Finally, part 2 of the series.
Sarah Treem is best known to us as the creator of the Sophie and April episodes for In Treatment, Seasons One and Two. She is now bringing Jesse to life in Season Three. Sarah, as a member of the IT team, has won both the Writers Guild of America Award and the Humanitas Award for In Treatment.
She and Dane DeHaan, who plays Jesse, tell us about the creative process and what it means to call an actor “generous” in an interview at the HBO In Treatment website. They offer a lot of insight in this conversation, so be sure to read it.
Sarah Treem: When things didn’t work, we were able to change it. There’s a lot of rewriting that gets done on In Treatment, both in rehearsal and on set. That happens when the moment looks good on the page, but is hard to play. It’s a complicated show to write because there’s a lot of exposition that has to come out of the dialogue without seeming like exposition. You’re asking the actors to say something that has to be said for the story, but it doesn’t really work in terms of the emotional through-line. Dane and Gabriel were both very good and generous about pointing out where those moments needed to be fixed.
HBO: You both characterize Gabriel’s acting as generous. What do you mean by that?
Dane DeHaan: He’s a listener. In the episodes where he is the therapist, he’s listening most of the time. It’s incredibly demanding. He’s filming three episodes a week, yet he’s able to develop a very specific and deep-seated relationship with each of the characters. When you’re talking and talking, like Jesse does, to have the other person actually and actively listening is a generous gift.
Sarah Treem: The joke is that the reason In Treatment does so well among women is because Gabriel is playing a man who listens. [Note from Stella: Hey, that’s no joke! There aren’t many listeners on TV these days and we need them…] It’s powerful for the other actors as well as the viewers. And it’s not an act–well, it is on some level because he’s acting–but, Gabriel is a listener. He’s listening to the scripts and if something isn’t working, he knows it. When he makes a note, he’s almost always right.
The smiling playwright: Sarah Treem
Sarah is also writing and producing two other HBO shows, the series How to Make It in America and an adaptation of Samantha Peale’s novel The American Painter Emma Dial, with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Emily Ziff (although some sources say she is adapting another novel, so let’s wait and see what happens). Sarah’s representative works as a playwright include A Feminine Ending; Mirror, Mirror; and Empty Sky.
Her most recent play is The How and The Why, which opens in January 2011 at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey.
Background information about Sarah:
Sarah Treem has lived up and down the eastern seaboard, but no one place for too long. She always wanted to be a playwright, which was strange in a family of doctors. Her play A Feminine Ending premiered at Playwrights Horizons in the fall of 2007, went on to productions at SouthCoast Repertory and Portland Center Stage, and was published by Samuel French. Her other plays include: Human Voices (Manhattan Theater Club’s Springboard New Play series, New York Stage and Film), Empty Sky (SouthCoast’s Pacific Playwrights Festival, winner of the Reva Shiner Playwriting award), Mirror Mirror (developed at Playwrights Horizons, Ars Nova), and Against The Wall (Source Theatre, DC; Friends of the Italian Opera, Berlin). Sarah’s latest plays include Vienna’s Amazing (Ojai Playwriting Conference) and Orphan Island (Sundance Theater Lab). She has taught playwriting at Yale, where she earned her B.A. and M.F.A. She is also producer on the HBO drama In Treatment and she’s currently writing a romantic comedy for Miramax.
Finally, here is a lovely interview with Sarah Treem, writer, and Allison Pill, who played April in Season 2:
“Young Talents Entwined in In Treatment,” New York Times, May 14, 2009.