Voices of BTM XX: Bill Lattanzi
This is a weird little piece. I’m not sure how it started, but what it’s turned into is an attempt to conjure and reckon with the persistent, particular feeling of unease brought on by the Trump disaster. So, naturally, jokes… and something more, I hope. There are three characters under pressure, and a dancer who moves in and out of the action, silent, maybe trying to communicate something that’s impossible to put into words.
What interests you about the ten-minute format?
I love the unpredictability of it, the chance to get inside the ten-minute box and bounce all kinds of theatrical ideas around. I’m no poet, but there’s something about the concision required that pushes in the direction of poetry. “Get it out into that poetic country,” Sam Shepard said. For me, anyway, that means messing with the format, and avoiding the two-people-talking-who-have-a-conflict scene. The ten-minute, like a poem, wants a good image, I think. It also can be like a pop song, a lot of energy and feeling compressed in a tight package that moves fast. Last year, I made a kind of meta-fictional play, straight comedy, that was a hoot for me. About a writer trying to write a play, it flipped in on itself about four or five times in ten minutes. It’s the speed of the thing that makes it work.
What’s next for you as a playwright (or actor, producer, etc.)?
It’s funny, I’ve been away from it for a long time, and I find myself coming back little by little. I have a play (not mine) that I want to direct, and fully loaded rock Hamlet in 1960s Swingin’ London, if there were any takers. And ideas. The best thing a playwright can say is, I’m working on a new play.
It’s hard to believe we’re celebrating BTM XX. Do you have a favorite BTM memory?
Well, I was there at the beginning, working with Kate and Dan Hunter and some others to cook it all up. I was separately trying to talk up a local full-length festival, getting nowhere, and Kate had this idea for a 10-minute fest. I had some ideas, but Kate had ideas plus everything else needed to get it done, just the unstoppable combination of talent, charm, brilliance, courage, and grit that is Kate. My favorite memory is probably coming out of the first hour of the first marathon and seeing that both theaters, the lobby, and the hallways at Boston Playwrights’ were packed like sardines. We did each show twice then, once in each theater, and there was such a feeling of ‘event,’ it was electric. I wanted to get press and public attention for original Boston theater, Kate wanted the community to recognize its own strength and come together, and we achieved both that day. There were plays from unknowns to David Mamet, and all of them held equal footing on the stage. It’s great to see the Marathon all grown up. After twenty years, it has become the theater tradition we hoped it could be.
Don’t miss Off the Rails—and 49 other amazing ten-minute plays—in Boston Theater Marathon XX on May 6! Tickets