Introducing: 2015 ONSTAGE Playwright Anne Hamilton

We will be posting interviews with this year’s winning playwrights every day between now and our July 11th reading in Hollywood. Stay in touch and come back often to learn about these FABULOUS writers, and then join us at 2:00 on July 11th at the Samuel French Bookshop in Hollywood, CA (7623 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046).

Anne Hamilton at GPTC 2012Anne Hamilton is a playwright and dramaturg who sent us a delightful monologue last year called OFEM that just rocked the whole audience with laughter.  This year, she sent us a delightful short play called THE SHOEBOX about two women who haven’t been in touch in years, reconnecting unexpectedly over ice cream, potato chips, and some bad Catholic School memories.  The play is funny yet touching, and sure to move our audiences and I can’t wait to see it come to life!

LBDI:  Why did you decide to submit your work to this year’s ONSTAGE Project?

ANNE:  I had a wonderful experience last year when my comedy OFEM was chosen as a finalist. I enjoy participating in Little Black Dress’ peer evaluation process. Also, Tiffany Antone provided me with the opportunity to have my brand new play read on both coasts. I like the immediacy of this competition. I can write a play, submit it, and have it read in different locations, and also produced – all within a year of submitting.

LBDI:  Describe your writing space…

ANNE:  I move my writing space around the house. Currently I sit in a large, cushy pink armchair in the living room and place my computer on a glass table I inherited from a favorite aunt.

LBDI:  If you could be any literary character, who would you be?

ANNE:  I don’t think I would like to be a literary character unless I could write my own story.

LBDI:  What was your first play titled/about?

ANNE:  My first play was entitled ANOTHER WHITE SHIRT. It’s about how grief moves through the body and features four couples. One person has died from each couple, and the play features an Angel Ghost (female). Only the women speak in the play. The male (ghosts) dance, or have their lines appear as projections. I feel that grief is such a non-linear process that I needed to write in many methods of expressing it, including dance, puppets, projections, and music. When the audience enters the space, I want them to be surrounded by impressions, sound and changing light.

LBDI:  Which theatricians do you admire and what about them inspires you?

ANNE:  I admire Kathleen Chalfant for her fierce intelligence, humility and work ethic. I also admire Meryl Streep because I can watch her on film and somehow perceive what she’s thinking in certain scenes. Also – Michael Mayer, Anne Bogart, Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins, and Tony Kushner.

LBDI:  Why do you write for theatre?  (as opposed to other written mediums…)

ANNE:  I love the stage. I was a singer and actress for many years, and I love the behind-the-scenes process. I can be as imaginative as I want when writing plays, and I love to experiment with breaking form and audience-performer boundaries.

LBDI:  What message would you put in a fortune cookie?

ANNE:  “More life” – Tony Kushner

LBDI:  Morning, Noon, or Night?

ANNE:  Night.

More about Anne:

Anne Hamilton is a NYC-based freelance dramaturg and the Founder of Hamilton Dramaturgy, an international consultancy. She holds an MFA from Columbia University School of the Arts, and has worked with Andrei Serban, Michael Mayer, Lynn Nottage, NYMF, Niegel Smith, and Classic Stage Company. She created Hamilton Dramaturgy’s TheatreNow!, and her specialties include new play development, production dramaturgy, new musicals, career advising, advocacy, and oral histories. She was a Bogliasco Foundation Fellow. www.hamiltonlit.com

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Introducing: 2015 ONSTAGE Playwright Hannah K. Baker

We will be posting interviews with this year’s winning playwrights every day between now and our July 11th reading in Hollywood. Stay in touch and come back often to learn about these FABULOUS writers, and then join us at 2:00 on July 11th at the Samuel French Bookshop in Hollywood, CA (7623 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046).

HannahKBaker_ProfileHannah K. Baker’s short play FOR ANYONE WHO CARES will speak to anyone who has ever struggled to create something meaningful… and wound up instead staring at a blank page/canvas/computer screen for hours without a single worthwhile thought to show for it.  It’s a whimsical play about creativity, our desire to be heard/seen/remembered, and how futile the whole fight can be.  I can’t wait to see it come to life this weekend and again in August!

LBDI:  Why did you decide to submit your work to this year’s ONSTAGE Project?

HANNAH:  I like challenging myself to try new things and to step outside of my comfort zone. This competition afforded me the opportunity to do both of those things, so I committed to creating a piece to submit.

