Soloski: Amy, Tom, do you feel this difficulty?

Bradshaw: There were some challenges with getting people on board with my work.

Soloski: Your work’s quite controversial.

Biblical Flea: Sean McIntyre and Adam Lebowitz-Lockard in Thomas Bradshaw's Job
Hunter Canning
Biblical Flea: Sean McIntyre and Adam Lebowitz-Lockard in Thomas Bradshaw's Job
4000 Miles to London? Gabriel Ebert and Mary Louise Wilson in Amy Herzog's Obie-winning play.
Erin Baiano
4000 Miles to London? Gabriel Ebert and Mary Louise Wilson in Amy Herzog's Obie-winning play.

Bradshaw: At first people didn’t even know what I was doing. But once people were like, oh, he’s doing this on purpose, that made the work a lot more acceptable. It really took all those plays at P.S.122 for people to see that.

Herzog: I was part of that glut of playwrights coming out of training programs, and for a few years out of graduate school I felt I was having a really hard time breaking in. But when I look back at that, I think the plays I was writing weren’t ready for production. I don’t feel I was being shut out, because of unfair circumstance. But I’m curious about what you guys think about the whole training program thing. Are we training too many playwrights?

Hwang: I don’t know that I want to go so far, but there have to be a lot of different ways to get into the field. The Public tries to do it with the Emerging Writers Program, they try to bias it a bit toward people who didn’t come out of programs. When I got my first production, there were a variety of different circumstances that happened, but essentially Joe Papp was looking for an Asian-American play. Joe did a reading of FOB and he took me into his office. He said, I’ll give you some notes. I didn’t agree with the notes, but he was Joe Papp. He said, go home, do another draft, send it back to me, and I’ll decide if I want to do it. I waited three weeks and I sent him back the exact same draft.

Bradshaw: Oh my god.

Hwang: And then I got phone call about 10 days later: This is Joe Papp and the play is great now, we’re going to do it.

Bradshaw: Oh my god.

Soloski and Herzog (simultaneously): That’s so ballsy.

Herzog: How did you have the self-possession at that age to do that?

Hwang: I don’t know if I would have the guts to do that now.

Soloski: What’s your biggest complaint about institutional theaters today?

Herzog: I feel so frightened for some reason.

Bradshaw: This is dangerous stuff.

Hwang: I’m the oldest, so I’ll start. I feel like the not-for-profit movement started as an alternative to commercial theater and that was the whole point of it. Now all these regional theaters and institutional theaters are kind of about, what shows have we moved to Broadway? Have we won the regional theater Tony? Broadway’s such a tiny slice of the American theater and to focus too much on that really hurts the field.

Herzog: There’s a culture of development that’s pervasive—a culture sometimes where as a playwright you’re given notes and you’re expected to put the notes into action in order for the play to be produced.

Bradshaw: And the person who comes to you with notes, it’s like, have you ever written a play? What do you really know about dramatic structure? It is very different to study these things in theory then to actually implement them.

Herzog: When a production is contingent on rewrites, that’s the situation I’m objecting to.

Soloski: What theater would you most like to work with, and are there theaters that you don’t want to work with?

Herzog: I will be so impressed if either of you answer that.

Bradshaw: I’m not answering that question.

Hwang: We’re all too advanced in this field to answer the question of whom we don’t want to work with.

Bradshaw: It’s like, don’t give me money!

Soloski: Well, whom would you like to work with then?

Hwang: I feel like the Public has been my home since I was 23, and I’m very happy to work with the Signature this season.

Soloski: Anyone you haven’t worked with?

Hwang: Come back to me.

Bradshaw: I really would like to work at London’s Royal Court or the National.

Hwang: Oh, I can say that, too. I never get produced in London.

Soloski: What’s so great about London? Why do you say London and not Chicago?

Herzog: We’ve all had productions in Chicago. They love us in Chicago.

Bradshaw: You want the thing that you can’t have. London is a great theater city.

Herzog: Young people go.

Hwang: It’s a theater-going culture.

Herzog: Thomas, I’m really jealous of your other European connections. I would love to have a play in Germany. That would make me feel really cool.

Bradshaw: I’ll hook you up.

Soloski: So far, what has been your best experience as a playwright and your worst?

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