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Interview

Tim Sanford and Gina Gionfriddo

Tim: I always like to know how a writer comes to playwriting. It's always an interesting journey.

Gina: I was acting in high school and I thought I wanted to do that professionally. Then I went to Barnard here in New York, which was fortunate, because I was able to do a theater internship at Primary Stages and sit in on auditions. That kind of turned me off acting. That, in combination with an acting class I was taking at Columbia with an elderly professor who said I could only play ethnic types. So it was a very narrow range of roles I could do. And some of these ethnic teenager plays he referred me to frankly weren't very good. So I started thinking "Well, maybe I could try my hand at this." And Primary Stages was Off-Off Broadway at the time; they were doing brand new, hot-off-the-presses plays by fairly unknown writers. I got to watch writers rewrite their plays. That was very exciting.

Who were the writers in the season you worked there?

I was there a long time. Some of these names you're not gonna know. Joe Sutton—

I'll know them all. I remember when Casey Childs founded the place. He was at New Dramatists and the first play they did was by Lynn Alvarez.

Yeah that's before my time. The first play I was there for was Ancient History, by David Ives.

Yeah, we did a reading of that play.

We did a play by Stuart Duckworth called The Joy Solution, which I thought was phenomenal.

I remember him.

I don't think he's writing anymore.

Wait, was this after college?

I started interning there when I was a sophomore in college. And I stayed there through college and then, unbelievably, they hired me to be their General Manager, because you know, they didn't have any money at that time. So I wound up the General Manager of an Off-Off Broadway theater and I was completely not qualified. I did that for a while, and then fortunately we did a Mac Wellman play.

A Murder of Crows?

Actually it was after that, when we did The Hyacinth Macaw, that Mac said, "You know, I'll read one of your plays if you want." And that was the first playwright in all the years I'd been working there who had offered that. Maybe I wasn't telling people I was writing; it's hard to remember. But I told Mac, and Mac read a play I'd written and said, "You know, you really ought to get out of here and go to school, 'cause I think you're good." So I got out of there and went to grad school.

Where did you go?

I went to Brown.

Who was running the program then?

Paula Vogel.

Oh right, I forget how long she was there.

Yeah. But then she won the Pulitzer right after I got there so there was a semester or two when she was away and Mac Wellman filled in.

Who were the other students when you were there?

It was a small program and quite a few of them are not writing any more. I was in class with Alice Tuan, who is still writing. And Jake-ann Jones, who I don't think is. I'm still very close to Dennis Davis who is not writing any more.

Was the Brown program good for you?

It was great. It was great to have the experience of putting plays up without any money. And that's where I met Peter [Dubois]. We did my thesis play in a cafeteria that was no longer in use. It had just sort of been abandoned these and was asbestos falling out of the ceiling during the show. We bought the set at the Salvation Army. Brown was amazing training, but I'm so trained for poor theater now that I tend to dream pretty small visually. Also it was good to be out of the work force for a couple years and writing. You really need time to make mistakes and learn from them.

What was your thesis play?

It was U.S. Drag.

What were your plays like before U.S. Drag? Would you say you had a steady development? Did your voice come into focus gradually or were you trying different things, experimenting as a lot of young writers do?

The thing about me is that I'm not as prolific as a lot of writers so I don't actually have a lot of plays. The first play I wrote at Brown was a play about teenagers reacting to Kurt Cobain's death. That's actually a pretty good play and got me my first agent…

What's that called?

It's called Blue Movie. I remember I had a very honest rejection from The Long Wharf which was like, "Our audience doesn't care about Kurt Cobain." And I actually appreciated their candor. Susan Booth at The Goodman had a similar reaction. She called me and said, "This is not a play we would ever do, but I love it, so let me introduce you to an agent." Then the next play I wrote at Brown just wasn't very good. I think with U.S. Drag I started to come into my own voice.

Chris Durang first recommended that play to me. So for years I thought you must have gone to Juilliard.

I got to know Chris because U.S. Drag won the Blackburn Prize. He had been on the committee and he had championed the play. He told me that he had written a speech to read to the committee about why the play deserved to win, because comedies won so rarely. And he said he didn't wind up having to use the speech which was nice.

So what did you do when you finished Brown?

