Fertile Ground Portland

A Festival of New Works Blog

Playwright Interview #6 – Nick Zagone January 4, 2011

Filed under: Shows,the creative process,the writing process — fluffyredtheresa @ 2:25 am


NAME: Nick Zagone

PROJECT: The Missing Pieces

A workshop production with Portland Playhouse, January 20 – 30, 2011.


Nick Zagone grew up in Portland, OR. His plays include David and Goliath in America: A William Kunstler Story (Mark A. Klein Playwriting Award, Artistic Director’s Achievement Award by the San Fernando Valley Theatre League Alliance, Los Angeles Ovation Award Nomination), Driving Under the Influence (Fulton Opera House Award, JAW Festival Reading Selection, Mark Cohen Playwriting Award Nomination), Howard’s Hand (New York MultiStages Festival) Ohio (Northwest Playwright’s Series Finalist), ETA: Phoenix (a Seattle Times Footlight Award), Our LA Man from Vegas (Prospect Theatre Playwriting Competition Winner), American Dodo (Northwest Playwright’s Series Finalist) and Brainstorm (winner of the Lamia Ink! International One-Page Play Competition in New York). His short plays The DMV One, The Pink Fancy, Amorica, The Mint Juleps and The Coors Lights have been seen in England, Scotland, Canada, Australia, Germany, Chile, India, the Virgin Islands, Singapore, over 40 US States, over 50 Colleges and Universities and translated into 5 foreign languages. Nick is proudly a Founding Member of Open Circle Theatre in Seattle WA. Nick’s work has been developed and produced at East 3rd Productions(NYC), Portland Center Stage, Printer’s Devil, Sierra Repertory Theatre, Prospect Theatre, No-Shame Theatre LA, Iron Ring Theatre, and Pavement Productions. He has a Bachelor of Theatre from Willamette University and a Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting from University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Nick’s screenwriting credits include a short film of Brainstorm and the feature Ricky is Famous. Nick’s been recognized by the American College Theatre Festival, Association of Theatre in Higher Education, and the Seattle Schools Interagency Arts. He has worked with Cal-State Stanislaus in Turlock, Stage 3, Pasadena City College, Mark Taper Forum, Seattle Repertory Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, Whitman College and Willamette University.  Nick is also published by Dramatic Publishing and Black Box Press. Nick now lives in Portland, was a member of Portland Center Stage’s PlayGroup and is now a member of Playwrights West.


1. A Writer I Admire Is . . .

David Mamet. I hate him in many ways (let me count), but I have to admire him. He keeps kicking out something smart and interesting and even if it’s a big steaming pile of crap he still has the best actors beating their breasts to be in it. And often he garners their best performances.

2. My Writing Style Can Be Described As . . .

Zagonian.  A director friend of mine called it that once.  What is that?  I don’t know.

3. The Portland Theatre Company I’d Most Love To See This Show Produced By Is . . .

Portland Playhouse in Cooperation with Portland Center Stage at the Armory. It’s not unheard of. In Seattle it happened all the time; professional theatres pulling from the fringe.

4. The Celebrity I Would Most Like To See Star In This Play On Broadway Is . . .

Oh my God, if it’s on Broadway I guess I really wouldn’t give a shit! You get to that point and wow, “Frances the talking Mule? Well I never thought of that but ok… I guess, I’d have to hear her read.” I have to say this though, and Deirdre Atkinson knows this so I won’t be upsetting her, but I always had Storm Large in mind for Lillian. And I usually don’t do that: Have actors in my head… but she was just there during the writing of this.

5. A Portland Theatre Artist I Admire Is . . .

Mead Hunter. And he is an artist. Steve Patterson. He’s done it all man, from way back, his whole freakin’ life has been devoted to Portland Theatre. Hunt Holman. We’ve been friends since high school. Writing Monty Python rip-off sketches and pushing them on our drama teacher Tom Graff. Who I admire as well; Multi-talented and has been involved in Portland theatre in one way or another his whole life. Deirdre Atkinson is a workhorse man, also a friend since college. And! My wife Kat, who is my best editor.

