Lisa Kron (photographed by Joan Marcus)

podcast / president
October 30, 2018
Produced by Christine Spines

Change Lab Podcast Episode 18

Lisa Kron on Turning Memory into Meaning on Broadway

Best known for her Tony Award-winning work on the Broadway hit musical Fun Home (based on Alison Bechdel’s eponymous graphic novel about coming of age and coming out) Lisa Kron is a singularly talented playwright and performer whose humor and humanity seems tailor made for these complex times. Her storytelling inhabits the vast grey area between fact and fiction, memory and invention, the political and the deeply personal, humorous and horrific.

I had never worked on a musical before Fun Home and it was the most difficult work I’ve ever done.

Lisa honed her voice as a performer and memoirist at New York City’s Wow Café Theatre, which began as an international women’s theater festival in 1980 and was the birth place of the award-winning theater collective, The Five Lesbian Brothers, of which Lisa was a founding member. Those formative experiences lead to Lisa’s breakthrough one woman show, 101 Humiliating Stories, which mined themes of identity and individuation through her precision crafted self-deprecation.

Lisa continued to explore her family’s near and distant past with increasing depth and complexity in her next two plays -- 2.5 Mile Ride and Well. Bravely placing her relationship to her father and mother at center stage, Lisa received rave reviews for both plays – eliciting comparisons to the celebrated monologist Spalding Gray.

image from 2.5 mile ride

She funneled her gift for bringing first person narration and complex family dynamics alive on the stage into Fun Home, a creative challenge that took seven years to realize. Her efforts paid off in the form of a Broadway smash that earned her two Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize nomination – the same award Lyn Manuel Miranda took home two years later for Hamilton.

In this moving and inspiring episode, Lorne and Lisa discuss her path from writing alternative theater to hit Broadway shows, the delicate process of dramatizing autobiographical material and her passion for the collective power of live performance.

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