David L. Kimple is a playwright originally from Merritt Island, Florida (“Where dreams are launched!”). His play MMF premiered in the 2014 NY Fringe and was noted by TheatreMania and GLAAD as one of the most anticipated shows of the festival. Who is Theo? received its world premiere at Bristol Valley Theater (Naples, NY) and Mare in the Men’s Room was presented as a limited-engagement in NYC as part of The Araca Project by Goldfish Memory Productions. David is a graduate of Florida State University.
Part of Quince Productions’ 2016 GayFest!, Kimple’s play MMF [Male, Male, Female—abbreviation used in the dating world],a dark comedy, in which Dean, Jane, and Michael’s polyamorous relationship comes to an end. The trio is forced to deal with the consequences of love in a nontraditional relationship. MMF explores the realities of love, need, want, and people who don’t know the difference. TheatreMania gave this tongue-in-cheek recommendation of MMF, a rarely discussed, taboo topic: “Go see this show so you have something interesting to talk about over Thanksgiving dinner this year.” [Drake Theater, 302 S. Hicks Street] August 19-27, 2016; quinceproductions.com
Henrik Eger: When first did you discover that you liked the theater world?
David Kimple: I did my first play—The Princess and the Pea—when I was just a little kid, but I didn’t properly get the ‘bug’ until high school. We did this musical during my Freshman year of high school called Pom Pom Zombies which was absurd and wonderful. I played the lead nerd who creates a weapon to save the school from Zombie Cheerleaders, and this event was obviously life changing. I promptly let go of sports and went all in on being in the entertainment industry.
Eger: How did you grow into becoming a playwright?
David Kimple: I wrote my first play in college during a writing class, but didn’t get serious about it until after I moved to New York. I was working as an actor (or server, depending on the week) and often found myself far more interested in having a larger voice than I had as a hired actor. I started writing and producing. The rest is history.
Eger: Looking at your writing as a whole, what subjects and patterns have emerged?
David Kimple: Ah! This is a terrifying question. Marsha Norman says that all playwrights have their “stuff”—the things they draw from and bring out in each of their stories. Overall, I’m still figuring out what exactly my stuff is, but I can acknowledge a few bits. All my shows seem to have some element of the traditional “why bother existing?” story, unconventional romantic/sexual relationships, and abrupt comedy.
Eger: Tell us about the genesis of the play that is going to be performed at GayFest! 2016 in Philadelphia?
David Kimple: I started writing MMF for a good handful of reasons. When you see the show, you’ll see that it’s a lot about the challenges of relationships in a very basic way. It’s not so much exploring the intricacies of a three-person relationship in a way that paints it as “other” but, rather, more pointed at using that three-person structure to explore the meaty truth of impactful love.
Using these three characters, I had an opportunity to create a space in which bisexuality could exist without being problematized. Dean, Jane, and Michael are/were in a committed relationship in a way that I’ve never personally experienced, but I have had relationships with women and relationships with men. This story is, if I’m simplifying things, a world in which I bring those histories together.
Eger: What do you like the most about MMF and why?
David Kimple: Though it isn’t technically true, I think of this play as my “first play.” I have a great fondness for it and the amount of time it took to shape and develop. I kept it very close to the chest for a while because it felt like no one else would be able to bring it to life the way that I had envisioned it. Now that it is out in the world, I have learned that the story seems to ring true for everyone in a different way, and that makes me beam with excitement.
Eger: If there were to be a sequel or a companion play, what would the subject be?
David Kimple: I think it would be about Michael. Maybe a year after this story ends and he is in some wackadoodle farce or something. I’d have to go far beyond the tone and texture of MMF if I wanted to write these characters again.
Eger: What is it about Michael that could lead to a new play?
David Kimple: If I’m being honest, Michael is the character that I (purposefully) know the least about. He was written as “the other.” In a way and, at least in my opinion, his story is really only just getting started when we get to the end of this play. There is something about him that leaves me guessing every time and because of this, I know I could spend more time getting to know the full life of him in another context.
Eger: What responses have your plays elicited?
David Kimple: They’ve elicited a lot of different things (I hope). I don’t know that I would want to tell anyone to focus on one thing specifically. There are so many layers to these stories that each person will pick up on something entirely different, depending on where they are in their lives.
Eger: If you could address the audience at GayFest! 2016 directly in a curtain speech, what would you say?
Kimple: “Go into it with an open mind.”
Eger: What is your connection to the LGBT community?
David Kimple: I love queer people. I tend to practice the kind of lifestyle that doesn’t highlight queerness but, rather, simply allows it without comment. I don’t think that this is “right” or “better” than the ways that others interact with their queerness, it’s just who I am. I prefer to just exhibit queerness without problematizing it.
Eger: What do you like the most about the gay world?
David Kimple: Perhaps the history? I love looking back on the history of queerness. I can romanticize the plight of the queer person pretty easily. It has certainly provided quite a lot of fuel for me artistically.
Eger: Could you give an example where your romanticizing the plight of the queer person has impacted your work artistically?
David Kimple: I have one show called Mare in the Men’s Room which was semi-inspired by the drag queen Barbette. There are these fabulous images of her half-baked (half way into drag) that made my jaw drop the first time I saw them. Imagining this person who was brazen enough to practice their queerness as publicly as she did in the 1930’s totally blows my mind. So I used that inspiration directly for the main character Brig who decides to be a drag king. Her drag king character is a drag queen like Barbette.
Eger: What troubles you about the gay world, if anything?
David Kimple: Queers who are self-hating because of their upbringing. It breaks my heart to meet people who can’t embrace and allow their queerness without shame, hate, and fear.
Eger: What are your plans for upcoming plays?
David Kimple: My newest show is called Sink, Florida, Sink. It deals with a group of people living on Cocoa Beach, Florida after the majority of Florida has sunk under the weight of 11 super hurricanes over four years. I’m hoping to place that world premiere sometime soon. (Wink, wink.)
Eger: Tell us about the work you do when you are not writing plays?
David Kimple: When I’m not writing plays, I work as the Licensing Manager for Samuel French, Inc. which is [the world’s largest] play publishing and licensing company. I lead our licensing team in placing shows with theaters all over the world. We’re working to be a resource for producers who are planning their seasons and then ensure that the proper contracting is taken care of on behalf of the playwrights. Of course, it’s all a bit more nuanced than that, but I’ll spare you the details. The company is absolutely fantastic. I’ve totally fallen in love with it and the work.
Eger: Would you be willing to share something with us that only your very best friends know about you?
David Kimple: I’m a total ambivert. Most people seem to perceive my personality as being extroverted because I’ve got a lot of energy and tend to be good with a crowd, but I love and need my time alone in a major way. I’m also a sucker for one-liners.
Eger: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
David Kimple: I’m racing the clock on a trip to Oregon Shakespeare Festival, [where visitors can see up to nine plays in one week] so I’ve written the responses on my flight from NYC. What a world! Thank you for going and seeing MMF. I’m not going to make it to Philadelphia for the opening, unfortunately. Wish I could!
Eger: Thanks for sharing, David, and “bon voyage” on your theatrical journeys—both as a playwright and the man who is leading the Samuel French licensing team to theaters around the globe.
MMF, 75 minutes. Louis Bluver Theatre @ the Drake, 302 S. Hicks St. (between 15/16, Spruce/Pine). Friday, August 19 9:30 pm (preview); Saturday, August 20 7 pm OPENING; Thursday, August 25 7 pm; Friday, August 26 7 pm; Saturday, August 27 7 pm. Visit quinceproductions.tix.com for tickets to this and all other GayFest! 2016 shows. To learn more about the playwright, visit davidkimple.com.