Advertisement

Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Interview: Allen Zadoff

posted by Nell Minow

Thanks to Allen Zadoff, author of the terrific new book, My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies, for answering my questions!

The actors and techies don’t speak to each other in your book, but one character says that in her other school, they are on friendlier terms.  What is the more typical relationship, and why?

Advertisement

There are a lot of variations on the theme.  In my novel, techies and actors are at war. That’s definitely the extreme.  In a perfect world, techies and actors work together as part of the same team. It’s synergistic and there’s mutual respect.  Think about Spiderman on Broadway. The actors’ survival literally depended on the tech crew!  In many theater programs, actors are required to do some tech work, and techies will do at least a little acting. It’s much easier to respect someone when you’ve walked a mile in his shoes, right?  In the real world, my experience is that there’s often a divide between the two cultures.  I’ve been on both sides of it as actor and as stage manager.  There’s tension, even if it’s unspoken. In My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies, I took that tension and magnified it.

Advertisement

The perspective of a lighting tech, hidden from the audience and looking down on the show, is something like the perspective of a writer and his characters and story.  How did your experiences as a tech help your observation skills and insights as a writer?

My real observation skills come from being an overweight kid, a subject I wrote about in my first novel Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have. As a heavy kid, I was a loner and I spent a lot of time watching the world go by and fantasizing about what it would be like to join it. It made for a painful adolescence, but in hindsight, what better training to become a novelist?  I drew on that experience as well as my theater background to create the characters in Life/Theater.

Advertisement

Adam and his best friend Reach have to renegotiate their relationship in the story.  Is that an inevitable part of growing up?

I think when you’re a kid, relationships are on autopilot. (Wait, that’s true for a lot of adults, too!)  You don’t examine the relationship; you just have it.  Then something happens that shakes you up.  Your friend falls in love. You have a fight. You lie. You get betrayed.  Suddenly you wake up to the relationship, what it means in your life, and what you want from it.  That moment of waking up could be called maturity.

What do you like about writing for a YA audience?

The YA audience is passionate in a way no other audience is.  It’s not just the teens. It’s the librarians, the parents, the bloggers, the booksellers.  They’re not YA readers. They’re YA fans and aficionados. I can’t think of a better audience with whom to share my books.  I feel lucky to be a YA author.

Advertisement

What were the books and movies you most enjoyed as a teenager?  

The films of John Hughes were very influential for me when I was a kid.  “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, even Uncle Buck. (Oh, I miss John Candy.)  Although I was a voluminous reader and could tell you all the novels I read and loved, these films were my YA.  Funny, real, and heartbreaking. I try to capture those same dynamics in my novels.

Advertisement

You and Adam share initials — did any of the experiences in the book happen to you?

Here’s a little secret. I share initials with all my heroes. So I’ll just say this in response to your question.  My first kiss happened in the theater. To everything else, I plead the Fifth.

Why did you choose “Midsummer Night’s Dream” for the play?

Actually, Midsummer chose me. It’s always mysterious where these things come from, and I was in the early stages of planning Life/Theater, trying out different plays, when Shakespeare popped into my head.  I had the image of the lovers in Midsummer running through the forest in the dark, confused by shifting passions, shocked by sudden loss, unsure whether they were awake or dreaming.  Those same themes were the ones I wanted to explore in the book.  Here’s a little inside scoop for readers: Check out the chapter titles in the novel.  Every one is a line (or phrase, or partial line) from Midsummer. I’ve used Shakespeare’s text in a very modern way, something like sampling in hip hop.

Previous Posts

Dick Van Dyke to Guest Star on "The Middle"
My all-time favorite sitcom is "The Dick Van Dyke Show."  Though I've seen every episode many times, I still watch them on Hulu.  And some of the best were the ones featuring Van Dyke's real-life brother Jerry as Rob Petrie's brother, Stacy. ...

posted 8:00:06am Apr. 20, 2015 | read full post »

The Hobbit: The Definitive Movie Posters
The Hobbit: The Definitive Movie Posters is a gorgeous new book and a must-have for all would-be denizens of Middle Earth. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTI5XHs-odg[/youtube] ...

posted 3:16:48pm Apr. 19, 2015 | read full post »

Ebertfest #3 -- The "Ida" Panel
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yk2--Y8hfqQ[/youtube] Thanks to Matt Zoller Seitz, Sheila O'Malley, and Todd Rendleman for our superb discussion about this year's Oscar winner for best foreign language movie, "Ida." ...

posted 8:59:24am Apr. 19, 2015 | read full post »

Movies vs. Science -- The Worst Science Mistakes on Film
The Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum used to have a great little video with a claymation Albert Einstein shaking his head over the many mistakes in sci-fi movies. "They're breaking my rule!" he exclaimed. As the animated genius went on to ...

posted 8:00:59am Apr. 19, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Ant-Man
Okay, I admit I was skeptical. I was thinking along the lines of Teeny Little Super Guy from Sesame Street. But I love Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Corey Stoll and this trailer has me sold. [iframe width="560" height="315" ...

posted 3:25:31pm Apr. 18, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.