6. I Am Terrified Of . . .

Ghosts manifested as little girls in blue dresses reaching out to you with dead hands at the top of a stairway with blood pouring out of the side of their head where they’ve been shot at close range. “Niiiiick… Niiiiick help me cross over….”

7. I Am Obsessed With . . .

Blazers. Can’t help it. There’s a theory you always will love the team you loved when you were 9. I’m giving away my age, but when I was 9 the Blazers won the championship. It’s really my only vice. I don’t have the time for anything more.

8. The Book Currently On My Nightstand Is . . .

“Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and the Marriage of the Century.” Read it. A blast! It’s the last time in the history of the world a Shakespearian actor had more fame, money and jewels than any royalty on earth. They WERE Royalty.

9. Three Adjectives That Describe This Play Are . . .

Man I suck at this. Um… Off-Beat, Hilarious, Unconventional…….****!, Thumbs-up!, Wow! A triumph!

10. In the Indie Art-House Biographical Film Of My Life, I Should Be Played By . . .

Stanley Tucci. Or Brad Pitt. Ok, ok, seriously? Cate Blanchett.


1. Tell us about your Fertile Ground Festival play.

It’s Portland. 1980. Mt. St. Helen’s has just erupted. Do you know where your stack of Playboys are? 12-year-old Timmy comes from a broken home in the West Hills and he’s decided he wants a new Dad: Hugh M. Hefner. Timmy recruits his burnt out brother and an alcoholic ex-Playboy Playmate to get to meet the Playboy icon. But Timmy’s Irish Catholic mother might have something to say about it.

2. How did this story come about?  What inspired it?

A gentleman never tells. Let’s just say it’s my “coming of age” play.

3. What # draft is this?

7 and 1/2.

4. Who’s your favorite character (you don’t have to tell us why, but you can).

12-year-old Timmy. You’ll see why.

5. Talk about your writing process.  (How do you write?  When do you write?  What gets you writing?)

I write on a MacBook about anywhere from 5-8am to noon-1pm about 5-6 days a week when I’m really into something.  I decided to do it this way when I read that Steinbeck did the same. (I wrote a one-man show about him for a grant.) He said mornings you’re just more fresh (still a little in a the dream state) and writing is easier. What really gets me writing is just sitting down and writing. I know that sounds stupid, but just sitting down to do it is the toughest part of writing; there’s ALWAYS a reason Not to.  But I’ll look up and it’s been 5 hours.  Where did it go? Ann Bogart believes there’s something divine in that, that there’s a connection to God. I don’t know about that….But it is often a time when I am most happy.

6. What is the most exciting/inspiring piece of theatre you’ve seen in Portland?

Easy. When I was a kid, my brother was Artistic Director at Storefront Theatre in the 70’s and 80’s and much of what I saw was inspiring/exciting to the point where I said to myself, “I just don’t want to do that, I want to know where it came from… who the hell wrote that?” Some of what I saw… Sam Shepherd’s True West, Romulus Linney’s Holy Ghosts, August Wilson’s Ma Rainy’s Black Bottom come to mind and, of course, Angry Housewives. The sisters had no idea why a young boy in Catholic School would be singing “Eat Your Fucking Corn Flakes.”

7. What are you up to these days when you’re not writing?

Playing with my son Ike. 6-year-olds need a lot of help with their Legos.

The Missing Pieces plays at The Church (602 NE Prescott) January 20 – 30, 2011.  Thurs – Sat, 8pm; Sunday, 2pm.

As always, the beer…is free.  Buy tickets here.


One Response to “Playwright Interview #6 – Nick Zagone”

  1. […] happens with me a lot: there’s a piece that i happen to leave out in writing a draft, (or as Nick Zagone might say, one of The Missing Pieces*), and when i put it back as it should be, a lot of other […]

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