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Steven Sater Speaks Out on Life after Spring Awakening

Steven Sater
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by Stephanie Taylor for LAistPerhaps best known for his hit musical Spring Awakening, Steven Sater is an award-winning poet/lyricist/writer whose work spans stage, screen and the recording studio. A rock ‘n roll remake of an 19th century German coming of-age story about teenage sexuality, Spring Awakening won a litany of awards including a Tony Award for Best Book and Best Score, the Drama Desk and Outer Critics’ Circle Award for Best Lyrics, the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album and the 2010 Olivier Award for Best New Musical.

Sater’s most recent stageplay, New York Animals, is currently running in a workshop production at L.A.’s very own Rogue Machine. With 21 characters played by four actors, the play follows its lively personalities through one very long day and night in Manhattan, revealing how even the most seemingly disconnected paths can cross. Sater spoke with LAist about the development process, choosing LA over New York, and what life feels like post Spring Awakening. Excerpts from the interview follow:

LAist: So what was your inspiration for New York Animals? Could you tell me a little bit about the development process?
Sater: I wanted to capture the heart and character and interconnected nature of all the solitary, anonymous individuals who are living in New York City and how we get caught up in one another’s stories without even knowing what part of them. Ultimately, we are connected in some profound, great way. I grew up in the Midwest, and when I first moved to New York City, I was taken and caught up with life in the city and the world..….I worked on the show many years ago with a couple of scenes and then I started trying to create a journey, a place that is instinctive. I tried to create a different type of story and a different way to tell the story. It was optioned for TV, then adapted, but it had never been done. My neighbor Caroline Aaron was always asking me, “Can we get the play on?” I was busy with several movies, a number of new stage musicals and the play. She was part of a new theater company, the Rogue Machine, and she asked if we could just get it on its feet, see what we have. [Artistic director] John Flynn had a tremendous appreciation of where it fit in the heritage of dramatic theater. I was [initially] not at all involved in the production, I was too busy, but once they got it on its feet I was quite involved. It’s been a tremendous experience because I’ve been able to do so much work… There is something about playwriting that is also sculptural, when you have the play in front of you with the people who are doing it. It’s been a great playground.