Ted Sod: Will you give us some background information on yourself. Where are you from? Where were you educated? When did you decide to become a playwright and why?
Meghan Kennedy: I was born in Seattle and grew up on Lake Champlain in upstate New York and then Connecticut. Eesh, Connecticut. But I’ve been in New York City for the better part of fifteen years now, and this feels more like home than anywhere else.
I started writing poems first. Bad, bad poems. Poems that always featured whichever vocabulary word I had learned that week and decided was my current obsession. I remember when I learned the word ‘compelling’, that was a big one for me. Everything was suddenly compelling. My grandmother’s meatballs were compelling. My middle school boyfriend was really compelling. I applied to Tisch’s Dramatic Writing Program at NYU with a portfolio full of poetry. I never expected to get in. I remember they had a lunch for the people who had been accepted, and they gave us this big speech where they told us we should not come if we didn’t KNOW we wanted to be a playwright because this was a serious program for serious people. Yikes. I was a wreck. I remember stuffing my coat pockets full of cheese cubes and running for the door. I had no idea if I could write a play. But thankfully after my first class with my first teacher there, Paul Selig, I was hooked. I was in.
I went to graduate school at the Michener Program at UT Austin, which is a great program with an incredibly generous fellowship. It came at the perfect time in my life- I was working at a rare bookstore in the West Village, taking on as many tiny freelance writing jobs as I could, and I was very, very broke. And along came this huge gift. It was a chance to have time and space to write without having to worry about money for a little while.
TS: What inspired you to write Too Much, Too Much, Too Many? What do you feel the play is about?
MK: I’m interested in grief. The ways in which it can take up space. The hold it has. It’s a very particular power. That’s really what the play is about at its core. But it’s also about love- lasting, strong love. There are people in my life who have had the kind of love that Rose and James had, and seeing it has always completely leveled me. I don’t know if there’s anything more full than that kind of intimacy, that kind of closeness. So it’s also a bit of a love letter to that.
TS: Can you describe what you look for in a director? In casting actors for this production?
MK: I want to feel that the director and I speak the same language. I’m really starting to feel like meeting directors is a lot like dating. I haven’t actually been on all that many dates so I guess I’m imagining here, but I look for someone who is really listening and who I really want to listen to and that there’s a natural understanding and ease there without a lot of hoopla. I’m very lucky to have met Sheryl Kaller. She is all that and more. She’s a gem. And we had a great first date. I really love actors. Good actors make my day again and again. This is a very intimate play, and the space we’re in is very small- so there’s no room for even the slightest bit of falseness. So far we’ve been extremely lucky in who we’ve found. I can’t really talk about it yet but I am very, very excited.
TS. What are you working on now besides the Underground production of Too Much, Too Much, Too Many?
MK: I’m working on a new play called Talk To Me of Love that’s based on my mother’s adolescence in Brooklyn in a very strict Italian-Catholic family. She always talked about a plane that crashed in her neighborhood when she was young and how that crash changed something for everyone in her family. So I’m using that moment in time, in the winter of 1960, and building the story around it. It’s also a very personal play. There’s a lot of Italian spoken in it. A lot of Italian food. I’m always hungry when I work on it. It makes me ache for my grandmother’s meatballs. Her very compelling meatballs.
Too Much, Too Much, Too Many plays at the Black Box Theatre October 25 through January 5. All tickets are just $20. For more information and tickets, please visit our website.
2013-2014 Season, Roundabout Underground, Too Much Too Much Too Many