BWW Interviews: Stark Naked Theatre Talks ALL GIRLS
Anna Greenfield is an emerging American playwright. Her play ALL GIRLS garnered a lot of recognition during its initial New York City run produced by Horse Trade Theater Group at New York City's Kraine Theater. The play is described as being "a hyper real and sometimes surreal play about three teenage girls and one colossally scary mother. Trembling on the brink of womanhood, the girls act out with one another and their families in the most outrageous ways imaginable." In the height of technical rehearsals, I digitally conversed with playwright Anna Greenfield, Susannah Eig (Morgan), Victoria Villarreal (Claude), Amy Michele Mire (Jenny), Kim Tobin (Mrs. Gray), and director Julia Traber about the upcoming Houston regional premiere of ALL GIRLS.
BWW: What was your inspiration for ALL GIRLS?
Anna Greenfield: I was writing weird plays that didn't make sense for a while. I was also acting in weird plays for no money for a while. I was kinda sad about it, and then I sneaked into a talk that John Patrick Shanley was giving to the Strasberg Institute in New York. What he said about writing stuck so hard in my brain and rang my heart bell so freaking loud. He said that for him, true success and connection happened in his writing when he stopped trying to show people how clever he was, and he just started showing people who he was through the work. He stopped trying to be brilliant, and he started writing plays about how extraordinarily ordinary we all are. That is what people connected to; that is what made audiences cry and laugh out loud. So I was like, "Yeahhhhh, I don't wanna be pretentious anymore. I wanna show love through my work and connect toooo." Then I sat down to write, and ALL GIRLS came out. It's not the whole truth, but it's some truth, and for me it was a step in the right direction.
BWW: What was the writing process like? How did you get it from idea to page?
Anna Greenfield: I pretended that I had been hired to write a play, which sometimes works. Most of the time, you know you're pretending and you slack off. But I started writing it and I wrote it every day until it was done. Then we workshopped the play with Fresh Ground Pepper, a play ground group in NYC. After that was over, the director of the original run of ALL GIRLS, Lee Sunday Evans (an amazing, amazing, amazing person director soul) suggested some changes. I did a big rewrite, and that version slowly morphed through rehearsals into the first run of the show and the script as it is now.
BWW: What has been the most rewarding aspect of writing ALL GIRLS?
Anna Greenfield: The most rewarding experience is sharing this play with an audience. Giving it away, so it's not a selfish cloud between my computer and me, but a real living breathing watching thing that people can come see. And maybe like. And maybe not.
BWW: ALL GIRLS is a title that many in Houston aren't familiar with. In your own opinion, what is the show about?
Kim Tobin: First, it is about remembering what it was to be a thirteen-year-old girl, how hard that time was, finding yourself, and what identity meant. The girls are so funny, playful, and complex. But then it becomes much, much more universal. It becomes about struggle, fear, and how life can sometimes push us into very dark places where we feel like the choices we have to make to survive have to be about lying and pretending in a bad way - lying about who we are and what we want if we are to survive in this world. Then, ultimately, it presents us with what it means to strip away the lies and tell the truth and what it means to stand naked in front of our peers and be real.
Amy Michele Mire: This show has been an absolute joy to be a part of, not only as an actress, but also as a girl! ALL GIRLS is all about the crazy and sometimes ridiculous trials that girls experience as they grow up.
Susannah Eig: Okay, so obviously ALL GIRLS is about girls. Duh. But it's more about relationships, growing up, and struggling to figure out who you are. It's definitely a play that makes you reexamine your past, appreciate your present, and wonder about your future.