|Famous playwright visits Algonquin|
|Written by Dan Neutel|
|Thursday, 10 March 2011|
There are about 300 million people living in the United States and only about 30 of them are making a living as a full-time playwright. Israel Horovitz, 71, is one of them and on Feb. 14 the most-performed American playwright in France visited Algonquin talk about his craft.
Horovitz has been writing plays since his late teens and his lifeís story has been almost as incredible as any of his scripts. He has studied with Laurence Olivier and was close friends with Samuel Beckett. He has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood including Al Pacino, James Franco, Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore.
He has written over 70 plays which have been performed everywhere from Broadway to Central Africa and won several prestigious awards. And he is father to five remarkably successful children most, notably Adam Horovitz, better known as "Ad Rock", of the Beastie Boys.
With humor, humbleness and honesty Horovitz offered his decades of experience to the Algonquinís scriptwriting students in an inspiring talk about a remarkable life in which he credits all he has to the stage.
Born in 1939 to a blue collar family in Wakefield Massachusetts, his father was a truck driver and Horovitz had no background in theater.
"My parents didnít encourage writing at all," he said. They "had absolutely no connection to writing or theater what so ever and there was no such thing in my town."
Despite this, Horovitz managed to write his first novel at age 13. When it wasnít published he turned to theater. His first play was performed when he was 17 and from that moment on he knew how he would spend his life.
"Nobody said to me that it was a good play. Absolutely nobody. But everybody said it was a play, and I thought okay, itís a play. Iím a playwright. I know who I am."
His love and drive to write has only grown stronger in time,
"Iím 71 years old and I think Iím probably even more excited about it now than I was then. It hasnít tapered off at all. I write all the time."
Horovitz offered three key pieces of advice to the young Algonquin playwrights.
"Write a lot. Write your second play before your first is put on. Donít get so hung up on your first play that youíre waiting for it to be the great success," he said.
Secondly, Horovitz told the students not to try to do it all on their own,
"gather friends around," he said. "Otherwise youíre just by yourself when youíre writing and what the hell happens next? And the answer is nothing happens next unless you make it happen."
Finally he told the student to dig deep.
"You work from the heart and the most important thing a play can do is to touch people. I think at the end of the day we have one question in life and thatís why are we alive? What is it that you see about life that youíve figured out that you think people should know? Thatís what art is all about."
When dealing with the insecurities of living the public life of an artist Horovitz told those in attendance, "I donít think that Iím a person with a lot of confidence, but I think as you grow older as an artist you overcome a tremendous lack of confidence. That is part of what drives you to be an artist. A feeling of not fitting in, of really being on the outside of things."
For scriptwriting program coordinator Lynn Tarzwell, having Horovitz drop in was an enormous coup.
"All of the theater students know who Israel is and realize just what an enormous opportunity this is," Tarzwell said.
Tarzwell credits Horovitzís visit to Paul Dervis, a former Algonquin professor, Boston native and long-time friend of Horovitz. For the students, having Horovitz help them with their own works was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
"He definitely knew what he was talking about and he had a lot of wisdom to give," said Kevin Lever, whose play was personally critiqued by Horovitz.
Vincent Menart also had his work performed for Horovitz.
"Israel was very supportive of our first work," said Menart. "He understood what we were going through."
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 10 March 2011 )|
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