Backstage at Detroit With Lisa D’Amour: “Even Playwrights Get Stage Fright”

09/19/2012 1:07 PM |

D’Amour’s time backstage is little. Unlike productions for PearlDamour, she primarily sits in the audience during rehearsals, offering thoughts and ideas, but leaving more of the practical decisions to the director and crew. Once rehearsals are over, there’s a break. “I either run for a drink to calm myself down or get some food,” she said. “And often Anne and I will discuss what we’ll be looking for in the show that night.”

During the shows, she and Kauffman tuck themselves into seats in the back row or up in the mezzanine. Even though this is D’Amour’s third production of Detroit, she told me, “That moment before the show starts is as terrifying every single night. Terrifying and totally exciting.” Even playwrights get stage fright. I asked her how those nerves manifest for her. “I feel like I’m going to have to run out of the theater. It’s very hard for me to stay in my chair.”

After the show ends, there’s a short break before the beginning of a technical meeting with the crew and the director. D’Amour said that whenever she’s there for a show she stays for the meeting, to help out in whatever way she can, though she’s not required to be there. Then she and Kauffman usually head across the street to the West Bank Café for a drink to figure out what to focus on the next day. By the time they’re done chatting it could be 11:30 or midnight, or later. From there, it’s back to Brooklyn.

“The hardest part of a playwright’s day,” D’Amour said, “is winding down enough to go to sleep. You check your email, you watch 30 Rock or Friday Night Lights—I’m on season five—just to get out of your own head. Then you lie in bed with your head racing. And then you get up and do your back exercises.”