I stayed in Providence for eight more years! I had a three bedroom apartment for $550. So I thought, "You know, I don't have to work that much to make my rent, so I can write." So I stayed put. And I stayed put a little too long. I worked in bars so a lot of my friends were kind of bar flies. And I also nannied. Providence is the kind of place where you can live okay and not make a lot of money, so you can get really slack. And I was getting a little slack.

What kind of support system did you have?

I went to the O'Neill twice. And that was very, very important to me. I had a play called Guinevere that I went there with, and I went there with After Ashley in 2003. There was a chunk of time when I was living in Providence and going to the O'Neill and having a wonderful time but my plays weren't getting produced. And I thought, "What if my life as a playwright is that I get to go to the O'Neill?" And I thought, "Well, going to the O'Neill is pretty good." Jim Houghton was running it at the time and it was just nirvana for playwrights. But it was hard to see the plays not get produced. Eventually that changed but there was a stretch of time where going to the O'Neill was the goal I waitressed and nannied for. It was where I saw my plays come to life and I came to regard those as my productions, really. And I met the other playwrights that formed my support network when I was trying to write in the face of not getting produced. People like Brooke Berman, Cusi Cram, Victor Lodato. I met Adam Rapp there, and Adam sent my play Guinevere all over the place. And I met Tanya Palmer there, who was the Literary Manager at Humana. Humana loomed very large for me in the same way that Playwrights Horizons loomed very large for me because some of the plays that I had idolized had come from there. And so I began to send plays to Tanya, and After Ashley was accepted. The play did well there and things picked up for me.

There's a specter of violence in all the plays of yours I know, I don't know if that's something that preceded U.S. Drag. I always suspect it was one of the things Chris liked about it…

Oh, interesting.

…Because one of the seeds of comedy in U.S. Drag is that there's a serial killer on the loose.

Except he doesn't actually kill anyone. That's the thing. He's a serial attacker.

Right, but it's more about the relationship of these young women to each other and how they band together. There's a really dark world view at work here along with a kind of intractable sense of humor. I don't know if someone met you that they would necessarily guess how hilarious your work can be. Have you always been hilarious?

We were extremely surprised when we did After Ashley at Humana. When we rehearsed it we thought it was a drama, but when we got into production it was like Showtime at the Apollo. People were laughing so hard that we were gaining all this time. That very much came as a shock to us.

Did you feel that the dramatic side of it was being honored?

I did. I think it was just a surprise that people besides me thought it was funny. And I think when I'm working with Peter DuBois, 
Peter and I have the same dark sense of humor so Peter's in on the joke. I think with After Ashley nobody else was in on the joke until we got it before an audience.

I always thought After Ashley has a really ballsy premise. Here you introduce this vivid, amazing character and establish this deep relationship to her son, then you do away with her.

Some people said I stole it from Psycho.

Really? Except that is much later in the movie. Here it's after the first scene.

Ok... I'll take credit for it being a ballsy thing to do. It's certainly my 9/11 play. It also was me trying to grapple with my outrageous appetite for true crime. I wanted to look at that because I'm a little ashamed of it, but I remain, a big consumer of it. In fact, I remember an unfavorable review said that obviously everyone agrees that stuff like "Nancy Grace" is a bad thing. I was preaching the obvious. And I thought… That may be obvious, but I still can't stop watching her.

Now when you say it's your 9/11 play is that because the father wants to establish a monument?

Yeah, I felt like there was a pure response after 9/11 that, as time went on, became corrupted. The footage of the towers falling… If you just keep playing it and playing it and playing it, there is a way in which people will seek to be shocked by it. So for the image to retain its appropriate gravity and power you almost have to make it a forbidden image. Thinking about that got me interested in the way something that's genuinely tragic can be co-opted and mass-marketed and sucked dry of any meaning.

When the boy—what's his name?

Justin.

When he loses his mother, he's left with his father, which only makes him miss his mother all the more. And they get into a kind of battle over her memory, where Justin ironically fights his father's effort to memorialize her so that he can keep her memory.

There is this peculiar thing we do in America which is we make victims into superstars. That was what I wanted to get at with that character. This terrible loss has become the father's moment in the sun, perversely, and his son is enraged by that.

U.S. Drag has an aspect of that.

Totally. Victim/superstar. Yeah.

And what was the starting point for that play?

Those characters just kinda showed up in my head, the two girls, Angela and Allison. And they cracked me up because they were completely unedited. They didn't have the censor that people in a civilized society are supposed to have. They just asked for what they wanted. They said, "We're good-looking, we deserve money, we want this, we want that it was so much fun to just set them loose, you know?

