Where do you look for inspiration?
I’m often inspired by overheard conversations on buses or on line at the supermarket. Cell phones can work well for playwrights as the other end of the conversation remains completely open to imagination. Sometimes, mid-work, a word or gesture by a stranger can point to the solution of a ‘moment’ or a problem in a play in progress. My other major source of inspiration is myth and folktale.
What play or production changed your life?
The play that changed my life was Peter Pan when Uta Hagen sent me off to audition for Wendy and I finally realized I would never get to play Lady Macbeth or Blanche Dubois or any of the characters I longed to “be” so I began to write the powerful and interesting protagonists I could inhabit in my imagination. I have always used Uta Hagen’s great acting techniques in writing and in teaching writing.
The production that changed my life was the incredibly moving way that my play Without A Trace (about a blind pianist) was produced in Scotland by Sounds of Progress, a group of very talented disabled musicians and actors with a mix of other actors and directed by the amazing Gerda Stevenson. This production illuminated the experience I think is unique to theatre, that of an entire audience being transported from their world beyond the fourth wall to the world of the play. When an entire audience is moved deeply, sometimes to tears, that moment becomes a kind of communion unlike any other experience! For a playwright the imagined “world” begins as text, and what a gift it is when realized by the talents of actors, designers, and director. In this play the musicians and actors were “seen” as the extraordinary artists they are and not “seen as” disabled. After 9/11 and because of the “Scottish play” in 2002 I realized that a play could change and/or powerfully inform the beliefs of audiences and lives of a company. This pointed the way for me to work for social change via playwriting.
What is your best escape? Walking, especially through Central Park.
Carol K. Mack‘s one act plays published in Best Short American Plays editions 1984-85, 1990, 1993-94, 2005-06 Applause Books; other plays published by Heinemann Press, Samuel French, DPS, Smith Kraus. Books published by Arcade, Holt, Skyhorse, Profile Books; plays staged at E.S.T., Berkshire Theatre Festival, A.R.T., Humana Festival, Women’s Project. www.carolkmack.com