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The Subtext: Kurt Chiang

He’s written more than 300 two-minute plays, but the artistic director of Chicago’s Neo-Futurists doesn’t consider himself a playwright. Brian James Polak finds out why.

The Subtext is a podcast where playwrights talk to playwrights about the things usually left unsaid. In a conversation that dives into life’s muck, we learn what irks, agitates, motivates, inspires, and ultimately what makes writers tick.

On the Subtext this month is Kurt Chiang, artistic director and ensemble member with the Neo-Futurists in Chicago. As a Neo he has written more than 300* two-minute plays since joining the company in 2008, and is the creator of the Prime Time show Analog (2013). Currently he is developing the recurring Neo-Futurist storytelling show The Arrow in collaboration with Lily Mooney. He has taught writing, performance, and Neo-Futurism as a guest teacher for many organizations throughout the city, including Louder Than a Bomb, North Park University, Lake Forest College, National High School Institute, and School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Kurt Chiang performs in “Analog” from the Neo-Futurists.

Brian and Kurt talk about what constitutes a “play” and how Neo-Futurists seek to subvert both what makes a play and what makes theatre. Despite having written hundreds of two-minute plays, Kurt is not quick to define himself as a “playwright,” and he discusses his struggle to define his writing in any specific to way. But if you know him, you know his work when you see it.

Download the episode here.

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*A previous version of this story stated that Kurt Chiang had written more than 250 two-minute plays. That’s an old statistic. He’s actually now written more than 300. Wow!

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