5 Questions for Playwright Tori Keenan-Zelt


What is it about theatre that draws you to write for it? Sarah Ruhl writes about this in her play STAGE KISS:

"...you can be alone in your own mind when you watch a movie and it’s like masturbation but you can’t be alone when you watch a play because there’s always someone next to you. That’s why it’s uncomfortable to watch people have sex on stage but pleasant to watch them have sex in movies...That’s why the theater is superior to film because it’s less like masturbation."

Nothing against masturbation, but I think she's onto something. It's lonely to be a person. Not just on the couch, but at the mall, on the subway, in Starbucks... We use our little screens to hide from each other. Theatre takes those away for a while. It makes us tell the truth because, even though you can imagine anything in the world on stage, you can't lie, or it gets gross fast. So when we make theatre, we have to tell the truth, reveal ourselves, & look things in the face together. It's terrifying, but it makes us less alone. Writing for that, even in a Starbucks, makes me less alone because I'm not just writing; I'm planning a surprise party for my favorite people.

What's your favorite stage moment and why?

Watching the audience when Sarah Silverman tells a story. Their mouths get so perfectly round, you could fit a parakeet into them. Not that I would. I'm just saying. One could. If one drugged it.

What creative pursuits (if any) do you do apart from writing plays?

I've always been really good at self-deprecation. Like, the best.

If you lost your ability to read and write for a day what would you do?

Get a bunch of tacos, kidnap an office full of people, and put on a backyard production of The Bluebird of Happiness, starring Mark Zuckerberg as Shirley Temple. I might share the tacos.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

Writing is horrible. Any writer who tells you different is a big fat liar, and you can tell them I said so. We'll do anything to not write–even laundry. Even flossing. You can use this to your advantage: need a kitchen cleaning/eye exam/embalming? Ask a writer! Just remember, before not too long, something will remind her: the only thing worse for a writer than writing is not writing. And meth. Meth is pretty bad too. So I hear. So yeah, not writing and meth. Does that answer your question? Spying, on the other hand, that's fun. Especially on imaginary people. You can just write down everything good they say and take all the credit.