5 Questions for Playwright Gabrielle Sinclair


What makes a Gabrielle Sinclair Play a Gabrielle Sinclair Play?

Much like Soylent Green, a Gabrielle Sinclair play is made of people. Aggressively optimistic, earnest, isolated, inarticulate and spiritually overwhelmed - people.

What was the moment when you decided to be a playwright?

I was the weird suburban middle schooler devouring intense little movies from Blockbuster - like Turtle Diary, Remains of the Day, and everything Dustin Hoffman made before 1983. I knew pretty early that I wanted to make dangerous and quiet moments, somehow, like the ones I found in those films. But it wasn't until I saw Art in 11th grade in Greenville, South Carolina, that I was introduced to what a playwright really was, and what she could create. It was the first Real Play I ever saw. Three men and a white canvas. Declarative, poignant, ridiculous. And, most of all, it was happening right there, right now. I think the big moment for me was when Marc ruined the painting, drew the skier sliding down that mountain. It was thrilling! Crazy! He just vandalized his friend's expensive thing! And more than that, I was complicit!

What trends do you see in the plays of other emerging playwrights? Are your plays part of those trends, or something different altogether?

Oh I see all kinds, which is really exciting - singular voices rising out of modern day noise, adventures with media, deconstructing space. Confessional style. Anarchy. Going deep, real deep, into the very, very small. The influence of technology on our thinking and expression of thoughts and feelings. And embracing it, investigating it, fighting against it, even ignoring it. Plays with purpose - a message, a goal. Plays that are quiet and personal. My stuff, depending on the project, can connect to all of those trends. Except tech. I actively try to avoid tech cuz tech breaks.

Every playwright I know has a little bit of magic voodoo as part of their writing ritual, a routine, an object on their desk, an unusual approach. What's the Gabby Sinclair voodoo?

My voodoo that I do: Iced coffee, no cats, a song or piece of music on repeat - the more outta my comfort zone the better. Also I often need a public space. Writing has a performative aspect for me. And the sort of half illusion of an audience in my personal space, even one that doesn't know it's that, helps me unlock. By powering through in public, I can allow whatever's just below the surface to come up without falling apart cuz I'm sitting in my local Wendy's. Like creating a safe space on stage - like a chalk circle. Except it's maybe a booth at IHOP, the space in this seat, between the coffee pot to my right, and the napkin dispenser on my left. The voodoo stuff is in the first draft, the second draft, the surprise discovery that changes everything. But by the end, it gets a lot colder, more fatalistic. A little more "This was always how it was supposed to be." The voodoo has to stay away. It all becomes very Calvinist at the end.

How do you want an audience to feel when they walk out of a Gabrielle Sinclair play?

Off center. A bit unmade. Like they've just met someone real, connected to them fast, and are left wondering what became of them, like family.

Learn more about the Ingram New Works Festival here.