Donate Now

A Closer Look: Trees in their youth

Playwrights’ Corner
Dominic Finocchiaro

Dominic Finocchiaro is bringing his new play, Trees in their youth, to The Lark for a Studio Retreat Reading! Who were you in high school? What do you remember? What have you chosen to forget? Lauren Yee, Dominic's fellow Playwrights' Week 2014 alumna, interviews Dominic about his play, which follows four seniors as they navigate the perils of privilege, race, gender, and sexuality, and struggle to come of age in their cloistered Bay Area town.

Lauren Yee: The rhythm of your dialogue in this play and your other work is always so delightfully idiosyncratic. How do you build your characters' voices so clearly?

Dominic Finocchiaro: Writing is music to me, so I think of dialogue like a score. I care much more about how my plays sound than what they look like, which is probably to my detriment at times. I guess I just think that there is a sonic truth to be discovered and mined in language, a truth that underscores any narrative and emotional truth, and so I'm always excited to find ways to support that.

LY: There are several really compelling relationships in this play, but what was the first piece or conversation that you wrote?

DF: The first things I wrote were Sid's dance and Sid and Ramona's first scene together. I had the image of him in his mascot costume, still sweaty from making a fool of himself in front of the entire school, holding the head in his head while Ramona awkwardly stands by, and I went from there. I generally like to write a play from start to finish. I almost never end up actually being able to do that, but if I can start with a first(ish) scene then it at least gives me a stable groundwork that I can feel confident building onto. 

LY: Who is your dream cast for this play, regardless of age, gender, or type?

DF: I like the idea of actual teenagers being in the play. I just did a workshop of it at my alma mater, Reed College, so the performers were all between the ages of 18 and 22, and it was exciting to watch them bring a really physical and visceral truth to the roles. They just completely "got" the language from moment one in a way that totally blew me away. I want it to feel authentic and real, and so working with teens becomes an acid test of sorts for the play. As for Mr. C, I joked to Kristan (my director) that Weird Al would be my dream casting choice for him. I'd also kill to see someone like Rob Cordry or Michael Showalter take a swing at it. 

LY: When you were in high school, who was the classmate whose private life you always wondered about?

DF: I think I wondered about the private lives of my teachers more than that of my classmates. I had one English teacher, Mr. Lane, who was absolutely amazing and totally batshit. He was this middle-aged British guy in tweed, prone to complete non sequiturs, who would just randomly leave class in the middle of a sentence, only to return fifteen minutes later with no explanation whatsoever. I know he quit teaching, and I think he was trying to move to India for a while, and then was working on a farm in Napa Valley maybe? God knows what he's up to now. What was going on in his head? He introduced me to some of the most amazing books - To The Lighthouse, Dubliners, The Loved One. Godspeed in your adventures, Mr. Lane! 

"Trees in their youth" will receive a Studio Retreat reading on April 5th & 6th, 2016.  Click here to reserve your FREE seat!