Theatre blogger (and actor/playwright) Zack Calhoun recently interviewed David Ian Lee on his Visible Soul blog. You should stop by there to read all of it, but here’s a highlight. (And there’s David with his son, Beckett, over to the left.)
How did you get started in theatre? What made you decide it was time to start writing plays?
When I was six years old, I visited New York, where my uncle was stage managing Cats at the Winter Garden; I remember sitting in the booth, touring the backstage area, and visiting the chorus girls’ dressing room… I grew up in Southern California, and started acting in community theatre and school plays, and at some point segued to semi-pro work and film and television. Assuming an actor’s lifestyle to be impractical – yet unable to imagine what I’d otherwise enjoy – I turned down several theatre scholarships and instead enrolled at a community college, only to later transfer to the University of Arizona’s Professional Actor Training Program. I thought I’d land back in L.A., yet when it came time to showcase I had leads in New York, and made the big move after an internship with the Milwaukee Rep in 2001.
Growing up, I wrote lots of short stories, and in junior high I made the local paper after I penned a novel. I briefly considered a career in journalism, but for one reason or another I stopped writing in my teens, and didn’t come back to it for almost a decade. Then, in 2007, after living abroad for many months, I returned to the U.S. to find acting work even harder to come by than it already had been; I couldn’t get arrested! Frustrated, I met in the spring with combat guru Rick Sordelet – a friend and mentor – who suggested I write my own material. At the same time, I found myself increasingly aggravated with what I viewed as our country’s astounding sense of apathy, misapplied rage, and willful ignorance post-9/11. After meeting with Rick, I booked a venue, then went home and began work on The Latchkey Pool, which was staged a month later. I then collaborated with a friend who had worked on the 19th floor of WTC 2, and we put up our play Liberty & Joe DiMaggio that September. In the five years since, I’ve just kept on plunkin’; in his very kind preface to the anthologized version of my play Sleeper, Mac Rogers described this phenomenon as the “unbottling” of stories I’d not told for so long.
PLEASE NOTE: In the interview, David mentions visiting Columbus in August, but we have since moved the show to February.