Take Five

Five questions for Mark St. Germain


Mark St. Germain: Playwright Mark St. Germain has had a long and storied history with Barrington Stage Company and its artistic director Julianne Boyd. Indeed, the playwright has found an artistic home at BSC, which has mounted first productions of his "Dr. Ruth, All the Way," "Dancing Lessons," "Freud's Last Session," "The Best of Enemies," "Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah," "The Collyer Brothers at Home," "Ears on a Beatle" and "The God Committee." BSC also has put his name on the smaller of its two theaters — the St. Germain Stage in the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center on Linden Street in Pittsfield, Mass. Boyd first produced St. Germain's "Camping With Henry and Tom" at Berkshire Theatre Festival (now Berkshire Theatre Group) in Stockbridge, Mass., during her first season there as artistic director in 1993. The play is being revived at Barrington Stage's Boyd-Quinson Mainstage in Pittsfield, Mass., where performances begin Oct. 5 and continue through Oct. 23. Press opening is Oct. 9.

1. Why this play now?: The play is about what qualities a president, or any leader, should have. With the election so near it seems like it was written yesterday. There are many qualities of Henry Ford, who pursued a run for the presidency, that Donald Trump shares.

2."Camping With Henry and Tom" was first produced by Julianne Boyd in 1993 and then it opened Off-Broadway in 1995. How has the play changed, if at all, since then? Have you done any tweaking for this revival?: Very few changes, none that would stand out. The conflicts of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Warren G. Harding continue today.

3. So many of your plays deal with major real-life figures — Dr. Ruth, Freud, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, the characters in this play, Albert Einstein in your newest play. What is it about historical figures that fires your imagination and intellect?: I've always thought that if I'm going to spend months, possibly years, working on a play I want to be in good company. These people are all extraordinary in their own ways, and it's fascinating to get to know them in ways most people can't. To show sides to them that people don't. To see the world through their eyes. All of them have changed it.

4. Do you follow any particular regimen when you're writing?: When I was able to quit a 9-5 job and write full time I realized I had to work even harder to maintain that luxury. I decided to sit down at my desk every day from 9-5, minimum, and write. Write well, write badly, sit your ass in a chair and write.

5. What is it about playwriting, about making theater happen, that captures you?: I've written for film and television, but nothing equals the intimacy of theater and the way it activates the audience's imagination. Anything we watch on a screen exists whether we're there or not. Live theater needs an audience to make it live.


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