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1000 PLAYWRIGHT INTERVIEWS

1000 Playwright Interviews The first interview I posted was on June 3, 2009.  It was Jimmy Comtois.  I decided I would start interview...

Aug 3, 2020

I Interview Playwrights Part 1094: E.E. Adams



photo by Deborah Lopez

E.E. Adams


Hometown:  Johnstown, PA

Current Town:  NYC, NY

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I'm in the process of turning a play of mine, "Snow Globe", into a TV pilot. It's about mothers, daughters and Cryonics. I'm also having a ton of fun flexing my novel writing skills during lockdown. I'm also currently working on my first novel. It's called "Jackal". It's about a young Black woman who returns to her hometown for her best friend's wedding. However, when the bride's young daughter is viciously snatched during the ceremony, she must race against the clock to find the girl and ensure that no others are taken. It's a dark supernatural thriller that explores the racially charged history of small-town America.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  When I spent summers at my Dad's house, I was the kid who had to go to the library every week. I'd get like three to five books and then read them all at once. They were always vastly different genres with overly ambitious page counts. I still do that, I'm always reading at least two things at a once and working on at least two things at a time. Every project I undertake is always overly ambitious and I really wouldn't have in any other way.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  It seems like everything about theatre is changing right now and that is both terrifying and exciting. I hope that after this theatres keep finding inventive ways to invite more people into the room. Both physically and creatively. This change is an incredible opportunity and I really hope it isn't wasted.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Adrienne Kennedy. Lynn Nottage. Kirsten Greenidge.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Necessary stories. A story that is begging to be told or one that people are hungry for.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Watch plays. Read plays. And write a ton. Be curious about the world as a whole, not just theatre. Engage in all kinds of storytelling, podcasts, books, newspapers, blogs, family stories, community stories, history etc. Art is like breathing, you need to inhale and just as much as you exhale or else you'll suffocate.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  My play "Ink'dWell" will be developed with the New Light Theatre Project this fall. Stay tuned for info about a digital presentation here: https://www.newlighttheaterproject.com/
Follow my work here: www.iameeadams.com


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Jul 27, 2020

I Interview Playwrights Part 1093: A.A. Brenner



A.A. Brenner

Hometown: New York City

Current Town: New York City

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I'm currently in rehearsals for a Zoom reading of EMILY DRIVER'S GREAT RACE THROUGH TIME AND SPACE, my co-written play with Gregg Mozgala for all audiences, which was featured on the 2020 Kilroys List and was originally commissioned by La Jolla Playhouse. This reading will be produced by Queens Theatre and The Museum, Arts & Culture Access Consortium (MAC) in honor of the 30th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act. 

And I've also plunged into drafting BLANCHE & STELLA, which is a (very loose) modernized adaptation of Tennessee Williams' A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE with a dash of THE GLASS MENAGERIE as well. The show features an all-female+ cast, no Stanley, and a Gentleman Caller who isn't a gentleman. Needless to say, I'm pretty excited about this one.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  As a young queer kid growing up with Cerebral Palsy, I was beyond lucky to have been taken under the wing of my great-aunt Helen, who was a Polio survivor and a 1st grade teacher in the Brooklyn Public School system for over 40 years. Aunt Helen literally taught me how to read and write—we wrote my first story ever together when I was 4 years old—and also instilled in me her passion for the theatre, taking me to matinees that I was definitely far too young to see and very afraid of (the end of Beauty and the Beast is pretty intense for a two year-old), but also totally captivated by. She didn't have any kids or a family of her own, so I became her de-facto "grandchild," and her motto, "You can do anything you want to do, be anything you want to be, if you try" is something that sticks with me until this day. 

