Kenneth Lonergan

Kenneth Lonergan


Courtesy of Kenneth Lonergan

Before Kenneth Lonergan wrote and directed the Sundance Film Festival hit “You Can Count On Me” and the Oscar-winning “Manchester By the Sea,” he wrote achingly realistic dramas for the stage.

Two of his plays — “This Is Our Youth” and “Lobby Hero” — have recently been revived with star-studded productions. And now, another of his plays from the turn of the century, “The Waverly Gallery,” is on Broadway. It’s directed by Lila Neugebauer and stars Elaine May, Lucas Hedges and Michael Cera.

Kurt Andersen talks to Lonergan about revisiting “The Waverly Gallery” and working with Elaine May. “It’s incredible to watch her work,” Lonergan says. 

He also talks about the art of writing realistic dialogue and finding inspiration in moments too often skipped over in movies. “I certainly gravitate towards what I like to call ultra naturalism because I really feel like it gets short shrift in a lot of films and theater,” he says. “Having your accountant or your wife or husband tell you you're running out of money is a very stressful conversation. Watching your kid go into the playground for the first time can be quite stressful. That's where I often like to go to find the stories that I like to write about.”

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