Spotlight on Nicholas Wardigo

We at Theater Alliance are currently in rehearsals for the World Premiere of Nicholas Wardigno’s HumCarnegie Mellon graduate, recipient of the Roger Cornish Playwriting Award and a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship, Nicholas is thrilled to be making his first foray into the DC theatre scene.  Here’s a brief introduction to this exciting young playwright:

Q: Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Frackville, which is a small, former-coal-mining town in upstate Pennsylvania, about a hundred miles north of Philly.  It’s very near Pottsville, home of Yuengling Beer and John O’Hara, in that order.  I grew up thinking of Yuengling as the local cheap beer; it’s still slightly unsettling to watch people regard it so highly.

Q: Who is your favorite painter? Why?
Wow.  So many.  Off the cuff, I might say Van Gogh.  There are a few of his pieces at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, including one of his SUNFLOWERS, and I visited a traveling exhibition of many of his portraits a few years ago.  I find him interesting because, for him, painting was a three-dimensional art form.  His work is so textural, there’s almost no point in looking at photos or reproductions. 

Q: Who is your favorite writer? Why?
Unfair!  I suppose, if you put a gun to my head, I might say David Mamet.  I didn’t discover him until I was almost 30, still trying to figure out if I was a playwright or not.  I thought I had some game until I read GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS and realized I had no idea what I was doing.  He’s just one playwright of many, though.  If you asked me on a different day, I might’ve said August Wilson or Caryl Churchill or Neil Simon or Tennessee Williams or Tracy Letts or Martin McDonagh or Sarah Ruhl or a few dozen others.  And if we’re talking “writers” and not “playwrights,” I would wax philosophic for the next hour about Dostoyevsky.

Q: Something others are often surprised to find out about you?
I fish.  I don’t know why, exactly, but that seems to surprise everyone.  I caught my first two rainbow trout of the season last week, and I was very disappointed that it was raining, and I couldn’t fire up my grill.  I had to resort to a cast iron skillet, which is almost as good.

Q: What was your inspiration for writing hum?
There were a lot of little inspirations, including a constant, nagging idea in the back of my mind that theater can be used for so much more than a living room drama.  One particularly strong moment happened when I took a train into Philly one morning.  The train cleared a bend in the tracks, and I saw a wrecking ball demolish a wall of a building.  It couldn’t have been timed better.  As the crane came into view, the ball swung, and the wall came down in a huge cloud of bricks and dust, just like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon or something.  And I turned to the inside of the train, to share the moment with someone, and everyone had their nose in their laptop or smartphone or iPad.  There had to be twenty people in that car, and I was literally the only one who saw this amazingly cool thing outside.  It depressed me  a little, and sometime later, I realized there was some element there that I could mine.

Q: What are you working on now?
It’s a play called SNOWGLOBE.  It’s about two women whose entire universe is the inside of a snowglobe, and they start asking all the classic philosophical questions.  Theology.  Cosmology.  Existentialism.  The questions don’t get any smaller, but they become more manageable when the cosmos is thirty feet in diameter.  If you want to prove your argument, the search for evidence only takes a few minutes.  If you want another viewpoint, there’s only one other person to ask.