More Than Words on a Page
The first draft of my 60-page play for my playwriting course.
I love writing. It’s always come natural. Words, to me, feel like an extension of my mind, the same way that with photography, a camera is the extension of my eyes. Growing up, I would imagine stories constantly. Characters ran rampant in my brain and there was never a week without my sister and I talking about story ideas. Maybe my love for stories came from my mother being a children’s librarian or my love of reading. When I got into high school, I began to experiment. I wrote stories, poetry, and short comedic sketches, like those in SNL.
I never thought much about my writing, it was just something I enjoyed. When I entered college, however, I began to realize just how much I really enjoyed writing. Whether it was an academic essay or opinion piece, I loved to write. Of course, my primary passion has always been theater, but I only ever combined the two academically. I wrote in-depth research papers about Native American theater or about the stylistic points of French Neoclassical theater, but that was all. Transferring colleges, I was struck with an epiphany–I could write plays.
When I write scenes, it feels like an out-of-body experience. I’m no longer in a computer lab, surrounded by 50 students tapping away on keyboards; instead, I’m in my scene.
When I came to this realization, my desire was unstoppable. All I could think about were plays and playwriting. While I worked as part of the costume crew for the show, Picnic, I spent all of my free time backstage writing scenes. As scheduling came around for the spring semester, I leapt at the opportunity to take a playwriting class with my improvisation professor, Kathryn Petersen.
At first, I found a structured playwriting class to be daunting. What if everything I had taught myself was wrong? I never finished the stories I wrote; how would I be able to complete a 50-page play? Despite my self-doubt, I fell in love with this course. I couldn’t get enough of it. Each week we had a variety of assignments–recording strangers talking to transcribe into dialogue, reading plays, writing 5- and 10-page scenes, etc.
As we approached midterms, I was fairly confident in my skills as a playwright. The writing process is relatively consistent for me. I’ve heard that when we write, we let our subconscious take over, and that was exactly my experience. When I write scenes, it feels like an out-of-body experience. I’m no longer in a computer lab, surrounded by 50 students tapping away on keyboards; instead, I’m in my scene. Each character is a piece of me and I am just as present with them as they are with each other.
As I wrote the second half of my 50-, now 60-page play, I fell into that trance. I worked on that piece from 7 in the evening until 4 in the morning without even realizing it. I blinked, and just like that it was morning.
Now that I’ve started writing plays, I can’t go back. With a playwriting internship this summer for the new play development company, PlayPenn, in Philly and a handful of tools, I know this is just the beginning of my journey as a playwright.