Aunt Helen unfortunately passed away when I was 14, and my first play, which I wrote shortly thereafter, was my attempt at coming to terms with her illness and death, as my family and I took her in for the last nine months of her life. I've been writing plays ever since, and have come to view my career as a playwright as one of the last (and most important) gifts she's ever given me.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  Accessibility. We need more and different stories about all kinds of people, not just the cis-, white, able-bodied mainstream, and we also need to make the actual act of watching / attending theatre more accessible to communities who may not be able to physically get to the theatre, whether for economic, geographic, or disability status-related reasons.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  I was inspired to write my first play about my Aunt's passing after reading THE GLASS MENAGERIE as a freshman in high school, so Tennesee Williams is a big one for me. My professors at Columbia University School of the Arts, where I'm entering the third-year of my MFA, are huge heroes of mine as well (Lynn Nottage, David Henry Hwang, and Chuck Mee). And then, of course, there's Paula Vogel.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I love theatre that breaks boundaries and challenges societal power-structures and theatrical form. That's the kind of theatre I strive to make, and is also the kind of theatre I most enjoy. I love theatre that surprises you, and that invites you to interrogate the complexities of life, humanity, and our own mortality. And I love theatre that dives into seemingly-opposed dichotomies headfirst, that addresses the cognitive dissonance inherent to our lives, cultures, and selves, and that shows audiences that "both things can be true."

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Just keep writing, and write stories that honestly and truthfully interrogate the deep questions you have and hold onto. And get uncomfortable. Because if you're uncomfortable, it means you're writing something that matters to you. And if it matters to you, it's probably going to matter to a lot of other people as well.

Q:  Plugs, please: 

A:  You can register for the Zoom reading of EMILY DRIVER'S GREAT RACE THROUGH TIME AND SPACE, which will be presented at 2 pm EST on Wednesday, 7/29, here: https://queenstheatre.org/event/emily-drivers-great-race-through-time-and-space/. If you can't make the reading, a recording of the performance will be available on the Queens Theatre website until August 1st at www.queenstheatre.org

And for more about me and my work, you can check out my website (www.aabrenner.com) and my New Play Exchange page (https://newplayexchange.org/users/17071/aa-brenner). 

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Jul 25, 2020

My new socially distant play



Last week I posted about my new play on Facebook and Twitter.

"My new play is meant to be performed outside by two actors quarantined together (1M, 1F) who can play a couple. It takes place in a parking lot and people watch from the safety of their cars. Anyone want to read it?"

I had 2 productions planned before I posted.  Now there are 4.  And 6 recs on New Play exchange.  I sent it to about 180 or so people who asked. (Let me know if you want to read it and are not on NPX)

Tiny_Theater did a reading in two parts (although it's a 60 minute play)

Part 1 is here

Part 2 is here


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Jul 23, 2020

I Interview Playwrights Part 1092: T.J. Young




TJ Young

Hometown: Friendswood, TX

Current Town: Pittsburgh, PA

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I am working on an adaptation of The Three Musketeers, a live streaming/augmented reality project, and preparing for a reading of my new play titled Unnamed Baby Play.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A: I would change the way we approach accessibility. I think that we are often really mindful of physical accessibility needs, but keeping in mind the social-economic needs of audiences is important as well. I know there are companies who are doing fantastic work in that regard but I feel like there is a long way to go to truly address it.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A: August Wilson, Paula Vogel, Stew, Steven Sater, Brecht, Suzan-Lori Parks

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A: Theater that looks at the intersectionality of characters and how they all bring their own baggage to a situation really gets me pumped. The plays that mess with verisimilitude and explore the internal and the magical excite me as well. When a play has fun things for designers to do and think about, utilizes high levels of theatricality, and explores deep psychological questions through those tools, I find it to be a winning combination to me.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  The best advice that I ever got and continue to get is to show up ready to learn every day. You get better by writing, so continue to write even when it is hard.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  www.tj-young.com
subTEXT Solutions Dramaturgy Group; www.subtextsolutions.com

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Jul 22, 2020

I Interview Playwrights Part 1091: Azure D. Osborne-Lee



Photo credit Gaspar Marquez

Azure D. Osborne-Lee

Hometown: Oak Ridge, TN

Current Town: Brooklyn, NY

Q:  What are you working on now? 

