What do you write, and what, specifically, are you working on now?
I focus on the subject of escapism, and often employ surrealistic measures in order to reflect a character’s interior state of being in the exterior world—the exterior world being the stage on which the work is presented. My format is playwriting. Currently, I am working on two projects: SOS Chatroom and Dancing with the Shadows under a Mushroom Cloud. SOS Chatroom is lighthearted comedy about five strangers meeting online and then in real life to commit suicide together. Dancing is still in the secretive stage.
What do your first drafts typically look like?
Grotesquely plump. The first draft is the first attempt to explore and record all possibilities that can happen within the project. Unnecessary scenes, lengthy conversations, useless plot mechanics: all that and a bit too much stage direction. The first draft is written and rarely shown. It is the second draft that I show to my peers.
What is your revision process?
Cut, cut, add. Cut, cut, add. Cut, cut, add. Then the subject becomes clearer. The ideas become more connected. Things don’t fall over each other. More trust is given to the director and the actors. The process is a consistent attack on the script and what the script can be. I’m usually only done once I am sick of it, and even then it most likely means that I will return to it in a few months or a year.
Where do you like to write? What tools do you use?
I cannot write anywhere where I am comfortable enough to sleep. I mostly write in quiet coffee shops or in loud bars. I switch between my laptop and a pencil and paper. I find pencil and paper to be the most effective way to write a first draft, as you don’t get distracted, and there’s something to feeling the words being drawn that gives them weight. The handwritten first drafts tend to be more concise.
Who is your favorite author and/or what is your favorite book, and why?
The only author I consistently adore is James Baldwin. Every word is poetic, every paragraph clean, and every book filled with a lifetime of emotions. I volunteered to take over the professor for a day to teach a class about Giovanni’s Room because I love the source material so much. My favorite plays are The Iceman Cometh and The Bald Soprano. The first is a perfect piece about escapism, and it was one of the first plays I read after I had decided to go into playwriting. The second is a satire on story structure, and one of the funniest experiences I have ever had. Everyone should at least read The Bald Soprano.
What was the first piece you ever wrote, and what made you decide to start it?
In the third grade I wrote a Scifi story about these weird slug monsters flying around in space ships shooting space marines in some overblown and plot heavy Star Wars-esque story all within 15 pages. It was a school assignment. In those days I had difficulty controlling my imagination, and often I was mentally absent from class. I really enjoyed filling up the pages on something I was excited about, even though I doubt it made sense to anyone who read it. I have yet to see it again… I hope that I have improved since then.
Where can we read more of your work?
You can see my work around the greater Philadelphia area as time moves forward. Currently, I present materials during EAR Fuzz nights at Plays & Players Theatre in Philadelphia, PA. You can meet me in person post show. The next EAR Fuzz is at January 20th, 2014, at 8pm, the following the same time at 8pm on March 17th.
Greg Nanni is graduated from the George Washington University in 2011 with a dual major in English and Political Science. He is one of the Playwright’s in Residence at Plays and Players Theatre in Philadelphia. He also co-leads “The 3 Hour” for the Philadelphia Dramatist Center, an open communal workshop devoted to developing the craft of Philadelphian playwrights. Please inquire the PDC if you are interested in joining.