Amy Freed
The Seattle Repertory Theatre is producing her new play, The Beard of Avon.

The word "beard" in the title refers to...? "'Beard' meaning front man, or one who masks for another."

Have you ever been someone's beard? "Probably unwittingly."

Have you ever ghostwritten for someone? "I began my writing life as a waitress; I wrote my first play standing behind the cash register of the Stanford Court Hotel, hiding from the manager during slow shifts. When your writing is that furtive and that personal, you won't ghostwrite for anyone; all you have is the fact that you wrote it. Of course, nobody else cared."

Are you now making a living from your writing? "No, but I'm making better money from my writing than I was 10 years ago. I'm not sure that there's a living to be had from playwriting for anybody. If you write plays that can be adapted into movies, there are lucrative possibilities. For most of us it's a calling, not a living. It's got other rewards, though."

Like what? "The biggest delight for me is making something happen in collaboration with other grown-ups who've never completely grown up. Especially with comedy--the process of getting a play on its feet, to be so dedicated in the pursuit of laughter--it's a wonderful escape from death."

Are you afraid of death? "Yes. Although I'm more afraid that they might figure out how to keep people alive forever."

You don't want immortality. "I think it would just make a bad situation worse, personally speaking."

Any other rewards? Do you get laid? "No, I'm married."

I'm so sorry. "There are other rewards. I started as an actress for some years, with all the helplessness that that implies, where you go for months without work, or you're on a show where the director really sucks or the material is awful or you're awful. When I started writing, I fell headfirst in love with the autonomy and the authority of writing, which, for somebody who'd come from an actress' life, was an especially heady experience."

Interview by Bret Fetzer