Did you think of your self as a satirist at that point?

Not really.

What was the trajectory between After Ashley and Becky Shaw?

Becky Shaw was a Humana commission. I believe that I got the commission from you and the commission from Marc Masterson at Humana at the same time, and I recall both you and Marc saying you were concerned I was going to be derailed by the reviews for After Ashley. That was a great thing, then, to have two commissions I had to deliver.

Were you in danger of being derailed?

Little bit, yeah.

I really don't remember that review very much. I didn't see it in Louisville. I only read it, but I liked it even more when I saw it at the Vineyard.

It wasn't just one review. I think it was The New York Post who headlined their review, "TALK ABOUT A CRIME!" Like my writing that play was on par with rape and murder. It was really awful and we'd come in with all this fanfare. It was a shock. I think, I will never be shocked by a review again.

You said After Ashley was successful at Humana. Did it have a Times review there?

Yes.

Did the point of view change or did the reviewer change?

The reviewer changed.

So who was it at Humana?

Bruce Weber.

Oh so you, you and Adam Rapp have that in common.

Oh, was he an Adam fan?

Yeah. Bruce Weber kind of put Adam on the map with his Edge shows. Then when Bruce left, Adam lost his champion at the Times. A lot of people talk about "The Times," like it's one monolithic voice, and don't notice that their reviewers have different, and sometimes conflicting tastes. But fortunately, they liked Becky Shaw.

Yes.

Back to the violence question—Becky Shaw has its own violent streak too in that the two characters like to watch horror movies together.

Yeah, she's watching a true crime program in the beginning and then they watch a horror movie a little bit later.

And later there's a mugging. Were you developing your own theories of violence at this point? Like all the theory books that are talked about in Rapture, Blister, Burn?

Oh yeah. I mean at a certain point, you develop theories about violence partly to justify that you're reading and watching all this garbage—true crime and horror, that is. You seek out theory that supports the garbage having value.

That's what Don says in the play.

Yeah. I mean I really did read the stuff about the Hostel movies being a geopolitical critique of American interventionism. It's a fascinating theory. I can't imagine that Eli Roth had that in mind…

Isn't part of it just trying to top what's come before? Like what's more horrifying than the last genre?

It is a significant shift that torture horror is about young people going to other countries.

Where does the Saw series land in all that?

Saw is bizarre. The original Saw is like a Beckett play, or Sartre's No Exit. It's four people in a room and they're trying to figure out how they got there and why they're chained to the walls. The first Saw is existential and spare and the rest are just blood baths.

I happened to be flipping through channels yesterday and stumbled upon American Psycho for a couple of minutes, and I watched a few minutes in your honor—saw a kind of ridiculous scene with a circular stairwell and a buzz saw….

See I didn't respond to American Psycho because I don't like funny with my horror. I'm a horror purist, and that movie is very cheeky.

So let's talk a little bit more about how Rapture, Blister, Burn got started. You've said you were researching porn.

Yeah, it's like what I wrote in my Playwright's Perspective for the Playwrights Horizons newsletter. I was fascinated by the way the way access to pornography has changed in my lifetime. I was a child of the 70s; when we wanted information about sex, it was extremely hard to get. We would try to steal a Playboy Magazine or find a dirty book in the library. Now it's just like Sodom and Gomorrah at the click of a mouse. And I am fixated by the idea that there has to be some hideous psychological trickle-down from that. I read a lot of books about the impact of Internet pornography and what I found was there are books that say it's the end of American civilization and there are books that say it's no big deal and there are books that say nobody knows. So it was a fascinating thing to research, but I didn't come away with any useful conclusions.

Were you doing research to investigate your own feelings about it?

A little bit.

And where did you come out?

I came out feeling like that William Burroughs quote about why heroin shouldn't be legalized. He says, you know, it should be illegal because it's so good we cannot control ourselves if given access to it. Part of me thinks Internet porn ought to be against the law because it's dangerous to our souls, but I also don't want to live in a country that makes those decisions for us. I do think there is danger to it, in terms of desensitizing people to the fact that other people are humans and not just images for our use.

So as a citizen, what do you feel?

I feel like Pandora's Box has been opened. Naomi Wolf points out that back in the 70s, the fear was that pornography was going to make men rapists and sex criminals. But this is before the Internet. Now, Wolf thinks, the danger is kind of the opposite. It's turning men off to real women because they have a relationship with sex that doesn't come from anything real.

