Artistic Statement

Artistic Statement

My interests as a writer have always had an international focus, and my plays and musicals have often used theatrical conventions and forms from around the world to explore contemporary American subjects. For example, I have written a Japanese Noh Drama about Elvis Presley (Blue Moon Over Memphis); a musical comedy about evolution inspired by world mythologies and Saturday morning cartoons (Coyote Goes Salmon Fishing); and a contemporary drama about the aftermath of terrorism written in the form of a Greek tragedy (The Women of Lockerbie). My play Into the Fire draws on the methods of magic realism from Latin American novels to dramatize life in an Alaskan fishing town. The Velvet Weapon uses the backstage farce to explore populist democracy.

I believe that there are no limits to what you can do on the stage. I also believe that the audience is quite adventurous. This comes from producing theatre in Alaska for 15 years (I was one of the original company members, and the producing director, of the Perseverance Theatre) where I learned over and over that audiences will follow you just about any place you want to go provided you prepare them through your craft for the journey.

Finally, I have several rules when I sit down to write a play:

1. It has to be something I’ve never done before—in terms of theme, style, form or craft;
2. It has to require something of me as a writer that I don’t know how to do.

This is how I keep the work interesting and challenging and how I keep growing as a writer. Every writer knows that you learn by writing. If there is something I don’t know how to do in every play I write, I will be a stronger and better writer after I figure it out and write it.