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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...

Nov 8, 2018

I Interview Playwrights Part 1016: Tyler English-Beckwith

Tyler English-Beckwith

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Current Town: Brooklyn, NY

Q:  What are you working on now? 

A:  Currently working on the first draft of a new play called Young Mammy, and working on a project with Meow Wolf out of Santa Fe, NM.

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

A:  At my pre-school graduation, I was allowed to walk across the stage to celebrate my matriculation from the 3 year old class into the 4 year old class. I got my certificate and sat back down, but then I saw that the 5 year olds who were going to kindergarten got to give one-line speeches. I left my mother's side and demanded that the microphone be passed to me. I gave a speech that was much longer than the other speeches that were actually on the program. Then I bowed and got a standing ovation. When my mom tells the story she says that it was all gibberish, but I was very intentional with what I had to say. It was urgent to me. Whatever I said needed to be said immediately. In front of an audience.

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

A:  Critics should be practitioners.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Since she passed, I've been thinking about Ntozake Shange every day and the ways that she sacrificed her body. Also Karen Cogdill, Elly Lindsay, and Vickie Washington, my former teachers from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. They laid the foundation for everything I've learned.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Theater that tells a truth you know but are afraid to speak out loud.

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

A:  I always think of this Octavia Butler nugget of truth. "First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you're inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won't.  Habit is persistence in practice.

Q:  Plugs, please

A:  I can be found on New Play Exchange.

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