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Interview: Maria Irene Fornes Maria Irene Fornes has written over a dozen plays in the last fifteen years, including Tango Palace, Promenade and The Successful Life of 3. She has worked with The Open Theatre and The Judson Poets' Theatre, and is currently the President of Theatre Strategy, an organization of American playwrights. This interview was taped by Bonnie Marranca in November 1977. Bonnie Marranca: Fefu and Her Friends is a departure from your other plays which are non-realistic, isn't it? Maria Irene Fornes: My first work on the play actually was less realistic. The play started in 1964. That is when I wrote some of the first scene-when Fefu takes a gun and shoots at her husband out the window ... Whether the play is realistic or less realistic has to do with the distance I have from it. I feel that the characters of Fefu are standing around me while other plays I see more at a distance. When I view a play far away from me, perhaps the characters become twodimensional . They become more like drawings than flesh and blood. The question of what ends up being a realistic play has to do with the fact that one can feel the characters breathe, rather than in a more abstract play where it is the play that breathes, not the characters. BGM: Do you feel that each of the eight women is symbolic or representative of a female personality type or quality? MF: I don't think so at all. Doesn't every character in every play have a different character than the next one? The fact that Fefu is plotless might contribute to the feeling that if the women are not related to each other, and not related to the plot, then perhaps they represent certain types. In a plot play the woman is either the mother or the sister or the girlfriend or the daughter. The purpose of the character is to serve a plot so the relationship is responding to the needs of the plot. Although Fefu is realistic, the relationship of the women, in that sense, is abstract. The purposes these characters are serving is different from how a character serves a plot. 106 BGM: How are you distinguishing between plot and plotless plays? MF: Plot, which has generally been the basis for plays, deals with the mechanics of life in a practical sense, with the mechanics of the peculiar arrangement a society makes. For example, a plot story in Alaska might be that in winter there was more sun than usual, the protagonist is in deep distress and commits suicide. And we would say: Why is that a reason for distress? Then we find out that there is reason for distress when there is more sun because the fish don't swim close to the surface. Therefore, there is no food and there is a reason for famine. There is a reason for unhappiness, a reason to commit suicide. So that in dealing with plot we are dealing with those things that have to do with external life-the mechanics of how we manage in the world. A plotless play doesn't deal with the mechanics of the practical arrangement of life but deals with the mechanics of the mind, some kind of spiritual survival , a process of thought. BGM: Fefu is a fascinating woman. She seems to be the center of the play, the most complex woman in it. Did the idea of the play grow out of the idea of Fefu? MF: Fefu took over the play ... She is the woman in the first scene that I wrote, the woman who shoots her husband as a game. The source of this play is a Mexican joke: There are two Mexicans in sombreros sitting at a bullfight and one says to the other, "Isn't she beautiful, the one in yellow?" and he points to a woman on the other side of the arena crowded with people. The other one says, "Which one?" and he takes his gun and shoots her and says, "The one that falls." In the first draft of the play Fefu explains that she started playing...