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The Subtext: David Adjmi’s Artist’s Heart

This month Brian talks to playwright and author David Adjmi about family pressure, falling behind, and filling a niche.

Each month Brian James Polak talks to a fellow playwright 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.

This month, Brian speaks with playwright David Adjmi, who’s just released a well-reviewed memoir, Lot Six (read an excerpt here). Adjmi talks about how his family pressured him to become like a Trump, though he had the heart of an artist. They talk about his playwriting, the court case he fought in defense of his play 3C, which he recalls giving him an opportunity to bond with Jane Ginsburg, daughter of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, while attending a writers’ retreat in Rome.

David’s writing has been featured or profiled in The New York Times, the NY Review of Books, LitHub, Electric Literature, American Theatre, BOMB, The Guardian, and the Rumpus. David Adjmi is the author of the plays The Evildoers, Elective AffinitiesStunning, 3C, and Marie Antoinette. His plays have been produced all over, including at Lincoln Center, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Steppenwolf, and Soho Rep. His newest play, Stereophonic, with music by Arcade Fire’s Will Butler, will premiere on Broadway in 2021, COVID permitting.

David discusses the decade he spent writing his memoir and how, in some ways, he thinks it caused him to fall behind some of his contemporaries who went on to writing careers in film and television. He talks about being described as “niche” in The New York Times and other publications, saying, “I can’t help it if I’m a Syrian Sephardic gay Jew.”

The episode can be downloaded here.

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