|Image Source: Playwrights Horizon Magazine|
Originally, Hnath intended to study medicine, but after a short stint as a pre-med student, he transferred into the dramatic writing program at NYU. Since then he has written seven plays, including THE CHRISTIANS, winning a number of awards.
Here are some excerpts from his interview with Playwrights Horizon Magazine (read the whole thing here.)
On his studies:
"The funny thing is my first year I was getting ready for a pre-med track. I had not gone to NYU for Tisch. I’d gone there because I wanted to be in New York, but I was interested in science. My better scores were always in science. I thought writing was a bit tedious. I didn’t think I was very good with words. But then when I was in New York I discovered Caryl Churchill here, I discovered Richard Foreman, and I tipped over and transferred into Dramatic Writing."
About experimentation on stage:
"I mean, an experiment is something you can do live onstage. And I’ve often thought that plays are constructed out of live experiments and negotiations and trials. Like, those to me feel like very dramatic situations. So, I think it may be part of the reason my plays either have a little bit of a feeling of a court trial, or something happening in an operating theater. And The Christians very much is built as a public debate."
On microphones in THE CHRISTIANS:
"But the mics also give us another layer of dramatic action. I’d jokingly say that the play is nothing more than a set of four or five theological arguments. Of course it’s quite a bit more than that, but it is, at its core, built on a couple of debates. And these arguments are quite dense. It’s a play in which, often, the most dramatic action is for someone to decide to say something. “Saying” or “deciding to say” can often be overlooked as significant. The prop of the microphone actually gives us a means to make visible the action of speaking or decision or refusing to say something. We can all see the moment where a character leans into a microphone to speak. And we can all see the hesitation to do so. And we can tell the difference between leaning in to a microphone to speak versus yanking the microphone from its stand to speak. There’s a difference in intention and intensity."
On the most common trap when people write about religion:
"It’s jumping to the assumption that for the person who has particularly fundamentalist beliefs, let’s say, that they are stupid or that they are acting first and foremost out of hatred. And not really considering the factor that from a fundamentalist point of view, in many cases there are very severe stakes attached to being wrong. That 'if I am doing something that is actually against the word of God, then I’m going to be punished.' And I think people forget about that. There are enormous stakes attached: eternal damnation."