Grew up in: In New York and Mexico.
Creative beginnings: When I was about seven or eight, I used to invite friends over to do West Side Story in my living room. Many years later, I suddenly found myself working on Broadway musicals.
Playwriting inspiration: One thing that empowered me was growing up with a political mother who was not afraid to speak, even when that was dangerous. As a young actress, I was nurtured—and produced!—by Wynn Handman, an acting teacher who saw that the comedy I was writing for myself was actually pretty serious. Irene Fornes was an important mentor and a role model who taught me that having “a voice” is everything. And Gordon Davidson, a producer deeply committed to social change, produced four of my plays at The Taper in L.A. In terms of life experience, I think what affected my work most was growing up in two cultures, carrying two perspectives, which is a lot of internal drama in itself.
Writing process: Please. Don’t ask. It involves cookies. It involves stealing time. When I am employed, it starts in the morning. I appreciate the quiet. When it’s going well, it’s like listening and writing down what the characters say. And then looking at a first draft and seeing what the piece itself really wants to say.
The origin of your play Side Effects May Include...: My son was injured by a medication. It sent us on a Kafkaesque journey toward a diagnosis. And it made me look at everything differently…pharma versus the natural world, psychiatry, capitalism, motherhood, love, the limits of love, religion, marriage…life.
Favorite moment or line: There’s a scene between the mother and a psychiatrist who has diagnosed her son with “Adjustment Disorder,” and the mother asks, “Adjustment to…what?”
Hope for audience takeaways: I hope we will all actually read that little piece of paper that lists the side effects of our medication. You go first, sometimes I’m too chicken. I hope the audience will have an understanding of akathisia because many, many thousands of people are suffering from it. And that suffering is being covered up by those who value profit above healing. I hope to increase compassion for the complexity of the human condition—which is a notion I got from Father Greg Boyle when I was working on Roe, that pretty much sums up my goal with any play.
Most looking forward to at ANPF: The play has never been spoken before this brief rehearsal time and reading. I am so curious about the audience’s reaction. Will it make people uncomfortable? Will they go on the ride anyway? Will they feel free to laugh? And what will they add to the conversation?