Playwright T. Adamson has entered the ring.
The Straights (https://www.thestraightstheplay.com/) is an epic play in the literal sense of the word as being a grand spoken endeavor. Grand in the literal sense of the word as being powerful in thought.
It follows millennial friends, Phoebe and Nina, as they navigate hitchhikers, shoplifting, drugs, and a flood of selfies on a cross-country no-boys-allowed adventure through the heart and heartlessness of the USA. This piece uses live action and video to bring about the dismantling of traditional American mythology by focusing its prose and politics on women, queer folx, non-human persons, and people of color as the primary subjects of the American democratic experiment.
And it all started thanks to the little election we had in 2016. Remember that?
Opening Thursday with the New York Times already reserving seats, Ai was lucky to get the playwright, T. Adamson, to jot down a few epic responses to our grand questions.
Tell us about yourself as an artist
As a writer I’m most interested in writing about complex challenging characters, particularly young people living in America right now. I feel people in their 20s and 30s are often depicted as vapid or self-centered in mainstream cultural narratives and I’m trying to counter those narratives by depicting young people in their full humanity, trying to navigate the difficulties of this economic and political climate. I’m also interested in plays that deeply explore the idiosyncrasies of modern speech and illustrate the ways in which everyday speech is rapidly changing in the digital era. I like subverting expectations and using bold formal gestures to inform the inner lives of my characters.
What made you write this play? Was it something you experienced? Is it a statement you’d like to make about our current State of affairs? Why the road trip motif?
I started this play shortly after Trump’s inauguration in 2017, which is also when the play is set. By whatever happenstance most of my best friends through my adult life have been queer women and it felt important to me at that time, as it does now still, to write a play that centers queer and femme folx and people of color- to firmly declare that these people are the real heart of this country, that the essence of this country is diversity and difference. I became obsessed with the road trip story as a distinctly American genre; there are so many narratives about young men finding themselves on the open road. I wrote this play as my counter-narrative about women living with the kind of abandon that the men in these classic road trip narratives take for granted. And I think there’s a little bit in the play of trying to hold myself accountable as a straight white man as well. Purposely writing people who look like me out of the story. I also just love road trips. I love long drives. I’m from Texas and I miss the wide open the road and the big sky that you rarely get in NYC. So this is both a critique and homage to typical road trip stories.
What do you want the audience to take away from this play?
I think the audience is going to takeaway whatever they takeaway! There’s so much going on in this play but the main thing I hope they take away is a sense of the richness and fullness of these human beings and the vastness and possibility that hopefully still exists in the United States. I hope the audiences feels like they met some interesting people- perhaps ones they wouldn’t normally spend time with- and that they spent some meaningful time with them and that meeting those people shifted their perspectives a bit.
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