I recently sat down with playwrights Stephen Karam (Speech & Debate) and Steven Levenson (The Language of Trees) for a great discussion about writing, rewriting, and seeing their plays produced at Roundabout Underground. Here are some of their thoughts:
Stephen Karam: I met Steven Levenson back when Speech & Debate was given a workshop production at Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep. Steven auditioned for the play and was great. You can act, Levenson. He played the part of Solomon, brilliantly, in all of the readings that followed, and narrowly missed out on doing the play in NY. I figured out he was a writer soon thereafter, but wasn’t surprised at all. Steven had a real interest in the new play process and took such good care with my language and all of the changes that were thrown at him. Looking back, I suspect it’s because he has a writer’s sensibility.
Steven Levenson: I obviously met Stephen at the same time he met me. But I would like to say, having now been in the position of writer of a new play, I am endlessly astounded by the kind of poise and steady focus that Stephen always had in the rehearsal room. It is such a charged, stressful atmosphere when your work is being poked and prodded by so many people at once, and Stephen is really a model of how to remain calm and at the same time confident in his ideas and in his impulses in the face of so much high-intensity scrutiny. I have a habit – as both of you sadly can probably confirm – of taking any chance to panic.
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Roundabout Underground, The Language of Trees