Upcoming: Amélie (Broadway, Ahmanson Theatre, and Berkeley Rep). Recent credits include David Mamlet's China Doll (Broadway); Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles (Broadway); Bruce Norris’ The Qualms (Playwrights Horizons, Steppenwolf); Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance (Broadway); Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?(Broadway, Arena Stage, Steppenwolf; Tony and Drama Desk Awards, Outer Critic Circle nominations); Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park (Broadway, Mark Taper, Playwrights Horizons; Obie Award, Tony and Lortel nominations); and Sarah Teem’sWhen We Were Young and Unafraid (Manhattan Theatre Club). Pam is an alumna of the Drama League, the Women’s Project and Lincoln Center Theater Directors Labs; an associate artist of the Roundabout Theater Company; board president of the Society Stage Directors and Choreographers; and board chair of the New York City downtown company Clubbed Thumb, dedicated to new American plays.
Buoyant, amusing, vivid, tangy, beguiling, engaging, and rawly funny.
—Charles Isherwood, The New York Times
★★★★ Critic’s Pick! Bruce Norris is a master of peevishness and acrimony with bravura dialogue, perfectly set-up jokes, and juicy jeremiads. Pam MacKinnon directs a strong and frisky ensemble with her usual flair.
So people have been asking me a lot lately, “Why did you want to write a play about swinging? And how did you do your research?” Well… the thing is, it was never really meant to be about swinging. Not exactly.
One of the most distinctive aspects of Bruce Norris’s The Qualms can be ascertained visually just by skimming through the script. Every couple of pages you will find occasions where four or five characters speak simultaneously, represented in the script by those characters’ names spanning across one line. One can virtually feel the hew and outcry these various moments represent. What on earth could incite all this tumult? Well the answer is, of course, “sex.”
For the most part, since Ancient Greeks paraded across proskenions in their masks, the intent of satire has been to expose a world plagued by hypocrisy and hubris, in the interest of discrediting these ills. From Aristophanes to The Book of Mormon, writers have placed man’s folly center-stage in the interest of giving it a good flogging. But however scathing the ridicule, however harsh the mockery, the satirist’s aim is traditionally meliorative at its heart: surely with knowledge of our flaws, we can take ownership over them and correct them. Though we laugh like teenagers at the humiliation of Malvolio or the comeuppance of Tartuffe, these characters reflect writers who share faith in the essential corrigibility of man; faith in progress.
Armed with only a search engine and overwhelming curiosity, I set out across the murky vastness of the internet in a voyeuristic search for “swingers,” hoping to learn more about “swinging,” and am back to report my findings. I’m 24 years old and single.