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Playwrights' Perspectives

Marlane Meyer on The Patron Saint of Sea Monsters

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I don’t know why I write plays. I would prefer to write blockbuster movies that take two weeks and make me five million dollars. But when I sit down at the computer or the piece of white paper or the cocktail napkin, out comes a dialogue or an extended conversation about holiness, God, philosophy and crime, which in the world of my plays are all inextricably linked.

These touchstones with their infinite variations never cease to engage my wandering mind. The limitations I come up against are generally those of form and bone laziness. I know construction, but plays don’t always want formal construction, although it helps when you’re stuck and can’t drive the action. But the very best experience is when the form echoes the theme of the play in such a way that, to be honest, I could never have thought of it myself. I guess you could call it talent, inspiration, or magic but I call it that which writes.

That which writes has a very eccentric work schedule but that doesn’t mean I, as myself, the sluggard, don’t have to sit down everyday and lay the table and expect it to show up. It’s like a very bad boyfriend you’re nuts about. You make a million excuses for him, and curse the day you met, but when he does manage to find time for you, you write The Patron Saint of Sea Monsters.

There are many themes that make this play my favorite: the idealization of love, the quest for a spiritual identity, the need to integrate aspects of our nature we find scary, and the tyranny of the maternal. Although these ideas are serious, the play is, I think, quite funny. As I am funny. Dark minded but easily led to joking about the most serious of subjects. Not unlike the characters that inhabit the world of the play. Men and women who are indelicate, dangerous, full of mystery and sexy as hell.

Marlane Meyer
July 2013

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