Intimate Apparel was the first play in which I really plunged headfirst into research, in which I found that research became part of the creative process and really expanded the way in which I approached writing the play. Prior to Intimate Apparel I’d sit down and go deep into my imagination and pull some characters out. I realized with Intimate Apparel that there were people I didn’t know and I had to go in search of them, and that research became really vital to the writing of the piece. One of the ways that Intimate Apparel, which is something I do to this day, is I decided that I was going to pick the week that the play began and I was going to research as deeply as I could that week in history. And that week became the foundation for the play. So every play that I’ve written since then, I always pick one week that the play begins.
What I found is beginning my play at one given week helped center me. It helped give me a focus. I could turn to the periodicals and determine what the weather was like, and what was happening on the stock market, and what was happening on the local level, and that really informed how those characters were living and breathing. Think about, was it a smoggy day when my play began? And it just forced me to think much more deeply about the world in which the characters were immersed.