by Martin Denton · December 25, 2015
The notion of using untranslatable expressions from various languages as sort of the lynchpin of LAST NIGHT AT THE CARMINE really jazzed me when I read the play the first time. How did you come up with this idea, and how did you find the untranslatable words/phrases that eventually ended up in the play? Did some words/phrases get thrown out of the play along the way?
The idea actually came from one of those buzz feed articles that lists untranslatable words. That ignited a bit of an obsession, I started searching where ever I could find them. There are so many that I wasn't able to use, I think my favorite was Komorebi (Japanese): The way sunlight looks when shining through tree leaves.
How did you first get interested/involved with theater? How did you decide to become a playwright?
When I was 8 and I did "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" at our small town Kentucky community theater. After that I was hooked! I took a playwriting course as an elective in my college theater program, and wrote a short, that later became a full length that we produced there. When I finished my first full length I found myself missing it, the characters, hearing their voices, and more than that just using my brain in the very different way writing requires me to use it. I don't think that there is anything quite as satisfying as writing.
What are the three most important plays that have influenced your craft and career so far?
Our Town: It's always been my favorite. It is very clear about having something to say. It taught me as a writer not to be ashamed of that, or desperately attempt to hide my message, for fear of being called preachy. Plenty of people call "Our Town" preachy. That never stopped it from moving me.
The Dragon Play by Jenny Connell Davis: It taught me that being brave as a writer isn't about being controversial, it's about telling the story how it needs to be told whatever that means, even if it means a love story between a boy and a dragon.
Venus in Fur, for the same reason.
Was there a real version of “The Carmine” that inspired the writing of this play? What was the initial impetus for creating this work?
The work actually started with the words. I wrote the second scene of the play first as a stand alone for a class. The assignment was to write a scene that defined an untranslatable word. I fell in love with the character of the roof top in the second scene, and started thinking about buildings in New York and the crazy lives they live. Each scene in the play defines an untranslatable word, but the play itself is trying to define the building, "The Carmine", which is entirely fictional, and maybe got it's name from the Italian restaurant I live above... maybe.
How was the FringeNYC experience for you? Did it meet your expectations? Why had you decided to bring the piece to FringeNYC in the first place?
FringeNYC far out weighed my expectations. It's the real deal. When they say their purpose is to promote and support indie theater because they love it, they mean it. A friend suggested I submit, and I did that without thinking much of it. I would love to go back next year with another piece. I really can't say enough good things about FringeNYC.