But isn't the age of first sexual experience with young people…

Lower and lower? Yeah. Well Naomi Wolf also did this whole college tour where she argued for a return to courtship and hand-holding and letter writing. And it sounds really cheesy but I think there's something to it. It's one of the things I was getting at a little bit with the Avery character in this play. When all the taboos are gone and chastity is out the window, where does it leave you? Does it leave any room for love and romance? How do you learn to have a meaningful relationship when you've been screwing around since you were twelve? It's like trying to put the genie back in the bottle. I don't know how you do it.

Well you know Avery sort of discovers how interesting minds can be.

Right.

And Alice has that line about exercises in illusion, well that's true of all human beings. We all create our own illusion.

Well Avery also loses her boyfriend to a Mormon. So I think part of the lesson is that there is something to be said for withholding. Withholding's the wrong word. There's something to be said for intimacy being earned and cultivated over time..

One of the other things we both talked about in the newsletter about your work is your ambivalence. Like Becky Shaw, the character, seems a prime example of that. She's such a complicated character; we just don't know where we stand with her.

Right.

And I think that's common to a lot of your writing. There's a satirist's edge to things, but a real seriousness as well.

Yeah. You know I did an interview with Alexis [Soloski], and she said, "It's clear to me that Annie Baker loves her characters. I'm not sure if you love your characters." And I do. I do. I think there are playwrights who don't. And I think my characters can be a little bit brutish, but I don't believe I put bad guys on stage. I have empathy for everyone I write about.

The fact is that Becky's backstory is fully fleshed-out, and it's sad.

It's sad. I think she exaggerates and embellishes, but I do think she has had a very hard time.

And in this play, the characters have had a hard time, too. That's what you're writing about.

Yeah I was very worried about how audiences would react to Don. I actually had an actor who auditioned for the role tell me afterwards, "Oh, I had to do so much work to find what was good about that guy." And I thought, "Oh, no!" Because I have tremendous empathy for him.

Talk about that.

I think it's very hard to have great expectations and have them dashed. I think Don was in the position, at 25, where he was hot shit in school and assumed he'd have a great career. When that didn't happen… I think that some people just don't get back up from being knocked down like that. And I think he's one of them.

Do you think it's harder for him because he's male? Would people think he was a loser if he was a woman with the same career path?

I wonder. You know I was talking about this with Lee, the actor who plays him. A lot of charges are leveled against Don in the play, but you know… He's faithful, he's making a certain amount of money, and he's a good father. We found in casting that a lot of actors just didn't want to play a guy like that at one point, I said to Peter, "Any of those actors would play Hannibal Lector. Any of them would play a serial killer. But they won't play a garden variety loser."

Yeah that's true isn't it?

Yeah, I think it is. Lee is a gutsy man.

And you know what Alice says about him. It's a joke at men's expense when she says, "that kind of consideration seems remarkable in a man." But he is trying to be honest. Not very many guys could have their wife say, "Yeah, he sits and watches porn for hours on end" and come out and say "Yeah, okay," and own it. Especially in front of a beautiful woman he still wants. There's something pretty interesting about that to me.

What aspect?

His self-knowledge.

Yeah. Yeah.

I mean he's not so self-knowing that he doesn't make a big, deluded leap into romance and try to recapture his youth, you know.

Right but I think that he figures it out in a couple months rather than a couple years. I think he has quite a bit of self-knowledge.

In the talk-back the other night, you said when you abandoned the idea for a porn play; you knew you just had to start something. It sounded a little bit facetious but a little bit true, as well. How did the current play start?

I think I had the germ of a situation: Catherine coming home. And I knew that I wanted this stuff to be Catherine's area so that all that research wouldn't be in vain. And it sort of spun out from there.

You mentioned you were about to have a baby when you were writing this.

Yeah. Well, the play was very much written when I didn't know if I was going to have a baby. Actually, full disclosure: I wrote a lot of it when I was pregnant and then had a miscarriage and then I wrote it for a while and had another miscarriage. So while I was writing a lot of the play I didn't know if having a baby was going to happen for me or not. I was engaging with the possibility of it not happening, of seeing my parents die and not having another generation. But I don't feel like that's really on the page so much. What's that famous quotation about poetry? Emotion recollected in tranquility? You're supposed to have a certain amount of distance from intense feelings like that. Like, I was very clear I didn't want to write a character who wanted a child. I'll write that play in 25 years or something.