LBDI:  Describe your writing space…

HANNAH:  It changes. Sometimes I need to be in a smaller room so my ideas stay more contained and are easier to manage, and other times I need larger spaces with really high ceilings so my ideas can be bigger and have more room to move around.

LBDI:  If you could be any literary character, who would you be?

HANNAH:  I don’t know if I have a definitive answer, but Robin Hood seems like a good choice. I’d get to be a charming rapscallion who has a great time challenging “the man”, is a beloved philanthropist, and is extremely skillful with a bow and arrow.

LBDI:  What was your first play titled/about?

HANNAH:  My first play was written for and performed in my AP U.S. History class in high school. It was a short comedy titled The Scary Cherry (I don’t remember why) and it marked the norms and changes occurring in America in the 50’s. The Scary Cherry covering all topics from the rise of teenage culture, to the woes of house-wife life, to McCarthyism. In the final act, McCarthy had gone so crazy with hunting communists that he started accusing high-ups in the army and thus lost the favor of the court. In the very dramatic ending, McCarthy, having a nervous breakdown, sees himself in a mirror, thinks he is seeing another communist, and shoots himself with a water gun.

LBDI:  Which theatricians do you admire and what about them inspires you?

HANNAH:  I very much admire Mike Nichols’ directing career. I am developing as a writer/director for feature films and to see how Nichols adapted his craft for theatre and film, and how each one translated to and inspired the other, is fascinating and awesome. Neil Simon’s vast portfolio of works as a writer for both theatre and film is something I greatly revere. His ability to translate characters and comedy across mediums proves how well he commanded his craft. His comedies accessed all types of humor — a skill I hope to harness and hone myself. Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead was a direct inspiration for the tone and tempo of my short stage play. I love the playful volley of words between the two characters, who are seemingly oblivious of themselves, and who discuss hefty existential thoughts. He is a master of this smart, dry, quick humor and it is definitely something I want to emulate. Finally, I’ll mention Elaina Kate, a dear friend of mine who moved to New York to pursue her writing career. Her dedication, determination, and confidence in her craft are all so inspiring to me. She is a writer in the truest sense of the word and writes for theatre among many other mediums. Seeing everything she has accomplished for herself thus far pushes me to cross my own perceived boundaries and to believe that I can.

LBDI:  Why do you write for theatre? (as opposed to other written mediums…)

HANNAH:  As much as I love the theatre, I don’t have much practice writing for it. So, I’d have to say I write for theatre for the challenge of trying something new, for the change in style and focus, and for yet another perspective of storytelling.

LBDI:  What message would you put in a fortune cookie?

HANNAH:  If you want to, you can find meaning in anything.

LBDI:  Morning, Noon, or Night?

HANNAH:  I surprise myself. I don’t know if it’s the weather or what, but where I would have assumed I would say Night, I have to go with Morning.

More about Hannah:

Hannah K. Baker is an alumnus of Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts where she earned a BFA in Film Production with an emphasis in directing. She continues producing creative content such as working on John Legend’s music video “You and I” and the indie feature THE SUBMARINE KID, co-written and starring Finn Wittrock. She is a member of the Coronet Writers Lab, which has fostered such talent as Mickey Fisher, the creator of the network TV show EXTANT.

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Introducing: 2015 ONSTAGE Playwright Delia Whitehead

We will be posting interviews with this year’s winning playwrights every day between now and our July 11th reading in Hollywood. Stay in touch and come back often to learn about these FABULOUS writers, and then join us at 2:00 on July 11th at the Samuel French Bookshop in Hollywood, CA (7623 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046).

DeliaWhiteheadONSTAGE Playwright Delia Whitehead lives in my hometown of Prescott, AZ, which makes me happy!  The ONSTAGE Fest began there, with the first year’s playwrights consisting of fabulous female playwrights I knew in LA and Prescott – it was an experiment in support, and I wasn’t sure if it would take flight (thank goodness it has!) and so I can’t help but feel a little thrill at knowing that another Prescott playwright is playing a part in making this year’s festival the best it can be :-)  Delia’s play, GREEN DOG, creatively tells  the story of a woman who tries a little too hard to do everything right and in the process, loses out of much of her own happiness.  I can’t wait to see it this weekend!

LBDI:  Why did you decide to submit your work to this year’s ONSTAGE Project?

DELIA:  I love what this festival offers for writers, actors, directors, and the audience.  It’s an all-around cool thing.

