a public reading as much fun for the playwright as a full performance? Do the actors have as much an effect on you? (Do actors have an affect on playwrights at all, before/during/after a play is written?)

Public readings are sort of a guilty pleasure because you get the payback of an audience response without the hard work of a rehearsal process. Different casting choices reveal different things about the play to you. With this reading, we're casting a 20-something guy across from an older guy, to get the contrast between their two stages of life.

4) Who are some of your favorite actors? Playwrights?

I'm hesitant to name favorite actors because I'll get 79 e-mails from the actors I forget to mention. Suffice it to say, I love actors. And when you find actors who "get" your material, it's a blessing. My material requires actors who know from funny, but are also able to offer intellect and emotional texture. I'm very excited to be working with Jake Weber, who was brilliant in David Petrarca's production of KIMBLERY AKIMBO, and Josh Radnor, who was a former student, and was really good even then.

Favorite playwrights? Yikes. There are so many. I don't to see as many new plays as I'd like because I live in the country, far from New York and Chicago...but here goes: Chekhov, Ionesco, Christopher Shinn, Paula Vogel, Terrence McNally, John Guare, Caryl Churchill, Harold Pinter, David Mamet, Martin McDonagh, Conor Mcpherson, and Donald Margulies.

5) Do you have any preconceived notions about Key West?

My notion is that it's warm and sunny there and I will love it. I'm picturing brightly colored bungalows and imagining sea breeze.

6) How's the weather up there?

See above and imagine the opposite.