Intersecting Lives, One Hallway:
Adam Rapp on extending moments and digging deep

by Julie Haverkate

in Interviews,Playwrights,TCG Books

Post image for Intersecting Lives, One Hallway: <br />Adam Rapp on extending moments and digging deep

Back in January, TCG published The Hallway Trilogy, a harrowing collection of plays by Adam Rapp that premiered, in rep, at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in 2011. The plays – Rose, Paraffin and Nursing – weave tales of love, torment and redemption in one Lower East Side tenement hallway over the course of a century.

Ever busy – the playwright-author-director just premiered Loitering with Intent, a film he directed, starring Marisa Tomei, Sam Rockwell and Natasha Lyonne, at Tribeca Film Festival last week – Adam was kind enough to take a few moments to discuss his new book.

Julie Haverkate: Can you talk a little bit about the title – The Hallway Trilogy – and why you chose to set the three plays in a single hallway?

Adam Rapp: I’ve lived in the same East Village apartment for over twenty years and one day, as I was walking up the four flights of stairs to my place, I was struck by the notion that in this very minor way I’d intersected with so many lives. There are only seven units in my building, and yet running into fellow tenants at the mailboxes and on the way up and down the stairs is this consistent narrative slipstream of formalities. But there’s always something lurking beneath the pleasantry. What’s registering on her face? Is she happy? Haunted? Indifferent? Has that couple just had sex?  Did the man below me in unit 4 just leave someone?

Julie Haverkate: What does this physical space, and its transformation across a century, mean to you?

Adam Rapp: I thought setting a series of plays in one of these transitional spaces would be an exciting challenge:  How to extend moments and dig deep with story and character. How to embrace the limitations of a non-descript, narrow space. And how to make a play feel inevitable. I was also interested in how the actual hallway would change over the course of a century. The doors and the analog public payphone and the light sources and the texture of the walls. And what doesn’t change? What’s forgotten? Which lives have haunted a building and which ones simply fade away?

Julie Haverkate: Clearly there’s a lot to be gained from seeing the shows in rep, but could these plays be produced singly?

Adam Rapp: I think the plays could be produced singly, but creating an acting matrix and a hundred years of history and figuring out how to get the thing up and running is sort of a little theatre miracle. At least it was when we did it at Rattlestick. And I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to take that kind of risk. It’s so fulfilling for an ensemble, and though it was difficult, I think our audiences appreciated the rigor and its rewards.

Adam RappAdam Rapp is a novelist, filmmaker and an Obie Award-winning playwright and director. His plays include the Pulitzer Prize finalist Red Light Winter, Nocturne, Stone Cold Dead Serious, Finer Noble Gases, Essential Self-Defense and more. He is the author of many young adult novels such as Punkzilla, The Buffalo Tree and Under the Dog, and he is the writer director of the film Winter Passing, starring Zooey Deschanel, Will Ferrell and Ed Harris.

HaverkateJulie Haverkate is the marketing associate at Theatre Communications Group. Previously, she has worked at Meadow Brook Theatre (Rochester, MI), as well as in the literary offices of Electric Pear Productions and the Summer Play Festival in NYC. Julie has lectured and presented at conferences internationally, and her book, PARADE Diverges, was published by VDM. In addition to dramaturging every now and again, she also reviews for Show Business and Broadway World and writes the blog Critical Confabulations. She is a proud alumna of Florida State University (M.A. Theatre Studies). Twitter:@CriticalConfab.