At the PWC this week: Joe Waechter

Core Writer Joe Waechter is at the Playwrights’ Center this week, workshopping The Hidden People with director Kip Fagan and actors Luverne Seifert, Elise Langer, Sun Mee Chomet, Jim Lichtscheidl, Tracey Maloney, Mo Perry, Shanan Custer, and Sean Dillon. We asked Joe a few questions:

What are you looking forward to this year, artistically?

The Hidden People is a play I’ve been writing and developing slowly the last seven years, and it’s nearly complete. It’s a big three part, hilarious, strange, and very moving play steeped in Icelandic folklore and Norse mythology. It’s been incredible to work on a project slowly and allow ideas to deepen and morph over an extended period of time. But I’m excited to finish it, and even more excited to share it with people.

What inspires you?

Being out in the world inspires me. Last year I was on an artist residency aboard a triple-mast sailboat in the high arctic. On the trip, I hiked up two mountains, one snow-covered and the other a desert of granite rubble. I saw so many animals – polar bears, baby polar bears, seals, arctic fox, walrus, hundreds of beluga whales, and a lot of birds. I swam in the Arctic Ocean, sat in front of countless numbers of glaciers, and was nearly moved to tears when one calved in front of me. I organized a film festival in an abandoned mining town and performed one of my plays on the sailboat’s deck during the midnight sun. It’s the most inspiring few weeks of my life. From those experiences, I'm dramatizing a mythology for the arctic circle. I can’t wait to see how it manifests.

What playwriting/theater advice to you have for others?

Resist comparison; focus on your relationship to the process of writing; put your heart into your work; and write your face off. Don’t be precious about it—some of the writing will be brilliant and some will be crap—but keep making more work. It’s important to be thoughtful and patient, but the real learning happens in writing and making.