LBDI:  Describe your writing space…

DELIA:  Mostly inside my head (cluttered).  I spend a lot of time there before I get to the computer.  My office is on the north side of my home, with yellow walls and a beautiful view of the northern Arizona forest.  I confess to a chronically messy desk.

LBDI:  If you could be any literary character, who would you be?

DELIA:  I’ve thought about this a lot, for days in fact.  No one character jumped out as someone I wanted to be, so I suppose it’s good news that, in the end, I don’t want to be anybody but me. The characters I auditioned ranged from Howard Roark, Sherlock Holmes, Gandolf, Merlin, and the Chink, to Karen Blixen (who is not really fictional), Nancy Drew, and Charlotte, from Charlotte’s Web, because she was one of the wisest, most compassionate characters I remember.  I also wanted to be Ruby, or at least sail like she does, from Jim Lynch’s upcoming novel, Before the Wind, but that’s not out yet, so in order to meet Ruby, you’ll have to look for it in April, 2016.

LBDI:  What was your first play titled/about?

DELIA:  To be honest, I don’t remember my first play.  It was probably silly and self-indulgent, with sexual undertones.  The first play I wrote that I actually remember was called The Light Way Way, about a woman trying to convince a couple (the wife was gung-ho, the husband was freaked out) to join a network marketing company that sold enlightenment – by using their spray product, one became Enlightened and Blissfully One With It All.

LBDI:  Which theatricians do you admire and what about them inspires you?

DELIA:  I admire anyone with the courage to work hard to make something good, then keep working to make it better, and then get up in front of people and be vulnerable and willing to look silly in the interest of stirring the emotional pot of a society often out of touch with their feelings.  I particularly admire the work that goes on in Ashland, Oregon at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, especially in the days when Libby Appel was artistic director.

LBDI:  Why do you write for theatre?  (as opposed to other written mediums…)

DELIA:  It’s challenging to write well for theater, but I like the 3-D nature of it; I like watching my work pop up into live characters.  I also enjoy the collaborative, team-work nature of theater.

LBDI:  What message would you put in a fortune cookie?

DELIA:  Well, the fortune cookies I’ve seen lately are hardly fortunes, they’re merely lame sayings.

Tick-tock.

Is that too esoteric?  Do you get that I mean time is short so be here now, do it now, love it NOW?  I’m not sure it’s clear.  But that’s what I mean.  Tick-tock.

LBDI:  Morning, Noon, or Night?

DELIA:  It depends on the phase of my moon.  Sometimes morning, sometimes night.  Never noon.

More about Delia:

Delia Whitehead has been an actor, director, and writer for over twenty years. She’s had the great good fortune to play many plum roles in many venues in Prescott, Arizona, and at Canyon Moon Theater in Sedona, Arizona.  Her plays have been produced in Prescott, and include Undercurrents, The Key, and an adaptation of O’Henry’s Ransom of Red Chief.   She took some time away from the stage and her pen to give full attention to her private practice doing Brain Integration Technique. Now she has finally come to her senses and realized that she’s not fully human unless she’s creating.

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Introducing: 2015 ONSTAGE Playwright Sharon Goldner

We will be posting interviews with this year’s winning playwrights every day between now and our July 11th reading in Hollywood. Stay in touch and come back often to learn about these FABULOUS writers, and then join us at 2:00 on July 11th at the Samuel French Bookshop in Hollywood, CA (7623 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046).

Sharon GoldnerLast year Sharon Goldner sent us a hilarious short play about sperm. This year, we’re producing her hilarious play about a woman and her vagina.  To say that Sharon has tuned in to what is apparently my personal preference for “body” humor is an understatement.  Of course, she writes lots of other things too – her short play The Costume was also a semi-finalist this year.  Basically, people should know about this enthusiastic and talented writer who continues to make us laugh and think and cheer!

LBDI:  Why did you decide to submit your work to this year’s ONSTAGE Project?

SHARON:  I submitted to this year’s Onstage Project because I am a repeat customer; that is, my play Little Swimmers, was in last year’s line-up.  Little Black Dress INK loves & appreciates its playwrights. It is a class act all the way.

LBDI:  Describe your writing space…

SHARON:  My writing space … hmm. I mull a lot. Ideas are all over the place in my brain. At some point my brain tells me that this mulling thing I’ve got going is suspiciously crossing the line into procrastination, & I know it is time to go to my favorite couch, wrap myself in my favorite blanket (Baltimore Ravens blanket; sorry fans of other teams), take pen & paper in hand, and let my brain I.V. drip every line of dialogue down to my arm and through my pen in hand, and onto the paper. Miraculously, a first draft is born!

