The Muse - Interview 2011
OOB Festival: Where do you come from (home state, state of mind, or both)?
Cassie: I am a Cuban American Jew, or “Jewbana” as I like to call myself, from North Woodmere, Long Island. It’s a little town that has only recently made it onto the maps. They knocked down our post office and built an old age home, and we don’t have our own zip code, but it’s home. I currently live in Somerville, MA, and since I found my voice as a playwright while living in Boston, I feel as though I’m a Boston Playwright.
OOB Festival: Give us five words that describe who you are as a playwright.
Cassie: Five words that describe me as a playwright… Bold, Meta, Provocative, Unique, and Persistent.
OOB Festival: Talk about your entry to this year’s Festival. How did you come to write this play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation?
Cassie: In my free time I tend to do a lot of portrait artistry and I was looking through some of my work and noticing that a handful of pieces in my portfolio were titled “The Muse,” and yet they were all of different people, and I though how interesting the ever changing muse is, but that was just a I thought. It wasn’t until later that week, after a long day of assistant stage managing, I got on the bus to head home, my head resting on the window, I closed my eyes as if to doze off, and I just got this great visual of a teenage boy scrambling out of an apartment, disheveled, and with a wad of cash. I then though about how much it would suck if that same boy had to go back into wherever he just came from because he forgot his socks. From there my imagination took off, and I nearly missed my stop. When I got the courage to enter “The Muse” into this festival, I called the director, Kenny Steven Fuentes, and said something like, “Dude, wouldn’t it be awesome if we took The Muse to New York?” And awesome it is.
Cassie: I’d tell the audience it is okay to laugh, then I’d lean forward and say please laugh! I guess I’d like the audience to get a little nostalgic, but I’d also love some jaw drops, and surprise gasps.
OOB Festival: What/who are some of the major influences on your writing? What’s the most unconventional place/thing that you’ve taken inspiration from?
Cassie: I am a big fan of Samuel Beckett, Neil LaBute, Adam Rapp, Paul Auster, and J.M. Barrie (he wrote Peter Pan); I would say those are some of my biggest literary influences. I’m a big fan of awkward silences and situations, especially if you throw in some overlapping lines and courageous language. But when it all boils down to it, my late grandfather Ysrael A. Seinuk, a paramount in the engineering world, is the man I credit my drive and devotion. He always instilled in me the matra, “from strength to strength,” and I dedicate all of my writing to him. Maybe great engineers and skyscrapers don’t usually inspire playwrights, but every time I return to New York and see the skyline of his buildings I feel like my potential is limitless.
OOB Festival: What is your “dream play”–that is, if the more restrictive elements of production (budget, space, casting, and technical elements) were not a consideration, what type of theatre piece would you create?
Cassie:. When I think of “dream play” I immediately think of this project we had to do in college called “dream project,” you know – write down our dreams and make a weird little theatre piece with absolutely no budget and no real technological help in an obscure space like stairwell or lobby of the Spingold Theatre at Brandeis. So… that was fun. I love to think about the cool sets and the great effects I could have if I bled money, but when it all comes down to it, theatre, or what makes theatre dreamy to me, is the raw emotion that can drive penniless theatre students to make insanely unique pieces of art, that you walk away from and feel like something inside has just changed. Sure I wont turn down a budget, but to make people feel truly affected… that I’d like most.
OOB Festival: If someone saw you on the street, what’s one fact that they would never guess about you?
Cassie: That I am not a pre-teen. People always tell me that one day I’ll be glad I look young, that I’ll come to treasure my baby face. But right now I just hate when moms come over to me at the mall and ask me if the baby pink Juicy velour tracksuit they’re buying for their 14 year old is what the “kids our age” are wearing these days. I am ten years older than that. I know I’m young, but I’m not that young. You can’t imagine how weird it got when I worked at Kids and Baby Gap… very weird.
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