Interview with Playwright Chris Holbrook

Chris Holbrook

Chris Holbrook discusses his play, Ski Lift.

What was your inspiration for this play?

A ski lift, for me, is the perfect place for great theater. You’re stuck with strangers whom you would never talk to otherwise, and there is no escape. Even better, once you arrive at the top of the mountain, you’ll probably never see them again. I love that too. You spend all this time getting to know them and then you’ve got about two seconds to say goodbye.

I started thinking about this play when I was on a ski lift in France. I was skiing alone, and half the time I would ride with total strangers. The lift was long, and we had plenty of time to small talk, or in some cases, talk about things that I’ve never discussed with anyone since. Now I don’t want to suggest that I had deeply profound discussions with these people. But at the same time, it wasn’t small talk either. The other half of the time, I rode up alone, and, surrounded by a beauty that bordered on the dream-like, I had plenty of time to think about these conversations—as well as Life’s Profound Questions that most of us succeed in blocking out during our daily lives. Somewhere in between these lifts, usually on the way down, “Ski Lift” began to percolate.

What was the most challenging part of writing this play?

As is often the case, it’s the cutting and revising, not the writing, that nearly kills you.

What playwrights have inspired you?

Recently, Joe Orton, Neil Labute, Alan Ayckbourn.

Why did you start writing plays?

I got tired of convincing myself not to write them.

What projects are you working on now?

Too many. The question is, how do I get these projects produced?

What kind of theatre excites you?

Almost anything. The one exception is the skeleton-in-the-closet, family-reunion dramas. But even those, if they’re funny, and if the acting is great, I still enjoy it.