Each month on The Subtext, Brian speaks with a playwright about life, writing, and whatever itches we are scratching. On this episode, Brian catches up with busy playwright Nathan Alan Davis.
His plays include The Refuge Plays (Roundabout Theatre in collaboration with NYTW, now in previews), Nat Turner in Jerusalem (NYTW), The High Ground (Arena Stage), Origin Story (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), Dontrell Who Kissed the Sea (NNPN Rolling World Premiere), and The Wind and the Breeze (Cygnet Theatre). In recognition of his body of work, Nathan has received a Windham-Campbell Prize (2021), a Steinberg Playwright Award (2020), and a Whiting Award in Drama (2018). As a screenwriter, he has worked on projects for HBO Max, Netflix, AMC, BET, and Paramount. Nathan is an alumnus of the University of Illinois, Indiana University, and the Juilliard School. He currently serves as director of MFA playwriting at Boston University.
In this interview, Nathan describes being born into a family of performing artists. He recounts his childhood when his mother, working as a mime, brought Nathan into her performances; his earliest recollection is performing as an alarm clock in a skit his mother created for their Baha’i congregation. His father was an also actor and part of a local theatre company, but as his father, would say, “The talent to be able to do it isn’t really enough to make a life in it.” Later in the episode, Nathan notes how much his career has differed from that of his peers, because he married and started a family earlier than most. “So much of what we do is about timing,” he says. “When does your life align for this to make sense?” Nathan has never not been both a parent and playwright. He and his spouse now have three children, who, he says, have each played a part in his writing career. “The first child inspired it, the second refined it, and the third accelerated it,” Nathan observes. Nathan and his wife Liz talked early in their relationship about their life being an adventure. “It has not been easy,” he says, “but it’s a team effort.”
This episode can also be found here.
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