Catherine's desire is more for a stable relationship.

Yeah, the relationship she's had with her mother has been almost like a marriage. They bicker like a married couple and they're on the phone all the time. They are each other's significant other. So that's the role Catherine is wanting to fill. Now the question has come up, because it's a play about people around 40, why isn't there more talk about having a baby? I think that Catherine's smart enough to know that she's too focused on herself. That's not what she wants. She wants another person to give her support. An adult person.

It's not even a question of children for Gwen. She doesn't really regret her children. It's more about the choice of shackling herself to the one guy.

Yeah I definitely wanted to put those two women who had done such different things up against each other to talk about what was good about their choices and what hasn't been.

How do you feel about Gwen?

I think Gwen is one of those people whose whole adult life has been about holding things together. Like we all know these people who are attached to someone in disarray, like Don, and outside of the job of keeping that messy person together, they don't really have anything they like to do. They're bereft when they don't have that caretaker function. So that's what I was interested in with Gwen. What if she was given an apartment and money and some freedom to have the stuff she missed out on. Ultimately she doesn't want it.

Well the other thing I recognize in her, as someone who lives in Park Slope, she's like that super-conscientious mom who channels all their professional energy into being sort of perfectly enlightened super moms. Like it starts with her reaction to Avery's black eye.

Yeah. Isn't Park Slope where you just had the ice cream truck controversy?

Exactly.

Okay, that would be it.

Why don't you share the story?

Yeah, it was Park Slope where parents wanted to get the ice cream truck banned from the park because they didn't want to have the argument every day with their kids about why they couldn't have ice cream.

Isn't that hilarious?

Well, yeah. It is.

You do have strong relationships with mothers in many of your plays.

Well I'm very very close to my mother. It's a very important relationship to me. But I haven't written about her. She's nothing like the mother in Becky Shaw and she's really not very much like Alice. I'm almost phobic about writing straight-up autobiography. I think it's almost always a terrible mistake.

People really eat up Alice.

That's a shock. Shock.

Did you know? Did you foresee the audience reaction?

No. Shocked. Shocked, shocked, shocked.

I was pretty surprised myself.

We even had concerns in the room that we didn't want the actress to feel the role was thankless. You know Beth herself is a feminist and she is politically active. And here we were giving her a character who says, "I just wanted to take care of my baby." We really found the depths of that character in the rehearsal room. We found it with Beth. But no, we did not expect the audience to have that reaction to her.

It's pretty interesting. I think one thing that Beth does is she really takes seriously the character's attachment to her daughter.

Yeah, yeah.

And that's really important. So she is a character with stakes. You know? She's also smart. When she's drawn into the conversation, she has this way of disarming the ideas through her seemingly naïve posture yet she clearly has plenty on the ball and has a lot to say.

Yeah and Beth is very funny. That helps.

Yeah it's a kind of gold mine.

It is. But I can never predict audience response. When we did Becky Shaw, we were terribly concerned that the audience was gonna hate the Max character. Then we sat in our first previews… I remember Peter turning to me at the first preview and saying, "They're gonna be really mad when he doesn't get the girl." And so it was with every audience. They loved Max. So you can't predict.

In the article you wrote for the Times you've talked about the similarities people have found in your play to The Heidi Chronicles. And we experienced that at a talk-back, well before you wrote the article. It's a play deeply informed by feminist ideas, yet here we are 25 or so years later, and it seems in some ways we've stood still on some of these issues.

What I learned revisiting The Heidi Chronicles is that some of the stuff in that play is more about gender and temperament and age of life than about the era in which Heidi lives. I think 21 year olds always think they know exactly what they're doing. And 40 is always a time when we're looking back and doubting..

Still, some of the similarities are uncanny. I think it was Alexis who pointed out in her article the comparison between Scoop Rosenbaum saying, "I don't want to come home to an A" and something Don says about, "If I'm honest, I probably wouldn't have wanted to have to keep up with you…"

What's funny about that is one of the things I read as I was writing it was a study—I think it was at Carnegie Mellon and it predates the Sandra Bullock Oscar fiasco. This study looked at female Oscar winners—

The fiasco being her husband having an affair?

