profiling the playwright profiler: aszym talks to li88y

Adam Szymkowicz is not only a prolific, award-winning, and widely produced playwright, with a web series, loads of press, a brand new super funny tumblr, and lots of publications, he’s also a prolific profiler of playwrights.

I was #81 when I had my turn on the blogspot, and I had no idea that the numbers would reach well past 600. He’s interviewed playwrights who are friends of mine, playwrights I’ve gone to school with, who I’ve studied with, been acquainted with at parties, playwrights I’ve never heard of, playwrights I’ve produced at Sticky, and playwrights of whom I’m in awe (here’s one).

When #631 came out the other day, I decided I had to know more about this project, so I contacted Adam to do a profile of the playwright profiler.

Adam, in the hat, in rehearsal for something. Found the shot on the blog.

Adam watching Kristen in rehearsal for something at a Flux retreat. Found this shot on the blog.

li88y
What made you start doing these playwright profiles?

Adam
I have answered this question a few different ways. This time I think I will say it was something I could do which I hoped would be valuable and also make me happy.

li88y
What do you think the value is? Playwrights getting some exposure? The blog reading public getting to know playwrights? I know that my profile made me feel connected to a wider community. How has it made you happy?

Adam
I think it is exposure for those that need it. A lot of lit offices google someone if they like a play and sometimes my interview is the first thing that comes up. My secret hope is that the blog will lead more people to care about plays and playwrights. Not sure that is happening though. The posts still inspire me and that makes me happy.

li88y
What brings a playwright to your attention for profile purposes?

Adam
I seek some people out. Sometimes I see something on Facebook or a PR person emails me or a theater announces something. It should be said I have a long list of suggestions and I am very disorganized.

li88y
So basically whatever grabs your attention grabs your attention, there’s no real formula to it. The more time I spend in theater, the more I realize that lots of decisions are made that way. With Sticky, whether it’s casting, or scripts, or directors, it’s like if someone we know is like “check out this person,” and that’s a category or person we need at that moment, we check it out right away, and usually offer them something immediately.

Adam
Yes. There are so many people doing what we do and so many circles people run in that lots of playwrights are overlooked. And of course there are some who don’t care about the interviews or are too busy when I ask or in the wrong headspace at the time to do it. Being a playwright is a juggling act and answering questions over email is not always the most important thing to do. Nor should it be. It’s about writing plays.

li88y
Do you plan to stop at any point or could it go on indefinitely?

Adam
I keep thinking I will stop but I’m not sure how to stop. There are at least 10k playwrights in the US alone. I’ve only interviewed about 5% of them.  I want to stop. I should stop. I have a baby I’m taking care of now and lots of projects demanding my attention. But I am posting another interview tomorrow.

li88y
I like this idea that you could actually catalog all the playwrights in the world. It’s a crazy thing, trying to make art slash keep up the appearance of being involved in making art, while taking care of a baby. When my son was an infant, I found that I was able to either really hone my project priorities, or be so indecisive about what to work on during those brief moments when I had time to myself that I got nothing done. What’s your experience been like?

Adam
At the moment when I get an hour I have three hours of work to do in that time. So there is no time to screw around. I’m trying to figure out how to do things in 10 min increments which is why I’m doing these comics now. But mostly I always am behind and fear I will miss all my deadlines.

li88y
What do you like best about doing the profiles?

Adam
I like finding out about people. A lot of different kinds of people write plays somehow. But we all have this love in common. I like the uniqueness of each and am almost always surprised by it each time.

li88y
Not to play favorites, but is there a moment in a profile that really stands out to you?

Adam
Oh I can’t do that. Wait yes I can. Read Mark Schultz’s interview and then read all his plays. Not enough people are enamored of him the way they should be. I just realized I’m promoting a white male. Also read the rest of the interviews. They are fairly ethnically diverse and I keep it pretty consistently half women. (Although I haven’t had time to count recently so I’m not sure where my numbers currently are.)

li88y
This was fun. Now I see why you’re hooked!

I couldn’t resist adding some images from the tumblr.

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