Theresa Rebeck’s work has appeared on the Broadway and Off-Broadway stage, in film, and on television. Her most recent production, Bernhardt/Hamlet, opened on Broadway in September 2018 starring Tony Award-winner Janet McTeer. This play, along with six of her other works spanning from 2011-2019, will be featured in her new book, Theresa Rebeck: Complete Plays Volume 5, available now from Smith & Kraus.
Theresa answered five questions for Broadway Direct, where she tells us about her new upcoming works, hobbies she’s been focusing on, and how she wanted to become a writer in her childhood.
1. What inspired you to become a writer?
I wanted to be a writer when I was six years old. It’s hard to explain where ideas come from at that age. I do remember that when I was even younger, I was watching my older sister read books and I thought, “I can do that.” And then I was just taken with the magic of meaning. So I always thought I would be a writer, and then in grade school, I became infatuated with the theater. Three times a year they would put us all on a bus and take us down to Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, for the student matinee. When I was 12 years old I suddenly got very sick and I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want to miss the matinee of something – I think it was A View from the Bridge. Anyway, it turned out I had appendicitis and I almost died, because I was so determined to make that matinee. Was it worth it? I don’t know, but I certainly think those student matinees were a great influence on my life. I grew up seeing Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams and Shakespeare and Moliere, all of whom were gods to me.
2. Who in your field inspires you?
The people who inspire me most in our field are our mighty actors. It has been the privilege of my life to work with these men and women: Alan Rickman, Janet McTeer, Raúl Esparza, Tony Shalhoub, Marin Ireland, Dylan Baker, Alfre Woodard, Julie White, Kristine Nielsen, Ito Aghayere, Matt Saldivar, Hamish Linklater, Lily Rabe, Charlayne Woodard, John Glover, Hettienne Park, John Procaccino, Tim and Tyne Daly, Reg Rogers, the great Christopher Evan Welch, the list goes on and on. It’s impossible to overstate the astonishing gift that all actors have been to my life.
3. What will audiences be most excited about seeing in your new upcoming works?
Many things I hope! I will say I have been directing more and I hope that I get to keep working with the amazing designers who have stood with me, including Alexander Dodge, Philip Rosenberg, Linda Cho, Tilly Grimes, and Fitz Patton. When we start to move back into the theater, one of my first projects will be my play Enlightenment, which is about witchcraft and the Declaration of Independence. That is going to happen at the Arena Stage in Washington D.C.
4. What are some things you’ve always wanted to do that you’re able to spend time on now?
I had some Spanish from high school and college and I’ve always wanted to go back and just be better at it, which I had started trying just before the pandemic hit. And here is something everyone needs to know: In Spanish, there are 18 verb tenses, and the direct object and indirect object go in all sorts of different places. This might have driven me crazy in other circumstances but because I was under quarantine it was something I simply had to accept. I think it’s very good for my brain to be moving around this new, and to me, mysterious land. It has been a great gift to my life.
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