Padgett Powell and playwriting stuff

There’s been some great readings here at Sewanee so far. I especially enjoyed the Southern writer Padgett Powell. He read from his novel “The Interrogative Mood.” I’d never heard anything like that before, it seemed experimental and made me a bit uncomfortable (but in the best possible way that uncomfortable can be.)

The book is written in all questions. Here’s a small excerpt of what he read:

“Are your emotions pure? Are your nerves adjustable? How do you stand in relation to the potato? Should it still be Constantinople? Does a nameless horse make you more or less nervous than a named horse? In your view, do children smell good? If before you now, would you eat animal crackers?”

-Padgett Powell, The Interrogative Mood”

And it went on and on like that for about 40 minutes. You could visibly see some agitation in the audience – people either found it funny and moving or were annoyed it seems.

I loved it – and it made me think a lot about Facebook and Twitter. How we can know so much about the minutiae of people – what they’ve eaten for lunch, what they do with a free hour in the afternoon, what movies they would watch a thousand times over.

And yet, do we really know anything at all about these people, “our friends?” in this virtual world? Anyhow, since I haven’t read the book – I don’t know how what the main theme is, but the reading felt both funny and melancholy.

Anyhow – more conference thoughts –

One of the most productive aspects of this conference so far is  learning about career paths from the other playwrights here.

I’ve gotten to pick their brains and I’ve been especially curious about those who’ve been to graduate school for their MFA in Playwriting. Graduates of Carniege Mellon, Brown, Iowa and Yale are all represented here. I’ve gotten the idea that Yale is extremely time consuming and there’s not really much time to write, it seems like you basically are thrown into working every aspect of theater possible and you’re working from early morning to late at night. Brown seems interesting and a more experimental than other programs. They all just sound so different in their own rights.

Emily Morse of New Dramatists is here to speak with us today. I met her at breakfast and she seems extremely knowledgeable and friendly. I’ve heard New Dramatists is ridiculously competitive and hard to get into – but I guess it makes sense, since it’s a 7 year development program. You have to submit two full length plays and recommendations, etc.

I realized it’s time to head to that – so I apologize for the disjointedness of this post. Will report more soon.


One thought on “Padgett Powell and playwriting stuff

  1. 7 year development program?! That’s insanity. Sounds like something my sister is locked into. Interesting to hear your perspective on “friends” in the virtual world. I know I struggle with it all the time.


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