We asked actor, playwright, and Yale professor, Deb Margolin, some questions about her play, What Difference Does it Make?, which is going to be receiving a reading at Mile Square Theatre this Saturday, February 12th, in a new partnership between us and MST. What Difference Does it Make? is also part of our New Jersey Women Playwrights Project.
WTNJ:  During the first private reading of the play, you talked a bit about Ding A Ling A Ling Land, the setting for “What Difference Does it Make?” and how that world came to be and grow.  Could you share some of that history with our audience?
Deb:  As a child, I had very few allies, and led a sort of underground inner life. With the birth of my younger sister when I was 6-1/2, I thought: ok, here’s someone I can work with. And I created this entire world for her to live in, the eponymous Ding a Ling a Ling land. Creating a made-up world was the first agency I ever had! Everything was as I said it was! It was a telephonocracy. There was a king, but he was a figurehead, and people just made fun of him and threw stuff at him. I portrayed everyone in the town except for  my sister.
WTNJ:  As Ding A Ling A Ling Land is much larger and more complex than could be contained in a single play, could you tell us about some characters or stories from that world that weren’t included in the play?
Deb:  My sister Amy, poor child, was the wife of Ishkabibble Booble, who was hard of hearing and had some other issues including the fact that he’d lost his penis in a pickle factory accident. Ishky had 25 brothers who looked and were exactly like him, and each brother’s first name miraculously began with the same letter as his job: Dan Booble was a Doctor, Bob Booble was a butcher, Larry Booble was a lawyer, and Ishky worked for IBM. My sister Mrs. Booble had hundreds and hundreds of children despite the fact that her husband had lost his whatsoever; some of them were born older than she was, some of them were huge and one had to climb a ladder to look them in the eye; others were so small that just smacking the table to make a point could end them. There was a food machine to feed all these people, where one just pressed a button for 144 plates of lasagna or what have you, and there was an actual man inside this machine insanely cooking at a small stove, whose tragic life was covered by the story, and lots of other townsfolk, most of them illogical or egotistical or strange in some unspeakable manner. I’m proudest of foreseeing, at age 9 or 10, the corporatocracy the world would become. All the rules of the Ding a Ling a Ling Land Constitution pertained to the use of the telephone, and many of these laws were sung and enacted. There was a lot of music involved.
WTNJ:  Both of your children are involved in the theatre and we recently did a reading of Vagabonds, your daughter Molly Kirschner’s play.  How do you think growing up with powerful and detailed imagined worlds like Ding A Ling A Ling Land benefits children and artists?
Deb:  Ah, the theater, the written word, the imagination, belongs to whoever is demented enough to claim it! I think raising my children on storytelling made storytellers of them; they listen for the essence of things, and they LAUGH! They listen for and to the music of comedy! Of the absurdity and beauty of all human endeavor! They have grabbed these prerogatives, and with them, responsibilities, with both hands! it is a source of such joy to me to have shared this with my kids, and as a professor of theater, to share it with students. Analogizing, imagining, protesting, singing, making up the lives we fear to live, the lives we aspire to live: this is how we’re going to get through these strange hard times we’re in!

Don’t miss What Difference Does it Make? by Deb Margolin – February 12 at 6 p.m. at Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken, NJ!