Playwright Adam Bock
Adam Bock’s The Canadians had its first reading at South Coast Repertory as part of the 2018-19 NewSCRipts play-reading series and later a reading at the 2019 Pacific Playwrights Festival. Now, The Canadians will have its world premiere at SCR on the Julianne Argyros Stage (Sept. 29-Oct. 20). We caught up with Bock to ask him a few questions about his early (really early) playwriting efforts, the play that changed his life and what we should know about The Canadians.
When did you know that you wanted to be a playwright?
I knew pretty early on. I started writing plays in the third grade—for me and my friends to do in class—and took my first playwriting class in high school (my teacher made me listen to a recording of Marat/Sade, she was awesome and I was hooked on experimental theatre). I didn’t know playwriting could be my career until I went to the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center for a semester after college. After that, I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to do.
What play changed your life?
Far Away by Caryl Churchill. I saw it at New York Theatre Workshop. It was 45-minutes long and explained war, how it creeps up on us, how it dehumanizes us, how it turns the whole world against itself and how terrifying that is. There is an amazing speech at the end of the play, when a returning soldier describes not knowing whose side silence and darkness are on—and whether the river is an enemy—and suddenly I understood how, during war, walk outside and who knows what will attack you. We are so lucky we have lived without mass armed conflict on our land for a while, a fortune that I think we take for granted. Churchill did all this in 45 minutes and it was a deeply theatrical, entertaining and horrifying play. Made me know that the length of a play is not its virtue, that deep is as strong as wide and that our job as playwrights is to delight and terrify people with the reality of the world, to wake up and to awaken others. A very high bar she raises and an inspiration always.
What should we know about The Canadians
I am a Canadian who has lived in the U.S. for most of my adult life. I love the experience of exploring a new world, but also of knowing another one. It’s a bit like being gay—learning to be comfortable in many different environments, hopefully learning from them all. I think the sadness of all the difficulties we have with difference, misogyny, racism, homophobia and on and on, is that we lose the chance to learn from each other, to explore each other’s worlds, so fascinating and vast.
Learn more about The Canadians and buy tickets.