Category: book

Calling a Line Crooked: An Interview with playwright Leslye Headland - Part Two

Posted December 18, 2012 - 11:47am

Leslye Headland, author of Assistance, spoke with Wilma Theater Literary/Artistic Assistant William Steinberger on Tuesday morning, October 23rd in a cab on her way to a rehearsal. This is the second installment of her interview.

Will Steinberger: Something that really excited the Wilma about the play is that it focuses on the workplace [as does the next play in the Wilma season, Richard Bean’s Under the Whaleback],  and does so almost as an anthropological study.

Headland: Studs Terkel’s Working was another big jumping off point for me.  In the introduction, he writes that his book, ‘being about work, is, by its very nature, about violence – to the spirit as well as to the body.’ It is about the subjugation of the human spirit. Work is not just what you do to make money or what you do to put food on the table, it’s actually an ordeal that you put yourself through and a lot of people make their work their life. They make Daniel their God or their Satan. It becomes their reason to get up in the morning. And the nature of work is fulfilling, there are a lot of fulfilling things about it – I get to do what I love doing for a living – but it’s also work. You’re putting yourself in a position to be less than and toil and I think even if you love what you do, you still have an obligation to your employer and you’re still serving someone. And that attitude of service can be one that can torture you, it can be something that you do willingly, but it’s not always the most rewarding or psychologically advancing thing.

Will: Assistance shows a workplace that has transformed into a less tangible experience over the past several decades.  There’s no real product that the assistants are making. What is the personal relationship they have to the work they’re doing, to that industry, or to their boss?

read more