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

Jul 2, 2017

I Interview Playwrights Part 961: Stacie Lents

Stacie Lents

Hometown: I'm originally from St. Louis, MO, but I also lived in London (UK) for a bit as a kid.

Current Town: Manhattan (Harlem), though I teach in New Jersey (at Fairleigh Dickinson University).

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  I just finished a play, Run-On Sentence, which was a commission from Prison Performing Arts. It was one of the most revelatory and inspiring experiences of my life, never mind my playwriting career. PPA flew me to Missouri where I had the chance to spend time in the Women's Eastern Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center in Vandalia. I worked with and interviewed a group of twelve women felons and, although the play is fictional, it was inspired by their experiences. The women were some of the most generous collaborators I've ever worked with; they were particularly generous with the truth. Check out more info at http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/new-drama-unfolds-vandalia-womens-facility-thanks-expanded-prison-performing-arts#stream/0. I was also given developmental support for the play by Writers Theatre of New Jersey/New Jersey Women Playwrights Project and Fairleigh Dickinson University, where the play was workshopped with performances by a tremendous student cast and crew in April. The play will be performed through SATE Ensemble Theatre in St. Louis in 2018.

I also just finished a short play commission from Project Y Theatre as part of their WIT (Women in Theatre) Festival. http://www.projectytheatre.org/ 

For The Hrosvitha Project, four women playwrights were asked to adapt a play written by Hrosvitha, the first known woman playwright, writing in the middle ages. My play, BRIGHT PRESENCE, was part of that project. 
Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person. 

A:  In first grade, I dressed up as Juliet for Halloween. I was very excited about it. My mom and I even made a headpiece out of what I think was a yamacha and some tulle from a ballet skirt. I looked the part. All day long, people kept complimenting me on my "princess" costume. I was furious. I never trick-or-treated as a Shakespearean heroine again. Instead, I went as Brainy Smurf. Head to toe blue makeup. 

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

A:  I'd get more people to more theatre more often. I don't want to live in a world where people can't actually talk to each other "IRL." In this Twitter Age, it's important that we keep life LIVE. Theatre is an essential way of doing that. 
Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes? 

A:  Ohhhhh, let's see. Geraldine Page, August Wilson, José Quintero, Rebecca Gilman, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Rachel Chavkin, Carolyn Cantor, Bill Esper, Kevin Kittle, Theresa Rebeck, Uta Hagen, Richard Hopkins, many others...

Q:  What kind of theater excites you? 

A:  I like theatre (and television and film) which magnifies voices that might otherwise go unheard. I believe theatre can do some real heavy-lifting, particularly in today's social and political climate. We have to believe that every human being has a perspective worthy of being seen; theatre has a unique way of making that clear through the combination of comedy and drama and by showing rather than telling or lecturing. I would definitely say I appreciate comedy; whether it's a farce or a comedic moment in a dramatic piece, a sense of humor excites me. I think one of the most remarkable things about human beings is the way we are able to laugh about the experiences that are most painful...and I think nothing brings an audience together quite like laughter. 
Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out? 

A:  My best advice may sound obvious: be nice; say thank you; be kind to peers and colleagues in your field; compliment other people on work you admire; when you can't pay actors, find other ways to compensate them (free pizza always goes a long way); find ways to support other artists' work. "Networking" is something we talk about a lot in this industry and it's really important, but the more you can connect from a sincere place, the more the connections will pay off. After all, before "network" was a sexy verb, it was a noun, meaning a group of people intertwined by a spiderweb of interest--in this case, a net of plays and theatrical passion. I was recently talking to a gifted playwright, Mariah MacCarthy, who said that part of being successful as a playwright is "knowing your people." And she's right. Theatre is collaborative, so why shouldn't writers collaborate even before our work hits the stage.

Q:  When not writing on a computer, what's your go-to paper and writing utensil? 

A:   Maybe I shouldn't admit this, but I write wherever is handy. I have pieces of dialogue and portions of scenes in the backs of paperback novels I happened to be reading and on receipts and post-it notes I found at the bottom of my bag. Of course, now that I actually use the "notes" feature on my phone, I deface fewer bibliographies and end up with fewer weird stacks of tiny paper.
I prefer to write with pen, preferably roller ball (my husband got me hooked), but I'm not picky; I'll use pencil or sharpie, or even crayon if I'm really stuck.

Q:  When on computer, what's your font? 

A:  Arial Narrow, except when I'm using Final Draft, which I leave on its default setting (Courier Final Draft, I think).

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Check out my published plays at https://www.playscripts.com/find-a-play?keyword=stacie+lents

Watch out for the next iterations of Run-On Sentence.
For the next production, visit http://prisonartsstl.or/ or http://slightlyoff.org/ in 2018.



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