Name: Abigail Carney and Elliah Heifetz
Elliah Heifetz: Philadelphia, PA
Abigail Carney: Grafton, Ohio
EH: We're both still working on our BA's at Yale University.
AC: But next year Elliah will be getting music educated in LA and with the Whiffenpoofs.
AC: The Gloaming at the Young Playwrights Festival. I also wrote part of a melodrama set in 1867 that premiered at the Alaska Day Festival and will now be performed annually in Sitka, Alaska. It's got bad Russian accents.
EH: Bringing Dust Can't Kill Me to FringeNYC! That, or opening for Diplo at Yale's Spring Fling concert with my college rock band. Diplo seems like a really great guy.
EH: It's the only kind of music that let's me get away with being as corny as I feel most of the time. But actually, it's incredible to compose for theater: I love to do both music and lyrics, and musical theater songs combine the two more than any other kind.
AC: When you write a play you get the chance to watch people inhabit it. Hopefully when you write a story or poem, people interpret it for themselves and take some meaning from the characters, but you know an actor does that when they've taken on a role. And of course the director, the designers, and, if you’re lucky, the audience are also interacting with and understanding the story in their own way.
Tell us about Dust Can’t Kill Me:
EH: It's a folk tale about a ragtag group of characters struggling through the late '30s in the middle of the Dust Bowl. They're visited by a traveling-salesman type who calls himself a prophet and promises them an end to their hunger and pain if they follow him out into the desert. Of course, they get there, and nothing is like they'd expected.
AC: It's a show that's trying to figure out what makes living worth it when most things aren't going so well. And it’s got songs that make you want to dance, sing, cry.
What inspired you to write Dust Can’t Kill Me?:
EH: We had been meaning to write a musical together, so we literally sat down and said, "I like folk music." "I like prophets." "I like ghost stories." And then tried to spin a story using all of those elements. Not very sophisticated, but it worked!
AC: It did take us awhile to spin it using all the elements we wanted. We spent several months talking through the story before we started writing.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
EH: I love old, great musicals—my favorite is South Pacific, and I'm a huge Cole Porter fan. I'm also really into a few of the recent rock musicals, like Passing Strange and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. I think Michael Friedman's score for that is brilliant.
AC: I got really into Irish playwrights last year. Good old John Synge and Samuel Beckett. Flannery O'Connor was an influence for Dust Can't Kill Me, as were Bob Dylan, John Milton, and the Ken Burns documentary about the Dust Bowl. But most of what I write comes from the people I know.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:
EH: Anthony Bourdain. I don't know how or what we would do, but if you're reading this, Tony, do you need an intern?
AC: Elon Musk.
What show have you recommended to your friends?:
EH: I don't mean to be redundant, but I didn't shut up about Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson for a while after I saw it. It just had so much guts—a punk rock musical about the early 19th century is the only thing I want ever.
AC: Okay this is a movie, but right now I'm telling everyone to go see Snowpiercer. It's a fantastically important movie about climate change and what's wrong with our society. I just saw The Travels at NYMF, which our very own Jamie Bogyo is in, and I'm recommending that for this week. Also can't wait for This Is Our Youth, which I've only read.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?:
EH: If I were older, George Clooney would play me. If it were about me now, a young George Clooney would play me. It would be called "Stoked and Underqualified."
AC: If I were a man, George Clooney would play me. But if I were me now, Natalie Portman. It would be called "American Gothic".
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?:
EH: Taylor Swift.
AC: I chew a lot of ice cubes. I also listen to the music from Dust Can't Kill Me when I'm working.
What’s the most played song on your iTunes?:
AC: "City With No Children" by Arcade Fire.
EH: "Mother and Child Reunion" by Paul Simon.
If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?:
AC: Writing something else.
EH: Trying to write pop songs for really attractive people.
What’s up next?:
EH: I meant that, I'll be trying to write pop songs for people who look better than I do.
AC: In August, I’ll be participating in The 24 Hour Plays: The Nationals at the New School for Drama. And we’re writing another musical! There will be more crazy love in this one.
For more on Dust Can't Kill Me, visit www.dustcantkillmethemusical.com