The play was actually inspired by a couple of different true stories [about sandwich franchises] that I read in the media. And then I sort of morphed them, and put them through the weird sieve of my twisted brain, and added a life-size sandwich. And then it became a play! It also came from my looking at what’s going on in the economy and what’s going on in the world, and the state of our culture—and wanting to respond.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
I’ve had a lot of really bad jobs. I would say the worst one was being a waitress in a Tex-Mex restaurant. Just a lot of greasy Mexican food. I gained like, no kidding, about fifteen pounds because I ate so many nachos all the time. And I also was a terrible waitress. I was always forgetting people’s orders, and then I would have to give them free dessert because their order had gotten messed up. So I had a lot of angry customers and angry management. And on the day that I was supposed to leave anyway—because it was a summer job, I had to go home—they fired me on my last day, just to make a point. Because I was that bad. I was like, “I’m leaving anyway! You don’t have to fire me!” They were like: “In case you thought you would have been allowed to stay on… It’s over.” Yeah. I ate so many nachos. So many nachos.
How did you get started as a playwright?
My start in playwriting actually came when I was getting an MFA in acting at Yale School of Drama. I had all these actor friends, and I wanted to write plays for them. So the first play that I wrote was for five of my classmates in acting school. And we got to do it in this little space where you could put up your own thing, and I was like, “This is kind of cooler than the thing that I’m in school for.” So that was the moment that really opened my eyes. And then I just kind of kept doing it from there, and writing parts for my friends. It’s fun to have an acting background and be a playwright, because I find myself really inspired by actors and by acting. I love watching their process. I feel like a lot of what drives me as a playwright is trying to create roles that are fun for actors and make them a little playground to play in.
What are the ingredients in your favorite sandwich?
I like anything with some melted cheese. I think my favorite sandwich is just a classic grilled cheese. In fact, grilled cheese is my biggest skill, to quote Sheri from the play. I put the butter on the bread, and then cheese in between. I use a multi-grain bread, and then I use a sharp cheddar. And then the butter’s on the outside. And then I perfectly calibrate the heat so it gets really gooey on the inside, while at the same time it’s really salty and crunchy on the outside. (It has to be a salted butter.) And it’s amazing. I can’t even make it for people because its power is so intense that it’s not fair. If I make it for anyone, they’re just under my spell. So I use that power very, very, very carefully.
Originally printed in Second Stage Theatre's blog June 2014.