Q: Tell us a bit about the connection between 4000 MILES and AFTER THE REVOLUTION? Why did you decide to write a second play that featured the same character? Might you write a third play featuring Vera, or a second featuring Leo? Are there any other playwrights who have repeated characters in a way that you admire?
A: AFTER THE REVOLUTION and 4000 MILES are both about the semi-fictional Joseph clan, and Vera, the step-matriarch, is the only character who appears in both plays. 4000 MILES takes place several years later, when Vera is older and more isolated and the memory of her late husband, Joe, is more remote. Nearly all of her contemporaries have died, so she no longer has many people around with whom she shares a common language.
4000 MILES is a smaller, more minor key play than AFTER THE REVOLUTION, about Vera's relationship with a grandson who briefly becomes her roommate. I don't remember deciding to write another Vera play, but it was while I was in Williamstown working on the first workshop of After the Revolution that I learned that my cousin's best friend had suddenly died. This cousin is close to ten years younger than me, and I had always absolutely adored him. It hit me very hard that he suffered such a terrible loss at such a young age, and an age that is such hell anyway as you're trying to piece together who you are and what your future might look like. So this play began to take shape in my mind, and I guess the idea of grief and loss exerted some kind of gravitational pull on Vera, who ended up there too.
Two of my closest playwright friends have written plays with interconnected characters. Tarell McCraney wrote his Brother/Sister plays while we were in grad school together, and I admired the robustness of the world he created and the emotional texture that emerged over the course of those plays. Annie Baker has written a series of plays in the fictional town of Shirley, Vermont, that are only tangentially related to each other, but the cumulative effect is still very moving. Both Annie and Tarell wrote three related plays, and I don't know yet if I have a trilogy in me...I hope so. I don't feel completely done with these characters yet.
More to come!