This edition: John Patrick Shanley & Kenneth LonerganTweet
Original tape date: February 4, 2014.
First aired: February 7, 2014.
This episode of “Irish Writers in America,” a new 13 part series from CUNY TV (City University of New York television station), features interviews with John Patrick Shanley, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Academy Award, and Tony Award, and Kenneth Lonergan, winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Drama with multiple Pulitzer and Academy Award nominations.
John Patrick Shanley talks about his poetic interest in Facebook, growing up with a huge Irish family, choosing to write about Italian culture instead, learning to let his characters speak at length, and the emotional experience of going from little-known, broke New York playwright to winning an Academy Award for Moonstruck. He tells the story of deciding to change his circumstance by focusing on playwriting and how he began Doubt with little more than the title, the image of the nuns’ bonnets, and a sense of unease about people’s need for certainty. Discussion of the importance of the audience and the uniqueness of a given night’s performance provide a view of the source of his love for theater.
Kenneth Lonergan discusses the difference between an art film and a mainstream movie, what it’s like working on one versus the other, and the importance to him of both his Irish and Jewish roots. He discusses criticism his work and characters have received over the years, the idea of privilege, the guilt that can come of having been born to an upper-middle class family, and the motivation to get down on the page the way people really speak, even – or especially - if that means they talk over one another. The story of his friendship with Martin Scorsese and how he came to write Gangs of New York provide an insight into the real workings of Hollywood filmmaking.
Featuring two playwrights turned filmmakers and speaking from their respective beautiful New York apartments, this episode covers everything from finding your way creatively to negotiating with major movie studios for fair pay.