David Kodeski's True Life Tales

Theatrical works based on oral history, memory, diaries, and photographs of real-life Americans.The sources of Kodeski's interest in the every day lives of real people aren't hard to find. He confesses to being a little bit "nosy " and having a great curiosity about people he sees on the street. "When I see an older person, I think 'Where did you come from and what are the things that made you who you are?'" he says. An early influence was Studs Terkel.Kodeski read Terkel's "Working," which is an account of the lives of working people told in their own words, when he was 12 years old and it had a huge impact on him. Coming from a working class background himself, Kodeski connected with the material.

"There was one story I remembered extremely well. There is a woman who works in a luggage factory and there's this whole thing about lifting huge pieces of felt and a machine that cuts them into shapes. It stuck with me." The story came back to him when he was working on "Doris". "I looked back at the story and it was like a weird experience of looking back at my own life. It was like something that had happened to me." As his work progresses Kodeski considers Terkel to be a role model in terms of how he would like to be seen. He doesn't harbor ambitions fame and fortune, but to be compared to Terkel? "Well that would be swell."

Interview and article by Josh Karp, 2000