Each week between now and the end of the year, we will be introducing you to one of this year’s Young Playwrights Inc. National Playwriting Competition Winners. As Literary Manager of Young Playwrights Inc., I first get to know these individuals through their plays. These interviews give us a chance to get acquainted with them off the page as well. I hope you enjoy getting to know these writers as much as I have.
[Full Disclosure note: I know Zachary better than most of our other 2011 winning playwrights—he spent a week with us in January to workshop his play, According to Their Learning, one of last year’s National Playwriting Competition winners.]
First of all, I have been wondering this ever since I met you—do you prefer to be called Zach or Zachary?
Zachary. In casual conversation and everything Zach is fine, but in print and everything I prefer Zachary.
Okay, Zach, um, Zachary… So, can you tell me a little bit about your play?
Loganheim, The Clock Smasher is written in free verse and it’s about a rather impulsive young man who is certain that he is going to get his life straightened out and he is going to have a great day the next day—if he can get up early enough to accomplish everything. So he sets his alarm for 3 am and smashes his alarm instead of actually getting out of bed. He gets up the next day with an attitude that clocks should be destroyed and schedules abolished; and that it is his duty to smash all of the clocks and free people from the routines and measures of time that control everyone’s lives.
I really responded to the fanciful world of this play and the way that you used verse to tell the story. What was your inspiration for writing this play?
The visual inspiration that started this specific play was the cover of a science magazine… it had a picture of an exploding alarm clock on the cover of it. But otherwise I write a lot about time. Time and theater within theater have been my two most prominent themes in my plays. I feel my best plays happen when I am mocking some aspect of myself. So in Loganheim, the Clock Smasher I sort of use the play to poke fun at my rebellious nature and impulsiveness…as well as my relationship with time. Some days I want my life to be planned out minute my minute like Dick Todd does [the play’s clock-store owner antagonist] and other days I want to be free of any time constraints.
So you can trace that opening up in perspective and creativity to your exposure to Ionesco’s plays and his imaginative worldview? That’s cool!Loganheim as a character has a superhero feel to him. He dresses up in a costume and goes about his mission to defy time. Who are your theatrical heroes?
Eugene Ionesco in particular is my favorite playwright because his plays are so imaginative, he has a quote: “A work of art is above all an adventure of the mind.” I feel like that might be my aim as a playwright to make theater an adventure more than anything else. It should always engage and enlighten, and create an ecstasy in the audience from watching it. The breadth of [Ionesco’s] imagination helped inspire me to be more imaginative in the way I thought about the world and about life.
This is strange because I think it often feels the opposite way, but I feel like my perspective has been broadening ever since I was little. When I was four years old, I had a very narrow perspective on the world and was sort of staunch and rigid in my thinking, and I had to learn to become imaginative and creative. It seems like most people complain about losing their imagination as they get older.
And the opposite thing happened to you?
Yeah, you know, as a kid if I made a drawing I was very into it looking exactly like how it looked in the real world. I was a perfectionist, I guess. I didn’t want to do things unless they were…accurate. And now things have changed quite a bit.
You mentioned that you are working on inspiring other young writers. Can you tell me more about that?
I am an unschooler/homeschooler so I have a group here in Kansas and Missouri and they have these classes where they get together once a week. So I am hosting a playwriting class and I am trying to encourage all of them to submit a play to the Young Playwrights Inc. competition if they finish a play and feel comfortable with it. I would encourage all young playwrights to submit because you always get this valuable feedback in return. And you know it is fun to send your play off in the mail! We are going to try to do a staged reading of our own at the end of class for the plays that have been finished.
You are an inspiration! Thank you for your time and we look forward to seeing you in January.
Zachary Weaver will be joining seven other playwrights at the 2012 Young Playwrights Conference in New York City, January 4-12. This year we will be inviting members of the Young Playwrights Family (like you!) to the readings of these talented young writers. If you are interested in attending the readings contact us at reservations[at]youngplaywrights.org.
The deadline for writers in the United States 18 and under to submit a play to our 2012 competition is January 2nd.
Until next week!
Elizabeth Bojsza, Literary Manager