Get to Know… Patrick Shaw, Playwright

How long have you worked with FullStop?
5 years? I’ve been working with FullStop since before we were sure we would be called FullStop and have acted, directed, and written for the group. It’s been a joy.

What has been your favorite part of the rehearsal process so far?
My favorite part of writing plays is always when I get to show up and just watch rehearsal. For me, it’s the best feeling in the world to see how such a smart, creative crew of artists can teach me how my story works. This process for me has been especially enjoyable since I’ve gotten to play accompanist for most of the rehearsals, so my life has been filled with MUSIC!

What are you doing when you are not acting/directing/designing?
I have this amazing day job. I work for the Eugene O’Neill Center as one of the recruiters for the theater training program where most of us FullStoppers first met each other, the National Theater Institute. This involves traveling around the country for months at a time, teaching hundreds of workshops in improvised movement and theatrical composition, and talking with students and faculty about a program and art form I love.

Why did you get into theater?
I got into theater through a fluke of extra-curricular activities, social groups, and a sneaking suspicion that I really don’t like doing that much else. I love making art among friends.
In addition to being fun, I do think there’s something societally important going on here as well. I listen to music as I write emails, read subway advertisements, and have conversations. I watched the second half of the Panic Room on HBO a few days ago and didn’t even wonder what happened before I got there. My cell phone is ALWAYS within arm’s reach and I use my facebook-feed app as a consciousness place-holder. I am exceedingly distractible and am usually too distracted to care. That’s why I think plays are more necessary than ever for America. The live theater is one of the only places I can go where I show up just to listen, watch, and quietly consider one full continuous story from beginning to end in the space of a few hours. What a great thing to do for our brains!

What is your vision of utopia?
Oooo that’s tricky. Off the top of my head: A world (I think it would have to be global) where the health, welfare, and freedom of the citizens are protected by the state, and where people can pursue productive, meaningful lives in a responsible society. I think in order for anything like this to happen, there would have to be a societal mindset of humility, compassion, and responsibility. I also personally believe that we would need to develop some kind of symbiotic relationship with the natural environment.

If you were king/queen of the world, how would you solve our global warming crisis?
Some people think it’s already too late to reverse what we’ve done. (Is it the 29th day yet?) If it is possible solve this prob, it will no doubt take hiring many many seriously genius people, and at some point, I would probably to require a great number of people with great amounts of money to dramatically change the way they do business in ways that may be less lucrative for them, at least temporarily.

Along those lines, what else would you do as king/queen of the world?
First of all, I hope I’d be smart enough to recognize that I’m under-qualified for the position. But if I had to, I’d probably redistribute vast portions of the world’s wealth so people living in the third world could have things like clean water, mosquito nets, and cliff bars. No doubt, I would make really bad business decisions, but hopefully for the sake of good social welfare. I would almost certainly have to be incredibly unfair to make the world more fair. Not that unfairness in the world is a new thing….
And I second Hashimoto’s nuclear proliferation.
Also, we’ll be expanding music and arts programs in elementary schools.

Ever been to Brazil? How about Jacksonville?
I have lots of wonderful family in Florida, and although they all love it, I find the state’s general aesthetic (sunsets aside) to be careless, inefficient, and – overall – hideous.
I’ve never been to Brazil, though. In fact, sans spell check, I would probably spell Portuguese “Portugese.” I do hear it is a lovely country to visit, and I know their government is designing very creative programs to deal with their huge social/economic problems. But really, the show is not about Brazil at all, so I don’t feel terribly under-researched. It’s about noticing when your hunk of clay is a little overworked and that maybe it would be better to just start over from scratch. Or maybe rather to know that if you were brave enough to take the first scary step you KNOW you need to take, the world would stand a chance of supporting humans a little longer.