LBDI:  If you could be any literary character, who would you be?

SHARON:  If I could be any literary character I would have to be Scout, from To Kill A Mockingbird; Curious George on days when I don’t shave my legs.

LBDI:  What was your first play titled/about?

SHARON:  I wrote my first play when I was maybe nine or ten years old, and it was an adaptation of a Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale. I do not remember which one. I hand-wrote it on looseleaf paper, and bound it with yarn. This process was repeated until I had enough scripts to give out to the kids in the neighborhood. It turned out that everyone had a part (I was such an altruistic child!) so there was no one left to be in the audience.

LBDI:  Which theatricians do you admire and what about them inspires you?

SHARON:  The theatrician I most admire is Tiffany Antone. Seriously. She is just about the coolest theater chick in the universe, & I am proud to be the founding member, and president, of her fan club. I have never met a theater professional as giving, caring, &
beautiful as this incredibly talented lady.

LBDI:  Why do you write for theatre? (as opposed to other written mediums…)

SHARON:  I write for theater because I enjoy putting words in other people’s mouths. And, I think it is the purest medium around. And hearing the audience’s laughter fulfills me so.

LBDI:  What message would you put in a fortune cookie?

SHARON:  The message I would put in a fortune cookie would be: Help! They are making me work in a fortune cookie factory & my fingers are numb from sticking tiny slips of paper into tiny slits in cookies.

LBDI:  Morning, Noon, or Night?

SHARON:  Why, night is the best time, of course. That’s when all the monsters come out to play.

More about Sharon:

Sharon Goldner is in love with the alphabet.  She learned early on that she has a knack for manipulating the alphabet into doing whatever she wants, like making phrases, sentences, and dialogue.  This made no sense to a variety of gym teachers  Sharon had through the years;  all they wanted her to do was climb a rope. The funny thing?  Upon graduating college, no prospective employers ever asked if she could climb a rope.  Anyway, Sharon took her love for manipulating the alphabet and turned it into plays.  Nineteen theaters from Off Broadway to California (and all in-between) have proven to Sharon that the whole rope climbing business doesn’t matter because thus far, there have been 28 productions of her work;  publications of her plays; awards; and one fellowship in Canada, where Sharon was one of only three playwrights chosen for the honor, world-wide. So right about now Sharon wants to say, “Take that, gym teachers!”  But she’s too nice to say it, so she’ll just think it.

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Introducing: 2015 ONSTAGE Playwright Jaisey Bates

We will be posting interviews with this year’s winning playwrights every day between now and our July 11th reading in Hollywood. Stay in touch and come back often to learn about these FABULOUS writers, and then join us at 2:00 on July 11th at the Samuel French Bookshop in Hollywood, CA (7623 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046).

Jaisey BatesEvery once in a while, you meet a new playwright whose enthusiasm and positivity is just contagious!  The kind of playwright who makes you feel like all the blood, sweat, and tears is totally worth it because she just gets what you’re trying to do and is so damn positive about it that you forget what a pain in the ass it can be to birth a project like this every year.  Jaisey is that kind of playwright.  Not only did she submit some fabulous pieces for consideration this year, but she’s also been a huge cheerleader for the fest and the other playwrights, and that kind of makes us love her even more.  Her short play MY HEART & I is such a lovely addition to the festival, and it connects with us every time we hear it!

LBDI:  Why did you decide to submit your work to this year’s ONSTAGE Project?

JAISEY:  I honestly can’t recall where I learned of LBDInk. Maybe Dave Bern’s playsubmissionshelper.com? I am a Troll(er) of Internet Play Submission Opportunities.

LBDI:  Describe your writing space…

JAISEY:  Have Words Will Travel. Actually, I can’t seem to write with pen and page anymore. Which is wrong. So so so wrong. [Note to Self: Those zillion empty journals? Trees PERISHED for the pretty white paper in those journals….] So I guess I ought to say Have Laptop Will Travel. I like people. And the ocean. So I tend to frequent cafes and public spaces with people which are on or near the ocean. So I can watch people. Or put my words in a bag and walk down to the sea. And watch the water. And the surfers. And the Santa Monica Ferris Wheel. O. How I heart that Ferris Wheel, ferris wheeling off in the distance.