Yeah. They looked at female Oscar winners since the 30s and found that they get divorced in like… droves, and the same is not true for the male Oscar winners. It's very interesting.

And your conclusion is that men can't stand their wives to—

That's probably part of it. I think it's also partly geographical. I think there's probably an element of some men not wanting to be the second banana in the relationship. But I think there's also—and this is something I try to get at in this play—that two equal partners often have just… geographical issues. If you win an Oscar then you're shooting movies all over the world all the time. You have all these opportunities. So maybe it's not the insecurity of the partner so much as you're not spending any time together. So I think it's both of those things… It's how do two empowered people negotiate the geography of what they want to do, and I guess for some men, it's not wanting to be the B to the A in the relationship professionally.

So for you the resemblance of the play to The Heidi Chronicles is primarily because there's a similarity in the trajectory of the character as she ages, or is it dealing with feminist questions?

They're both academics. They both have dialogue with an ex about why it didn't work out. And there are these bouncy 20-something characters in Heidi as well…

You've said that the title of the play came from a Courtney Love song. Was that something you came across when you wrote your Kurt Cobain play?

I knew about her already. I was a fan before he died. That music was very important to me.

So is Rapture, Blister, Burn the title of the Hole song or is it just a lyric?

It's a little piece of the chorus from a song called "Use Once and Destroy." And it sounds to me like it's about Cobain. It says, "Take your rapture, blister, burn. Stand in line, it's not your turn." There's a resentment theme that runs through her songs after his death. It's kind of like, "Yeah, I love you, but your suicide really stole my spotlight." I think it's a song about wanting to be first and not forevermore the widow in the shadow of greatness. I always loved that tension in her lyrics. She has a great lyric in that song, "I will follow you anytime anywhere." And it's a great lyric, I think, because it means (I think) two things simultaneously. I love you enough to follow you everywhere and also… It sucks that my story will always be a footnote to yours.

And how is that reflected in the play?

It's about what it means to follow a partner, to walk behind him or her sometimes. Don doesn't want to do it, finally. I also just fixated on the image of something bright and beautiful crashing and burning. Whether it's the feminist movement or Catherine's career, it's about the way big, glorious successes tend to have ugly hangovers and fallout.

One of the scenes you've worked hardest on has been the second scene in the first act: the classroom scene. It's great that we get to see Catherine in action, just like we see Heidi in action when she gives her art history lecture. But here it's a scene with other characters. And it's so full of ideas, unapologetically so. You've worked hard to edit it down, but it has an important structure in the way each of the other characters engage with her ideas, from Gwen to Avery to Alice. So there's only so much you could cut. But I've been so encouraged by the audience's response to it. It just feels like there's a real appetite for these ideas. And we've encountered almost no resistance to it.

I know. That's been a great surprise.

Of course we had no way of knowing that since we programmed it, it's suddenly become surprisingly and upsettingly topical.

Yeah. With the war on women and all that , I know.

You told me when you and Amy [Brenneman] talked about the part she brought up the ending with you, like she couldn't quite tell if it was a downbeat ending or not. And there's certainly a lot going on in the final scene. Where did you first want to go with that scene, and where did it end up?

You know it was really the same thing I felt with Becky Shaw-- that I was setting a romantic possibility in motion and I was going to be open to the possibility of it going either way. So I was open-minded about whether it was going to work out or not for Cathy and Don, and it ultimately made more sense for it to not work out.

So then how did you find the tenor of the final scene? Did you start with Catherine feeling devastated? Or is it that Catherine sees reality or….

It started with devastation but then you have to ask yourself what's the next step? Where do you find hope? And one of the factors in deciding how to end the play has been that the Avery character, in part because we worked with Virginia Kull from the very first reading, has such a strong presence; her energy buoys Catherine up. That's what's fantastic about the horror scholarship that closes the play. It really spoke to the stage picture I wanted which was something about women without men who are both frightened and excited by what their future holds...

And her mother buoys her up too. I mean think that's one thing that's very different about this play from The Heidi Chronicles. Well there's no mother character in The Heidi Chronicles, and the twenty-something characters never rise to the kind of stature that Avery has. You talked about how the relationship between Catherine and Alice is almost a love story too.

Yes.

But also, Avery and Alice bond together too. It's one of the sweeter aspects of the play when they see things similarly.

Yeah and I liked the final image of these three women of different generations who are all alone and deciding what does life look like if it isn't a marriage and children?