by M.Sebastian Araujo
They say all fiction was once truth…well if ever there was a writers paradise for story,charachter and ideas it is Provioncetown. Amid the flurry of activity and life some writers quietly go about their task with the savoring eyes of a lover finding their true love…Myra Slotnick is a playwright who lives year round in Ptown. I had a chance to find out more about what goes into the process of making Art while chatting with her…
What in the World around you affects your Creativity?
Absolutely everything. I often feel like a sponge, with regards to energy that is in my immediate, and not so immediate, surroundings. I am the kind of writer who needs complete and utter silence while I work, so that’s one challenge, but also, if there is a crisis happening somewhere nationally or globally…which seems to be the norm these days, that also effects my ability to immerse myself totally in my work. Also, dirty dishes…a coffee stain on my shirt…a picture that is crooked…a piece of lint on the floor…whether my dog had a good poop or not, can all be a potential disaster.
What changes do you see in the Theatre scene today…?
It is hard to be in Provincetown and not romanticize the immediate nature of fame and fortune in the late 30’s and 40’s…when playwrights like O’Neill and Williams would wash or train or drive ashore, and open their trunk full of plays, or scribble them down on a bar napkin or off in a dune and instantly be catapulted to the Great White Way. It seems insurmountable today, this…to get anything read or produced, to be championed, to see your work valued, to get paid for your work…the competition is fierce, and NY tends to gravitate to who they know…it goes the same for actors.
It takes a great and immense belief in oneself to continue to write. And a dollop of insanity.
My whole life experience has served me very well in my writing. At first, I found I needed to write a lot about my family, possibly to exorcise demons…to alleviate pain…to share grief…to grow up. I was thrilled when I realized that I wrote my first full-length play, The Weight of Water, and that it had nothing to do with my family. That was a real breakthrough for me, artistically. Of course all of who I am and everything I have been through, and all those who have touched my life, in one way or another, all show up consciously or unconsciously in my work
What makes Theatre tickets sell?
Who the hell knows?
After my brother died of AIDS I wrote a monologue for him, called The Last Thing, that appeared in an early Tennessee Williams Festival here, many years ago. The theme that year was “ghost plays”…so I imagined what my brother would have liked to say, upon his one moment back here on earth, on stage, in front of an audience. After the first performance I took a walk to O’Neill’s house in the East End, where I would sometimes go and secretly ask for help or inspiration. On this day, there was a single red rose in full bloom reaching way way way out over a white picket fence, and right in my path, eye level…and I knew it was congratulatory.
How hard is it for an Writer to survive in the world we live in today?
I don’t know how anybody has the courage to get out of bed some days, never mind survive as a writer. It is just something you have to do, if you have to do it. When I first moved to Provincetown I made a deal with myself that I would do anything I had to do to stay here…I would clean toilets, sling hash, twirl pizza or pick up trash…because it was where I wished to be more than any place else on earth. The same goes for writing. For many many years I had to steal time to do it. Now I get to write all the time, and it is a miraculous feeling.
What is it about Ptown that keeps you and other creative people living there or coming back ?
The sky! the light, the air, the sea, the people, the energy, the history. Also, Malasadas at the Portuguese Bakery.
If All the World is indeed a stage, Provincetown definitely sets the stage to inspire Art in many forms.Perhaps it will introduce a few new ones in the future.The Art of making Art may not be the easy life, but here in Ptown is sure is applauded and loved for its diversity of style and ideas that these days don’t always seem welcome elsewhere.In this tiny towny by the waters edge it is a way of life the people from all over the world come to again and again!