LBDI:  If you could be any literary character, who would you be?

JAISEY:  So. Many. Characters. Across nations and languages and ages and backgrounds. And not only all the characters who speak to me from stories I write, but their voices seem to be the loudest. I am very curious why they chose me to tell their stories. I mean, don’t they comparative shop at all? My stories are different and definitely ‘challenged’ in finding homes. So it’s kinda surprising that they chose me. But maybe it’s because they don’t know they’re homeless. The characters and words. Since I tell them they’re nomadic. But in all honestly, it is so strange, how they speak to me, and how I walk this world so many times through them. Their words. There’s this bit of dialogue that is echoing so fiercely of late, from a spec script for a tv show I wrote:
“I just wanted it to mean something.”
“What?”
“My life.”

LBDI:  What was your first play titled/about?

JAISEY:  I honestly don’t remember not writing. There was a story about a dog who went on lots of adventures, when I was in 2nd grade or so. I think the dog’s name was Toby. I think it was called Toby’s Great Adventures.

LBDI:  Which theatricians do you admire and what about them inspires you?

JAISEY:  So. Many. People. Including Tiffany Antone, The Great. AKA That Woman Who Creates Amazing Opportunities For Women and Their Words.

LBDI:  Why do you write for theatre? (as opposed to other written mediums…)

JAISEY:  I love, as a writer and actress, that space. That gathering of words in space and time and that sharing and creation of a story with an audience of strangers but through the journey together you become something more. Than strangers. Because you’ve created something unique and non-repeatable together. That you and they will carry forward into the time we walk this ground, together. There’s something about that sacred space. Where you can travel through time and space and story as someone else, making other decisions, living a different path. Because it makes us understand just a little bit more what it means to be human.

LBDI:  What message would you put in a fortune cookie?

JAISEY:  You Are So Beautiful.

LBDI:  Morning, Noon, or Night?

JAISEY:  Aiming towards someday being able to say Morning because I love how my mother wakes on her farm at 5am every day. Without an alarm. And I think that’s kind of amazing and awesome. But, for now, Night.

More about Jaisey:

Jaisey Bates seeks to create stories that transcend cultural lines and speak at their heart to what it means to be human. She started writing for the stage while attending Circle in the Square and performing in NYC theaters. She hopes to engage audiences in nontraditional story experiences which help remind us of how much we share in common, underneath our’social skins’. Jaisey writes and performs her work with her multicultural, nomadic (a.k.a.’homeless’) theater company, The Peoplehood (the-peoplehood.com). LA and NYC performance venues for her words have included the Agüeybaná Book Store, Art/Works, Eclectic, Lounge, Naked Angels, Native Voices at the Autry, Open Fist, Performance Loft, Playwrights’ Center Stage, Studio/Stage, Unknown and Victory theaters.

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Introducing: 2015 ONSTAGE Playwright Bridgette Dutta Portman

We will be posting interviews with this year’s winning playwrights every day between now and our July 11th reading in Hollywood. Stay in touch and come back often to learn about these FABULOUS writers, and then join us at 2:00 on July 11th at the Samuel French Bookshop in Hollywood, CA (7623 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046).

Bridgette Dutta PortmanBridgette Dutta Portman’s PYTHAGOREAN TRIPLETS is such a perfect fit for this year’s theme, it’s almost criminal.  What a fun, creative, wacky little piece – and we love it!  The play, which asks what happens to the three lines of a triangle when one of them wants to leave, had us giggling from the get go and we can’t wait to see it onstage!

LBDI:  Why did you decide to submit your work to this year’s ONSTAGE Project?

BRIDGETTE:  The theme “outside the lines” intrigued me. There are so many ways to interpret it, from metaphorical to quite literal. I had previously written a short sketch about three line segments, one of whom becomes restless and wants to escape her geometrically-assigned lot, and I immediately thought that, with some expansion and revision, it could be a perfect fit.

LBDI:  Describe your writing space…

BRIDGETTE:  I don’t really have a designated writing space at the moment. Right now, I’m at my kitchen table. Other times I write at coffee shops. I usually find it easier to write outside the house, as I have a baby at home who likes to pull the keys off my laptop.

LBDI:  If you could be any literary character, who would you be?

BRIDGETTE:  Great question. My favorite literary character is Captain Ahab from Moby Dick, but I don’t know that I’d want to BE him. He’s pretty miserable most of the time. Grand, but miserable. Same thing with Hamlet, whom I also love. In fact, most of my favorite characters lead pretty unhappy lives. So I guess I’d want to be someone who has a happy ending. Maybe Ishmael; he gets to take part in all the adventures, but he survives.

