Dominic Finocchiaro Discusses His Thesis Play

June 13, 2016

Dominic Finocchiaro’s thesis play, Trees in their youth, follows four seniors navigate the perils of privilege, race, gender and sexuality as they struggle to come of age in their cloistered Bay Area town. Along the way, it asks the questions: Who were you in high school? What do you remember? What have you chosen to forget?

Trees in their youth ran at the Ford Studio at Pershing Square Signature Center in May.

Can you tell me a little bit about the origin of this play? Where did the idea come from? Did you work on it in class?

In a big way, the piece is my attempt to get a little more personal with my plays. I’d had the pleasure of seeing some of my best playwright friends write super raw, self-revealing works that were really embraced by the community, and so I set myself the challenge to push myself in that kind of vulnerable direction, too. I started working on it in Kelly Stuart’s class my second year, and it’s really my attempt to fuse some of my own demons about high school alongside some larger-scale issues about identity and privilege and meaning well and being bad.

Who is your mentor? Why did you want them as your mentor?

Gregory S. Moss is my mentor, and when I decided to work on this project, I knew immediately that there was nobody else that I wanted. I am obsessed with all of his plays—House of Gold might be in my all-time top five. I feel like we share similar aesthetics, in that our work is really dark while still being in a primarily comic register, and I think we both like to marry formal wizardry and emotional honesty. Also, he’s one of the greatest people around at writing lived-in, believable, hilarious and heartbreaking young characters—from punkplay to Billy Witch to the out-of-this-world Indian Summer—and so I knew he’d be the right person to help me tackle my own band of misfit youths.

What would you like to be doing in 10 years?

I’d like to be teaching, definitely. And I’d like to be working or have worked in television. And still writing plays, of course! And in 10 years time I’d like to be better at loving, both myself and others. And there’ll be chihuahuas in the picture, too. There’s always chihuahuas.

Find out more about Finocchiaro and Trees in their youth here.