From Broadway to the Back Lot

Pippin Parker, director of The New School for Drama; David Lindsay-Abaire; Donald Margulies; John Guare.

For anyone with an appetite for a good backstage story, playwrights John Guare, David Lindsay-Abaire, and Donald Margulies, led by moderator Pippin Parker, director of The New School for Drama, provided a feast at Bank Street on October 19. The event, a conversation with the playwrights about adapting their plays for film, was hosted by The New School for Drama and the Writer’s Guild of America, East.

“It all comes down to telling the story,, said John Guare. And as they’ve proven with their plays, these writers know how to captivate an audience. They opened up about their stage-to-movie experiences, from the highs, getting the call, from Nicole Kidman about filming Rabbit Hole (David Lindsay-Abraire), to the lows, having a key scene transferred to a men’s room without your consent (Donald Margulies, Dinner with Friends), to the unexpected, discovering that the young TV star you’re forced to hire is a delight (John Guare on the casting of Will Smith in Six Degrees of Separation).

Even for these experienced, award-winning writers, the ways of Hollywood can baffle. I wrote a story about a Jewish painter,, said Donald Margulies. And I was told, ‘We love this, but does he have to be Jewish and does he have to be a painter?’,

The conversation uncovered connections between the writers, most poignantly when David Lindsay-Abaire revealed that seeing the PBS production of The House of Blue Leaves by John Guare in high school convinced him to become a playwright.

These three writers have each contributed significantly to the artistic ambitions and identity of the contemporary American theater,, Pippin Parker said. It was an immense pleasure to have them here at Bank Street.,

If you’re curious to know why a Canadian dentist owns the rights to John Guare’s Atlantic City, why David Lindsay-Abraire’s favorite moment in the Broadway production of Rabbit Hole was not something he wrote, or how WOR’s Million Dollar Movie, series influenced Brooklyn-native Donald Margulies, view the event on the Writer’s Guild of America, East website.