One of the best writers alive right now is the playwright Annie Baker. Glad to see her get a profile piece in this week’s The New Yorker. Here are some of my favorite parts of the article:
“I can hear my students’ voices through just the way they listen,” [Annie Baker] says. “I always tell them, If you lose track of your voice as a writer, go back, eavesdrop, write down everything you hear, and that’s it. That’s you listening to the world.”
Before Baker writes a play, she spends about nine months reading, usually without a particular method or design. She reads history, fiction, and theory. Many of her models, she insists, aren’t dramatic — they include, instead, visual artists like Francis Bacon and Robert Irwin. “Irwin would never call himself a theatre artist,” she says, “but I’d say that what he was doing from the seventies on, which was making people walk into a room and look at it differently, is a kind of theatre.”
"She thrives on confrontation," says Baker’s older brother, Benjamin Nugent. "I think our family was hard for her sometimes, because it wasn’t all that confrontational; my mother and I were quietly depressed in the years after the divorce, and I think her impulse was to try to hammer at our shells, to get us to be depressed more openly. I still see that shell-hammerer in Annie’s work."
You can read the full article here: http://bit.ly/W87zpr
There’s a lot of discussion over whether the novel is dead, or whether film is over, whether this form or that form is dying. I feel relatively uninterested in those conversations, it seems an easy way to get depressed, and I also feel the time spent discussing whether the novel is dead could be spent working on a novel or reading a great novel. But I will say this, I am pretty confident that theatre is going to be around as long as this planet. It’s older than almost all the other narrative mediums and it has a immediacy that cannot be replaced.
Annie Baker explores that immediacy in multiple interesting ways. I feel going to her plays is experiencing something beyond the ordinary experience. I am going to see her newest play The Flick at Playwrights Horizons in March. You should too.