PLAYWRIGHT TIM MOFORD TALKS ABOUT
"LIBBY PEARCE DRINKS"
Q.: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS PLAY?
A.: I never set out to write a play about alcohol and teenagers. Actually, I've always found such an idea daunting, since it is so easy to fall into work which is preachy and therefore unconnected to the real lives of young people. The play was inspired rather by discussions with my high school students about responsibility in its broadest form, and the possible beneficial effects of guilt. It was very interesting to me that many of them clearly felt that forgiving themselves, by rationalizing their actions, was much more important than reflecting on what they had done to cause the problem. I have always mistrusted my desire to attach such faults to an entire "self-esteemed" generation and like many teachers, I'm sure, I often wonder whether the intellectual positions adopted by my students are genuine, or based on their perception of what kids "should think." Theatre seemed a good way of exploring this question, as the medium has a way of forcing characters to expose hidden qualities in vivid and provocative ways. As that great student-of-guilt Arthur Miller puts it in "The Crucible," theatre shows what happens when "hell and heaven grapple on our backs, and all our old pretence is stripped away." Without any claim on my part that I have achieved, or even aimed at, such power and influence, I think that's what made me write this play.
Q.: WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PART OR LINE? WHY?
A.: Based on my response above, I suppose one of my favorite lines is Lindsay's, when she says "I'm saying . I'm saying I'm responsible. And so are you." There is a finality, clarity and awful simplicity in such a statement which made it feel awkward to write, but so powerful to hear.
Q.: WHERE DID THE CHARACTERS COME FROM? ARE THEY BASED ON PEOPLE YOU KNOW?
A.: The characters are not based on any individual, though they are certainly influenced by students I have taught and/or worked alongside. Teachers are exposed to a wide variety of vigorous, bizarre and compelling conversations every work day, simply by walking through that most public of private arenas, the high school hallway. Since I've been working consciously on developing my writing, I think I'm absorbing more of this intriguing soundtrack and it is emerging, transformed, in the pieces I write.
Q.: WHAT DID YOU TRY TO ACHIEVE WITH THE PLAY?
A.: I wanted to write a play which explored a situation in flux, so that the audience could watch characters struggle to adapt to new and pressing information in real time, under the pressures of external authority, internal strife and confined location. As soon as it became clear that the play was going to be about alcohol, an additional objective was to explore the issue of teenage drinking through the "back door," so to speak. I wanted the main issue always to be "What have I done?" rather than "Why did I use alcohol?" I hope that this play will show audiences the dangers of alcohol abuse as one, frightening, part of the responsibilities we all have towards ourselves and others.