A:  I'm working on a short piece called "Sundown Support" that's going to be a part of #WhileWeBreathe, a Night of Creative Protest to Benefit the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be? 

A:  I'd make theatre more inclusive, truly inclusive! I want theatre to be more accessible and more reflective of the demographics of the world as-is.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes? 

A:  If pressed I would say that Tarell Alvin McCraney is my favorite playwright. Sharon Bridgforth and Daniel Alexander Jones are forever theatrical heroes of mine.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you? 

A:  I love new work! Theatre that challenges expectations, surprises me, scandalizes me -- that's what excites me. I also love some good stage magic, sets and props that transform into other things.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out? 

A:  Wear one hat at a time. If you're writing a draft (especially the first draft), your only job is to do what you need to get the words on the page. Do not try to wear your editor hat while you're generating content. Don't think too much about how the work will be done. Just write what you think needs to happen. Listen to your characters. Listen to your body. Listen to your guides.

Q:  Plugs, please: 

A:  My website is azureosbornelee.com. Keep up with what I'm doing there! My production company is Roots and River Productions. We can always use support and donations.
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Jul 21, 2020

I Interview Playwrights Part 1090: Amy Drake






Amy Drake

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

Current Town: Columbus, Ohio and New York, New York (prior to Covid-19)

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I have the honor of taking part in the Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive. I am currently writing, and re-writing, scenes as part of the program. It’s all very exciting and challenging.

My play, SOMEWHERE I CAN SCREAM, a true crime drama from the 1920s, was selected for an off-Broadway residency at The Players Theatre in NYC in spring 2020. The play is about the only Olympic gold medal winner to have been executed in the electric chair after being convicted of his lovers’ murder. Based on testimony, I have concluded that Dr. Snook, the accused, was unjustly put to death, a position which would be supported by modern forensics. Thankfully, the play has been rescheduled for production in early 2021. I am in the process of finalizing the script for publication and placement in Bravo’s Bookstore.

During the spring, I was quite pleasantly trapped in Florida due to the lockdown and wrote a 10-minute surreal play titled SHOPPERS PARADISE about grocery shopping at Whole Foods. The play has been picked up for three Zoom theater festivals this summer. It would be cool to turn this play into a web series.

I have completed a draft of ST. MARGARET OF CORTONA, a play about the 13th century Italian saint who is lying in an incorruptible (undecomposed) state in Italy. She led a wild life before taking vows as a nun and miracles have been attributed to her. My play is about her journey. Rewrite—rewrite—rewrite. Looking toward production when theaters reopen.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  I wrote my first play when I was five years old. My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Rice, liked it so much it was performed for the class. In it two characters talked about something funny that happened in my neighborhood. So, inspiration to write for the stage is innate. Growing up, I was not encouraged to be creative, so it took decades to get back to working with my gift, which is how I view my impetus to write for the theater.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  I would like to encourage women, especially those starting out in college, to consider careers in theater design and technology. It seems we have gone backwards in those areas in terms of gender balance.

I can’t wait for theaters to open back up! May the pandemic end soon, so we can be healthy and get back to business. I am optimistic. Theater has always come back after a catastrophe.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Daryl Roth, producer; Theresa Rebeck, playwright; Steven Dietz, playwright; Mark Harvey Levine, king of the 10-minute play, and Sacha Guitry, early twentieth-century Renaissance Man of the French theater.

I would also like to recognize early women of theater whose names and works are largely forgotten, but shaped the course of theater. I presented a lecture about these women at a Statera Conference and at an IUGTE conference (International University Global Theatre Experience) in Austria. Both sessions were attended by university professors who had not heard of many of the women playwrights, such as Hannah Cowley, Mary Pix, and Susanna Centlivre. Some of these playwrights were successful and many presented more realistic plays than those penned by male writers. Their works should be taught alongside plays by men of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  New works. When I read the synopsis of a new play that intrigues me, I am likely to go see it. I enjoy experiencing something unique and inventive.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Invest in your career by getting into the best workshops and development opportunities you can find. Instead of going the MFA route, I chose to get an MS in marketing and communication and an MA in liberal studies/English. Both degrees have helped me immensely in my theatrical career. I also have a business background which has helped me navigate the business of theater. When I decided to seriously pursue a career in theater, I invested in my future by attending writing workshops at the University of Cambridge, the Kenyon Summer Institute, and the Yale Writers’ Workshop, all amazing programs.

