While living in Latin America teaching theater, Paz Pardo saw a play with a disappointing ending, and decided she’d write the piece she wanted to see. The result is “Rubbermatch,” about two old college friends whose reunion brings up questions about one of the women’s sexuality. Pardo, who’s worked in New York’s experimental theater scene, discusses the play, showing at the TBG Theatre, which she says is one of the more traditional works she’s developed.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
THE CHARACTERSThere’s a character that keeps cropping up in my work who’s sort of this emotionally closed off woman who dates women. I had written a version of her in an earlier work called “Duct Tape Girl and Fetish Chick Conquer the World.” In this case I wanted to explore what it is if that woman is closeted, what it is to have desires that you can’t act on because it’s not safe for you to act on them. Whether it’s not safe because of external things or because of your own internal sense of what’s right or acceptable.
THE DIALOGUEThe piece opens with one of the characters setting up the house to welcome the other one, and there’s no scene breaks. It’s just one scene straight through and it’s very much about being there in the living room with them as they’re going through these past experiences and remembering what it was like to be in college and reflecting on ‘That was 10 years ago and we have not saved the world yet, so what are we doing? And also, who are we?’
THE STORYI feel like there’s a certain queer story that gets told over and over again, which is the ‘I came out and then I was happy’ sort of story, or ‘I came out and I was comfortable with it but the world didn’t let me’ story. I think there is so much more to be mined there, just because the human experience of desire is at the heart of all theater, basically. One of the things that makes the queer experience so compelling for me on stage is, we as a culture have been interrogating what are our prejudices against this form of desire, and so it’s a very rich territory theatrically, because as soon as you see the desire on stage you often see what is the counter-desire. That becomes very complicated in a really interesting and exciting way for me.
THE FORMATI’d worked a lot in performer-driven creation, and this was the first time that I was like, ‘I’m going to try to make theater that works within the model of most of the theater in the United States.’ And that was partially a choice because I was living in Latin America and all of a sudden I didn’t have that many collaborators around. I didn’t have a pool of actors that I could call up and do a reading with. So all of a sudden I was like, ‘I need to make a thing that somebody who’s not sitting next to me can build.’ That was the point where I started to identify as a playwright as opposed to performer/director/theater artist who creates things, and instead said I’m going to be focusing on the text for right now, and that’s something that I’ve been very focused on since then.