21 Jul F30 Countdown – Deb Hiett
We only have sixteen days until the OOB Festival begins. With no time to waste, let’s get to know finalist Deb Hiett and her short play The Presentation!
Raised in the Deep South, Deb Hiett moved to Los Angeles after years of living in New York City, where she performed as an actress, writer, dancer, and musician. L.A.’s Rogue Machine Theatre recently produced the World Premiere of Deb’s play The Super Variety Match Bonus Round! which The Los Angeles Times called “ingenious.”
When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?
As a child, I remember watching my grandfather captivate a room of people with his storytelling, and thinking how much I wanted access to that magic. So as long as I can remember, I’ve been writing and acting, both. I took a break specifically from theater when I moved to Los Angeles, but about three years ago I found myself with an idea for what could only be a play, and so I started creating work for the stage. I was invited to join The Playwrights Union, and have been happily turning out plays ever since.
How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
I love those moments when you find a big fat turning point slammed into your life. (I say “your” life because I don’t love it nearly as much when it happens to me.) When I was living in NYC and working a day job at a high-rise office building, I had a big opportunity to impress my boss’s bosses (which everyone at the office knew about) on the same day I had received an infertility treatment (which no one at the office knew anything about). I remember flashing on how lovely it would be to just relax my white-knuckled grip on the reality I’d created.
What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
Relentless, impatient, musical, funny, superstitious.
What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
I love studying body language in old photographs, and reading church bulletins and small-town newspapers. I draw inspiration from Tom Waits, Elaine May, Betty Comden, J. J. Abrams, Dolly Parton, the Duffer Brothers, Anna Deavere Smith, and Matthew Weiner, among many others.
What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I tend to anthropomorphize inanimate objects, like my pillow (who probably misses those awesome hotel pillows it met when I took mine with me on vacation that one time), my sunglasses (I ache thinking they felt abandoned until I ran back to the bank where I’d left them), or that aging stuffed teddy bear hanging from the electrical wires over the intersection near me (there should really be a suicide hotline for tired toys I mean come on).
What are some of your favorite plays?
The first few that come to mind, in no order: To Us! by Carrie Barrett, Noises Off by Michael Frayn, Doubt by John Patrick Shanley, Prelude to a Kiss by Craig Lucas
Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
My play Miss Keller Has No Second Book will have its premiere next spring at Gulfshore Playhouse (other NNPN theaters: check it out!). I’m just completing a new play where two very different couples have to work together to complete one of those Escape Room thingeys, while their city riots and burns just outside the door. (I think it’s a comedy but I’ll keep you posted.) Plus, as an actress, look for me in the upcoming Curb Your Enthusiasm”season (HBO) and Brie Larson’s indie film Unicorn Store.
Her play The Presentation will be performed on August 10th at 6:30pm. We’ll meet a woman who gives an unexpected presentation in Conference Room A.