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Stagecraft Podcast: Stephen Adly Guirgis Talks Writing, Acting and ‘The Get Down’

The playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis may have a Pulitzer Prize under his belt, but his latest honor — the Residency One retrospective season at Off Broadway’s Signature Theater — at first felt to him like a nail in his coffin.

“My first reaction was, ‘Uh oh, this is like the harbinger of doom. I’m old. It’s done!'” he joked in the latest episode of Stagecraft, Variety‘s theater podcast.

The Signature season kicked off in the fall with a well-received production of “Jesus Hopped the A Train” and will continue in the spring with “Our Lady of 121st Street” and then a new play. In the new episode, Guirgis (pronounced GEAR-giss) talked about what it’s like to take an overarching perspective on his own plays as a body of work.

“When I wrote ‘Jesus Hopped the A Train,’ that was what I was struggling with, these questions of faith and becoming an adult and taking responsibility,” he said. “I want to look back and think, ‘Oh, that was 17 years ago. I graduated from that.’ But I’m like, ‘Nope, I’m still kind of exactly where that character is.’ I’m sure it’s gonna be the same for ‘Our Lady.’ I guess you never graduate.”

Guirgis also spoke about his early days with LAByrinth Theater Company and Philip Seymour Hoffman, as well as the current state of diversity in the theater, his occasional acting gigs, and his recent work on “The Get Down,” the Netflix show that he co-created with Baz Luhrmann.

“The thing that I’m most proud of,” he said of “The Get Down,” “is that we did a show where there’s five lead characters, all teenagers and all people of color. To do that is something. We filled a world with people that reflected that world. I’m very proud of that.”

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