THE BABY PLAYWRIGHT
by Dale Connelly, 12/03/99
DC: Today's kids have economic muscle, and have become a primary
marketing target. Publishers and producers who are trying to get the attention
of this young audience are turning to artists, writers and actors who are also
very young. Shockingly, breathtakingly young. One of the most popular writers
of this new generation is Baby Claire, now 9 months old. Hello. Or should I say
Baby: Please don't. I can't stand that.
DC: For someone so young, you've produced a tremendous amount.
When do you feel you discovered your own voice as a writer?
Baby: Just after my lungs developed.
DC: In your prenatal phase alone ... several one-acts, poetry,
and nine full-length plays, like 'Look, A Toe,' the follow-up, 'Nine More Toes,'
the opera, 'WAAAAAAA,' and what critics consider to be your best, albeit, angriest
play, 'Out!' That was just before your birth, right?
Baby: Well, yes, I was in a tight situation.. Uncomfortable. Unhappy.
I needed release.
DC: Your work is so mature, yet, ironically, you yourself ...
Baby: (quickly, stepping on line) Premature. Yes I was!
DC: How does that work?
Baby: I've always been a good listener, even in the uterus. I had security there,
AND variety. Everywhere my mother went, I was sure to go. She was moving constantly,
interacting with others. A lot of my work is about a longing to return to that
DC: But aren't you glamorizing it? Wasn't it tight and confining?
Baby: Restrictions and boundaries can be freeing for an artist.
DC: Your plays use the very traditional three-act structure.
Baby: Three trimesters, actually.
DC: And lots of intermissions ...
Baby: Usually around 14 or 15. My mother ... I sat right over her bladder. Even
before I could write a play, I could cause an intermission.
I've always believed that form follows function, even bodily functions.
DC: Tell me about the muffled voice from off-stage ...
Baby: Yes, I'm glad you caught that. Many critics don't.
DC: That recurring voice in your plays, is that ... the father?
Baby: Um ... maybe. That's a valid ...
DC: Was your father distant?
Baby: Well, up until I was born, my father really wasn't there for me.
DC: And that voice in your plays is always ... kinda ... .
Baby: Muffled. A voice I don't understand. The part of me that lacks clarity,
that is confused, that is lost, that is adrift. A lot of my peers at
daycare had the same relationship with their father while in the womb.
DC: Since your work ... "came to light," so to speak ...
Baby: An incredible, blinding light, by the way. Nine months out and I'm still
not used to it.
DC: There have been many other pre- and post-natal success stories like yours.
For instance, Baby Sarah.
Baby: Oh ... Waa.
DC: She wrote 'Crayola Concubine,' and got a Tony for Best New Work...
Baby: To paraphrase Truman Capote, that's not writing, that's coloring.
DC: And yet she is the toast of this newest generation ... and some say your career
is already in the diaper pail.
Baby: There's no denying ... most of the work today is going to the new-borns.
Those of us who are older -- with more experiences, more maturity, and, to be
honest, ... almost walking -- are being tossed aside in favor of this new generation.
There is, sadly, a stigma for writers my age.
DC: Clearly this irritates you.
Baby: Just because someone is a year old, even two, who says we can't make a valid
contribution? That's ageism! Yes, I'm going to be a toddler! Does that mean my
voice must be silenced?
(starting to cry) We will not take the pacifier! We won't 'shush.' We won't settle
down and take a nap. We want to be heard. Heard and held.
[Continues to cry, becoming a standard-sounding baby cry]
DC: This is the sound of a new generation of artists.
Just like the Monkees of yore, they're the young generation, and they've got something
to say. Plus the determination to be heard. And a voice that will cut through
[Crying gets louder]
DC: (quietly, gently, fading out) It's okay ... don't cry ... here's a grant form.
Do you want to fill it out? Shall we fill it out together? That'll be fun. That's
a good baby ...
Dale Connelly Reporting Home