An Interview with Benjamin Benne

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And now we catch up with our next IRL: Craigslist artist, playwright Benjamin Benne!

HR: Ben, for IRL: Craigslist, what are you working on?
BB: So my guilty confession is that I have never actually used Craigslist! I’ve perused but I’ve never purchased anything, I’ve never engaged with anyone on Craigslist before so this was kind of interesting, and of course the topic that I got was Politics which is the hardest topic I think I could have gotten. 
As an artist, I think I tend to not approach work from that standpoint initially. I mean, everything is always political so that is always going to be a part of it but I never start from the political. 
And of course, when I first started looking at what people were posting for Politics on Craigslist, it was all Hillary, Hillary, Hillary, Trump, Trump, Hillary, Trump and I just thought oh god, what am I going to write about? But I’ve been checking it every now and again just to see what pops up. The other thing I’ve noticed is that people love to post about conspiracy theories on Craigslist, so there’s been a few interesting things that have caught my eye. 
I haven’t started writing the piece yet but I’ve been coming across articles about these other worldly sounds that are occurring all across the world, and it’s this conspiracy theory that it’s like the heralds of the apocalypse and there are these sounds that are often described as a garbage or dump truck but it’s coming from the sky and there are no vehicles around when this is happening.
HR: And this is under the political section?
BB: Yeah! So I just thought that was kind of hilarious and it caught my attention and I definitely watched some of the videos just to see what people captured. So that’s got my eye at the moment. I have no idea how that’s going to turn into a play but right now, that’s what I am digging into. 
HR: So conspiracy theories, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are basically your three topics to choose from…
BB: Yeah, basically. And I already wrote a Donald Trump play so I have no interest in continuing to explore my feelings in that area. Plus I think when I am writing something like this, I need it to be something really specific and the last thing I want to write is very generic presidential election-oriented piece, I think that is a little passé at this point.
HR: Given the technological world that we find ourselves in, I think about how we can get anything from a couch to sex off Craigslist because it’s so accessible. What do you think are some pro’s and con’s?
BB: For the most part, I’ve heard really good stories about people who connect via Craigslist, on multiple levels, whatever it is that they are searching for, it sounds like they make really nice connections. But then you know there are the downsides, I had a friend who posted recently that someone was going to come get a piece of furniture from her and never showed up. So I think on one hand, the amazing thing about technology is that people who can use it responsibly can make really wonderful connections and it can be incredibly beneficial. But on the flip side, because things are so accessible, it’s kind of like getting a free ticket, in the sense that oh you know, it’s free so it’s not the end of the world if I don’t go. So I think it does promote a sense of sloth, laziness, things aren’t as valuable because we can get them so easily in so many ways, whether it be a piece of furniture or sex or whatever. Those things almost become so accessible via technology that we just don’t value it in the same way. 
HR: Is there an internet fad that you refuse to take part in? Or that you are morally opposed to?
BB: I feel like I am always behind the curve on every technology front, I am always really suspicious. So I am not on Snapchat, I am not on Twitter. I just got on Instagram! I do like it as a document, it’s a visual diary in a sense. So I would say that I pretty much object to every form of social media and technology. 
HR: Is there one that you can’t live without?
BB: Facebook, for sure. Which is funny, because that was one thing that I was actually ahead of the curve on. I remember you had to have a college email to get an account so I remember that it was still a little exclusive at the time but now everyone has it and it’s a part of everyone’s daily life. I am very rooted in the world of Facebook. 
HR: Can you tell us a little about what you are working on outside of IRL?
BB: Absolutely! So right now, I am on fellowship at the Playwright’s Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, so I am here doing a one-year residency as a One-Year Fellow and I basically get to work on whatever projects interest me throughout the year. So I am working on five different plays over the course of this next year and then just doing various workshops. One of my plays just got selected for a workshop as part of Playwright’s Week at the Lark so I am being flown out to New York next month to do work for one week with the cast and then we will get to do a really cool showcase of the play in New York City which is amazing, that will be the first time I’ll have a full length play featured at a major institution in New York so that feels pretty wonderful. 

Benjamin Benne is one of four IRL: Craigslist playwrights creating an original piece for this event using the topic “Politics” from Craigslist.