Richard Maxwell in The New Yorker Feb 11, 2015
The New Yorker Magazine profiled Richard Maxwell in 2014, before the premiere of "Isolde" at the Abrons Art Center:
Richard Maxwell is one of the more adventurous theatre artists that this country has produced in decades. Born in 1967, he was raised in West Fargo, North Dakota. He comes from a theatrical background. His father had a strong interest in the stage; his sister is the Broadway actress Jan Maxwell. Although Maxwell’s work is driven by narrative, it is very different than the musicals that his sister appears in to such acclaim. Maxwell’s work is about distillation. “I never tell people to avoid realism or naturalism or what feels natural,” he has said. “It’s just that I’m saying you’re not obliged to pretend that you feel something.” In Maxwell’s work, the script and actor live together in a generally bare space; the director finds the drama in being. To consolidate his vision, he founded the New York City Players, in 1999; one of his stars is his wife, the performer Tory Vasquez.
You often make a text as plain and poetical as possible. How do you reduce so many big ideas in your work? In rehearsal or purely through rewriting?
I try to listen to the room as much as possible. In writer terms, I know that can mean what other people think about the writing, but I mean how words are just like sounds and how they bounce around in the air. I also really care that things make sense, from a character point of view. Which doesn’t mean I’m always justifying the words psychologically. I like the tonal differences in how people communicate.
How do you cast? Based on looks or general feeling?
Yeah… I try to work with people who are genuinely curious and have the ability to forego what they know.
Read the rest of the article at The New Yorker.
Photograph by Richard Termine/The New York Times/Redux.