Get involved. Writing is a solitary business, but networking and building relationships are key elements to success. I’m a joiner. I have also been active in professional theater organizations, including Ken Davenport’s PRO, Inner Circle, and The Theatermakers Studio, the League of Professional Theatre Women, the Dramatists Guild, and the International Centre for Women Playwrights. Through these associations and by attending conferences I have made great friends and collaborated with colleagues.

Keep writing and stick with it. I have been actively writing plays for eight years and I am still learning and growing as a playwright. I am grateful for the experiences I’ve had and look for new opportunities.

Q:  Plugs, please: see above

A:  I’m so thrilled to be on The Kilroys List 2020! Hearing my name and play title read by Sandra Oh during the Zoom celebration was the icing on the cake.




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Jul 15, 2020

I Interview Playwrights Part 1089: Annabelle Lee Revak



Annabelle Lee Revak


Hometown: Spooner, WI

Current Town: Chicago, IL

Q:  What are you working on now? 

A:  A musical fairytale called Starfall. It's about two people from opposite ends of the universe trying to understand each other, and how their journey as friends creates the first shooting star.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person. 

A:  My cousins and I got the nickname 'The Carpet Ruiners' growing up. We scattered crayon shavings because we imagined they were fairy dust, we spilled bottles of nail polish- we melted Laffy Taffy into the carpet once. But it was always because we were making something. I think that's why art has always been messy for me; I'm happy to throw a first draft at the wall and see what sticks, knowing that lots of it may not 'work'. But if you don't make the mess, you can't clean it up.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be? 

A:  I'd make it more inclusive. In all aspects; the people on the theatre board, the creative team, the cast, the writers, the musicians. There are so many perspectives from which you can tell a story, and we so often get stuck in a rut.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes? 

A:  Honestly, my high school drama/music teachers, Mr. Thornley and Mrs. Schultz. I'm from a very small town and I wouldn't have known about musical theatre at all if it weren't for them.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you? 

A:  Anything that forces me to use my imagination; if I leave the theatre with wonderings or questions, if the show made me think, I'm happy.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out? 

A:  I think I'm a just-starting-out playwright, myself. You just have to start, throw yourself in head-first. And call yourself a playwright, if you've written twelve plays or one scene. People believe what you project.

Q:  Plugs, please: 

A:  I have an EP coming out titled "Hummingbird" on 07/17. All proceeds on release day will go to Broadway for Racial Justice (https://www.bfrj.org/), and 75% of proceeds every day after will continue to be given to BFRJ. Album info here: https://annabelleleerevak.bandcamp.com/album/hummingbird 


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Jul 14, 2020

I Interview Playwrights Part 1088: Christina Hamlett




Christina Hamlett


Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  Three new books (including 101 Plots for Stage, Page and Cinema), several performing arts articles, and about half a dozen new plays. One of the reasons I’ve never had writer’s block is because whenever I discover I’ve written myself into a mental cul-de-sac, there’s no shortage of other projects to which I can switch over and recharge.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  As an only child, I was a voracious reader (I still am!) and would entertain myself by writing plays for my puppets, stuffed animals and Barbie dolls. I supplied all of their voices as well; on the days I was especially boisterous, the neighbors would ask my parents, “How many children do you have exactly?” In school, I never took drama or acted in any productions. Instead, I fell into theatre purely as a result of being in the right place at the right time. Specifically, my first job out of high school was writing movie and play reviews for a weekly newspaper. On the afternoon I went to do a write-up for the local melodrama company’s upcoming production, the heroine forgot there was a rehearsal and they needed someone to stand in and read her lines. My impromptu acting must have impressed them because they not only wrote in a role for me but tasked me to be understudy for all the women in the cast. It was the fortuitous start to 16 years treading the boards as an actress, director and manager of my own acting company.