LBDI:  What was your first play titled/about?

BRIDGETTE:  The first play I ever tried to write was called “The Oracle Consulter” and was about Astyanax, the son of Hector and Andromache of Troy. He’s the little baby whom the Greeks threw off the wall, to keep him from growing up and coming back for revenge, but in my play he survives and does just that. The first version of this was pretty awful, but I later revised it and it became part of the 2013 San Francisco Olympians Festival, an annual series of staged readings of plays inspired by Greek mythology.

LBDI:  Which theatricians do you admire and what about them inspires you?

BRIDGETTE:  My favorite playwrights and the biggest influences on me as a writer have been the classical Greek dramatists and Shakespeare. I am inspired by their use of meter, rhythm and verse to craft plays that are beautiful to listen to as well as engaging to watch. Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt and Oscar Wilde’s Salome are among my favorite plays for the same reason. I’ve attempted to write several plays in verse myself, and although I find it challenging, there’s something immensely satisfying about the process when it’s working and the words begin to flow. Verse plays are uncommon now, but I have great admiration for modern writers who incorporate poetry into their language or classical styles and themes into their work. Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice is a good example.

LBDI:  Why do you write for theatre? (as opposed to other written mediums…)

BRIDGETTE:  I like the collaborative nature of writing for theatre — I can write a script, but a production can’t come together without the actors, director, set designers, and crew. That sometimes makes writing for theatre more complicated than, say, writing short stories or a novel, because you have to be prepared to give up some creative control, but it often leads to new ideas and interpretations and generates a sense of community. I have found such a supportive and encouraging community of fellow playwrights, as well as actors, directors and other theatre artists, here in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the country, and I love being a part of it.

LBDI:  What message would you put in a fortune cookie?

BRIDGETTE:  “Bad luck and extreme misfortune will infest your pathetic soul for all eternity.” I stole that from Rocko’s Modern Life. I always thought it was the coolest fortune.

LBDI:  Morning, Noon, or Night?

BRIDGETTE:  Night. For sure.

More about Bridgette:

Bridgette Dutta Portman is a playwright based in Fremont, CA. Her plays have been read and produced in the San Francisco Bay Area, across the country, and overseas. She is currently president of the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco, an associate artist at Wily West Productions, and a founding member of a new theatre group, Ex Nihilo Theater. She is also a member of the Pear Writers’ Guild and is on the literary committee of City Lights Theater Company. Her full-length comedy LA FEE VERTE will be read at Paper Wing Theatre in Monterey, CA on July 19, and a drama on which she collaborated, ZERO HOUR: THE MARS EXPERIMENT, opens July 17 in San Francisco with Wily West Productions. She particularly enjoys writing silly, absurdist comedies, dramas that deal with psychological and existential issues, and scripts that play with language or involve classical structure and themes. You can learn more about Bridgette and her plays at http://www.bridgetteduttaportman.com.

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Introducing: 2015 ONSTAGE Playwright Jen Huszcza

We will be posting interviews with this year’s winning playwrights every day between now and our July 11th reading in Hollywood. Stay in touch and come back often to learn about these FABULOUS writers, and then join us at 2:00 on July 11th at the Samuel French Bookshop in Hollywood, CA (7623 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046).

Jen2There’s just something about Jen Huszcza.  This is LBDI’s 4th year producing the ONSTAGE Festival, and we’ve included a Jen Huszcza piece every year!  Jen’s plays are unique, streamlined, and inhabit the hyper-real.  This year’s piece, THIS, is a moving monologue that grabbed us with the first sentence.

LBDI:  Why did you decide to submit your work to this year’s ONSTAGE Project?

JEN:  I like the theme, Outside the Lines, and Tiffany is awesome.

LBDI: Describe your writing space…

JEN: I write in a variety of spaces. I was outside of the United States when I wrote the majority of “This”. As I was going, I kept reading it over and over again aloud to myself. I hope my American accent did not offend the neighbors.

LBDI: If you could be any literary character, who would you be?

JEN: I can only be myself and not a character. Still, if I was to choose, I would say it has to be a modern character because I like indoor plumbing.

LBDI: What was your first play titled/about?

JEN: Viper about the ruler of universe and his tragic love for a woman.

LBDI: Which theatricians do you admire and what about them inspires you?

