Terrence McNally on being a playwright

Photo of Terrence McNally, an older, balding man wearing a gray or green sweater, sitting in a chair with hist hand below his chin

Terrence McNally (1938-2020), American playwright, librettist, and screenwriter, was asked: “Is there still an argument for becoming a playwright in the age of Netflix?”

He replied: “I believe that people’s nervous systems are more open to emotions in the theater with their fellow human beings. When a play is going well, the audience breathes as one. They stop breathing. They breathe together because they’re getting this from other live people. And that doesn’t happen witching Netflix. You talk during it. The phone rings. People are in the theater for one reason: to hear this story and meet the people in it. That’s a human need. If you want to change minds, write a great Op-Ed page. But if you want to get people to feel differently, reach them through the theater.”