Luke Sorge is part of the BETC Ensemble and the BETC Writers’ Group. His new play Taco Town will be read at 7 p.m. on Monday 7/15, the last night of BETC’s Summer Reading Series.
Tell us a little about yourself. What’s your backstory as a theatre person and playwright?
I’ve written scripts, though mostly screenplays, for much of my life. But the first real, full-length play I ever wrote was as the final paper in a lit class my senior year of college called American Drama (great class, made me love reading plays as literature). The instructor was none other than my fellow BETC Writers’ Group member Cate Wiley. Her feedback was something along the lines of, “The play doesn’t really work… but hey, you wrote a play. And that’s something.” Honestly, it’s one of the best notes I’ve ever received. Because I was proud of finishing the thing, of tackling the challenge of writing a play, and she didn’t let me lose sight of that accomplishment, despite it being terrible. And it was, indeed, terrible. I pursued film over theatre for a few years after that, but when I met my incredibly talented wife, Adrian Egolf, she encouraged me to audition for plays. I’ve been acting on stage here and there ever since and it reignited my love of theatre.
In working on Taco Town, what was your inspiration?
Josh Hartwell, in his interview last week, mentioned the cliche writing advice to “write what you know.” Well, I know Taco Bell. I’ve eaten more Taco Bell in my life than I feel comfortable admitting here – now that I’m sort of writing about it, I justify my visits as “research.” I’m also inspired by the odd relationships you make at work. I had a number of different food delivery jobs in my early 20s, and even though I haven’t talked to the people I worked with since quitting, I think about them surprisingly often. It sounds silly to describe a few years working at Jimmy John’s or Pizza Hut as formative, but in a lot of ways they were.
Tell us about a contemporary play you like. Whose work do you think more people should know about?
I think more people should know about the work of Heather Beasley, Jenny Stafford, Cate Wiley, Matt Schneck, Jihad Milhem, and Josh Hartwell. So there’s that. But…
Shamelessness alert: There’s a lot of BETC in this answer. I read and fell in love with plays like The Revolutionists (Lauren Gunderson), Stupid F##king Bird (Aaron Posner), and Ideation (Aaron Loeb) because of BETC. And the Generations program introduced me to wonderful plays like The Madres (Stephanie Alison Walker) and Birds of North America (Anna Moench) and allowed me to meet and learn from David Valdes Greenwood and Simon Fill. Also, because of BETC’s beautiful Ambition Facing West a few years ago, I started reading a lot of Anthony Clairvoe and have yet to be disappointed.
Why write for the theatre today?
For the money, mostly. Piles and piles of cash. But aside from the fabulous fortune awaiting playwrights, I just enjoy it. Is that too simplistic? Writing plays is fun. I also tend to mimic and try my hand at the things I love. When I was little, I wrote and drew my own Far Side comics. Because I love reading plays, watching plays, and performing in plays, it’s only natural that I would want to write them, as well.
As a writer, what’s your spirit animal?
A squirrel. I often find little nuggets of inspiration and bury them in all sorts of places – and just as often forget where. I can be skittish around people, but I’ve acclimated well enough. I prefer to keep an overhead view of things, surveying the landscape, but sometimes you just have to hop down to ground level and run around. Dogs find me stressful? I dunno. Oh, I also seem to have a strange fixation with the suburbs.