"You Must Be In Your Saturn Return"

Tue, 04/26/2011

An excerpt taken from an interview with Noah Haidle conducted by the Orange County Register.

OCR: What was your inspiration for this play?
Noah Haidle: It happened actually during a conversation like this about a different play. The person on the other end of the line was the newspaper's horoscope writer. And she told me at one point, "You must be in your Saturn return." I said, "Excuse me?" She explained that when Saturn comes back every 30 years it interrupts the life cycle of the person. I wouldn't put it on the Joycean level of epiphany, but it did stick with me.

OCR: Is it autobiographical?
Haidle: Well, that brings up an interesting question about autobiography and writing. I don't think you need to live through something to write about it. I think my writing is more of an emotional biography rather than a literal one. I don't know how much of me is in there. I don't find my life particularly interesting. Most days I spend a lot of time staring at a wall. I'm of the school that it really doesn't matter what an artist has gone through. I don't discount Ezra Pound's poetry because he was anti-Semitic. There's something in the imagination that when somebody says "this is based on a true story," people prick up their ears a little more. Why does it matter? I'm more interested in what I would call a poetic transposition of reality.

OCR: Do you let your characters lead the way?
Haidle: A little bit. But I don't believe playwrights when they say, "They were in the room with me and they were telling me what to do." That sounds to me like schizophrenia. I think the best quote about it that resonates with me is Saul Bellow: "I write to find the next room of my fate." My theory is if I'm surprised then an audience will be surprised as well. When writing is going well I think of it as kind of a math proof.

OCR: Do you learn a lot from observing actors perform your work?
Haidle: Absolutely, every time. I mean, theater is at its essence a collaborative medium. The more people you can activate in your imagination the better your final product will be. The playwright has a rarefied position. lt's illegal to change one word of the script without their express consent. I like to think of myself as a little more flexible. I say, "If you come up with a better line than mine then I'll use it." I ask my actors, "Do you have a problem with this? Does anything sound clunky or untrue to who you feel you are?" Plays are delicately symphonic.