GIRL Talk With Director Matt Miller

Matt Miller

What’s your all-time favorite cop thriller?

Turner & Hooch. No question. (I kid, I kid… )
Probably Scorsese’s The Departed.

And on TV?
Law & Order if that qualifies. I think it does.

What about when you were a kid?
I wasn’t really into cop shows specifically, but I loved detective stories. I obsessively read the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown and Agatha Christie in elementary school. In middle school I discovered “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and would devour the collections of short stories he edited. I still love stories that have a twist at the end—stories that challenge you as the reader to solve the mystery before the characters in the story do.

Any theories on why we can’t seem to get enough of the police procedural in this country?
I think our appetite for this genre has to do with the structure of these stories. People love puzzles. Our brains are really wired for two things: stories and problem solving. So a story with a puzzle to solve in it is naturally appealing.

Joshua handed you the first draft of A Girl With Sun in Her Eyes in November. What compelled you to bring this story to the stage?

The thing that seduced me about this play was the fact that it is a brand of story we are most accustomed to seeing on TV, not onstage. I was—and am—interested in exploring how this type of story changes within a theatrical context. When the camera doesn’t control what the viewer sees, you have to be much more precise as a director with the action onstage—the details, the placement of props and actors. It’s a fun challenge.

One of the earlier scenes in A Girl With Sun In Her Eyes takes place outside a strip club. Ever visited one?
Once, for a friend’s bachelor party. It was a very sad experience overall.

“If a part of you, no matter how small it is, wants to hurt a woman … you will.”

— Officer Lucy Manis (played by Audrey Francis)

I find the violence in the play to be thrilling, and a little sexy if I’m honest. But as a woman I often catch myself feeling conflicted about its effect on me. To the people who feel strongly about the fetishization of violence at a woman’s expense, what do you say?
We are capable of so many profound things as humans: great love, great magnanimity, and great violence.

I don’t think this play celebrates that capacity for violence at all, but it certainly recognizes what we are all capable of doing. And yes, I also think some of the violent acts in this play are pretty thrilling, but I also think violence onstage is attractive primarily because it is active and action always draws the eye. All the violence in this play has consequences, and that should not be overlooked. No one really gets away clean.

–As told to Dramaturg Susan E. Bowen.

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