Q:  When you finish a new script, who’s the first person to read it?

A:  My husband. We do lively table reads in the dining room over adult beverages. Since we can both do a wide range of accents, I’m sure that when the windows are open, the neighbors must think there are at least 17 other people living with us. (Not unlike my childhood, right?)

Q: Of all the scripts you've written, do you have a personal favorite?

A: I think every actor and playwright will say that their favorite is whichever one they're currently involved in. For me, though, The Knight of the Honest Heart, will always be among my fondest memories. It's a sweet Medieval romance in which an ambitious young cobbler named Crispin seeks to woo a princess named Lady Elaine by pretending to be a knight. As their flirtation grows, he's torn by the realization he has fallen in love with her and, thus, owes her the truth. Imagine his delight and relief when he discovers that the object of his affections is actually Celia (Lady Elaine's lady in waiting) who was also questing for some adventure. The Knight of the Honest Heart, is the first script I sold to PLAYS Magazine in 1980. Twenty years--and many, many scripts--later, I wrote the sequel for PLAYS in which we learn how Crispin and Celia's lives turned out. My relationship with this publisher is one that continues going strong well into the 21st century and attests to the value of building one's brand and staying faithful to it.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward, Neil Simon, Bernard Slade.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Compelling storylines, watchable characters, plausible and sustainable conflicts, amazing set designs, and music that I’m still humming weeks after the curtain has come down.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Attend as many plays as you can. If you can’t attend in person, consider these venues for play-watching: www.dramanotebook.com/watch-free-plays-online, https://www.timeout.com/theatre/best-streaming-theatre-shows-how-to-watch-online, https://www.playbill.com/article/15-broadway-plays-and-musicals-you-can-watch-on-stage-from-home, https://broadwaydirect.com/where-to-watch-musicals-online-the-musical-lovers-guide-to-streaming/,https://www.digitaltheatre.com/ and https://www.pbs.org/show/great-performances/.

Take some acting classes. Even better, get yourself cast in something! It will hone your playwriting skills in pacing, structure, character development, dialogue, and set design.

Recruit friends to read your scenes out loud for you. This is invaluable insofar as determining whether the conversations sound natural or stilted.

Be an original and don’t write to “trends.” As popular as it is to use theatre as a platform to politicize, to rant, to blame and to kvetch about current affairs, the operative word here is “current.” The more you fixate on whatever is currently going on in the real world, the potentially shorter shelf-life you’re giving your material. (Of the projects I’m reading these days in my capacity as a script consultant, two-thirds of them are about COVID … and they all sound exactly the same.) Look at the plays which have stood the test of time (and especially Shakespeare). They have survived because they speak to timeless themes, not transitory events.

Catharsis may be good for the soul but it’s not always commercially viable. If you’re envisioning your play as a memoir-with-actors, it’s critical to consider whether you’re writing for an audience or just writing for yourself.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  My plays (and there are now 215 of them) can be found at Silver Birchington in the UK (https://www.silverbirchingtonplays.com), Pioneer Drama Service (https://www.pioneerdrama.com), PLAYS (https://www.playsmagazine.com), Stage Plays (www.stageplays.com), Brooklyn Publishers (https://www.brookpub.com), Heartland Plays (https://heartlandplays.com) and 365 Women a Year (https://365womenayear.wordpress.com). In addition, a number of my one-acts can be found on Amazon. Just Google my name. (And yes, Hamlett is my real surname.)

Want to try an online playwriting class and get one-on-one feedback? Looking for a professional script consultation? Have questions about playwriting resources or competitions? Feel free to contact me via my website at www.authorhamlett.com. Please note, however, that I do not open unsolicited manuscripts or other attachments, nor do I provide industry referrals for individuals I don’t know.


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