JEN: Beckett, Fornes, Foreman. Minimalism, humanity, innovation.

LBDI: Why do you write for theatre? (as opposed to other written mediums…)

JEN: I ask myself that question every time I write a play. I don’t write for theatre. I write a play. I do work in other mediums.

LBDI: What message would you put in a fortune cookie?

JEN: Joy (in bed).

LBDI: Morning, Noon, or Night?

JEN: I wake up with the sun, I must wear sunscreen in the sun, I go to sleep after the sun goes down.

More about Jen:

Jen Huszcza is a playwright currently based in Los Angeles.  Three of Jen’s plays (Rinse, POP, and Flowers) were performed in Little Black Dress INK’s first three festivals. Her short play, It Has to End in Tears, was produced by Greenlight Productions in Santa Monica in March 2015. Four of her plays have been presented as staged readings in the Monday Night Living Room Series at The Blank Theatre in Hollywood.  She wrote and acted in Gunfighter Nation’s collectively written piece, LA History Project: Pio Pico, Sam Yorty, and the Secret Procession of Los Angeles, presented at the Lost Studio in 2010.  She has guest-blogged for the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative. BFA in Dramatic Writing and MFA in Musical Theatre Writing both from NYU.

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Introducing: 2015 ONSTAGE Playwright Kira Rockwell

We will be posting interviews with this year’s winning playwrights every day between now and our July 11th reading in Hollywood.  Stay in touch and come back often to learn about these FABULOUS writers, and then join us at 2:00 on July 11th at the Samuel French Bookshop in Hollywood, CA (7623 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046).

Kira RockwellKira Rockwell and I met for coffee a few months ago when the burgeoning young playwright reached out wanting to know more about how to tackle this crazy career she’d chosen for herself.  I was immediately struck by her enthusiasm and spirit, as well as her tenacity.  When I told her about our festival, I never imagined the young woman would deliver one of the most poignant and distinct pieces I’ve seen in all four years of the fest!  What a delight to be able to bring her play, WITH MY EYES SHUT, to so many locations!  The play, centered on two young autistic teens, takes place in five sweet but powerful scenes, and I can’t wait to see the play this August.

LBDI:  Why did you decide to submit your work to this year’s ONSTAGE Project?

KIRA:  I had heard about Tiffany Antone and her mission with Little Black Dress INK from a number of people, all encouraging me to check it out. When I had finally sought it out myself, I immediately aligned with LBD’s mission statement and purpose. I was so in awe of it’s core foundations in community and it’s initiative for female playwrights. The prompt was, “outside the lines,” and the brainstorming began. From the beginning, I knew this was an opportunity I could not pass by, LBD is rare gem in the world of theatre, especially for female playwrights, and I am so thankful to have been a part of this journey.

LBDI:  Describe your writing space…

KIRA:  I don’t have one, lol. Or at least a consistent one. I enjoy changing it up constantly. I get bored of regularity and liked to feed off new and different environments. I love having noise and commotion and people all around me to pull from for my work. There are 6 coffee shops, all in a 5 mile radius of me, that I like to popcorn through. Sometimes it’s based on where I want to have lunch. I even did a Taco Bueno once because I’m obsessed with their bean burritos. From time to time, I do enjoy making a space at home, especially if I know it’s going to be long, late night hours. If I’m at home, you’ll find me sprawled out on the floor, typing away, blasting the newest Pandora station I’ve created. In college, when I really began to take my writing seriously, I didn’t own a computer. I had to rent laptops/use desktop computers inside the school’s library to complete my writing projects. I also wasn’t able to afford Final Draft yet so I created all my scripts with a word document via Google Docs. PRAISE GOOGLE DOCS Y’ALL! My senior year of college, I finally had enough for a beautiful Macbook &&& Final Draft software! I think my years of fighting to find somewhere and something to write on to get all the voices up in there out, instilled this vagabond spirit within me to write wherever and whenever.

LBDI:  If you could be any literary character, who would you be?

KIRA:  I would be Camae from Katori Hall’s, “The Mountain Top.” And I would embody all her (SPOILER) supernatural powers & impressive rap skills & sass.

LBDI:  What was your first play titled/about?

KIRA:  Hahahhaha, it was a first grade writing project that I still have today. It makes me laugh so hard when I see it. It’s called, “My Teacher is a Witch.” With my actual 1st grade teacher as the leading character, it is about a young girl, me, who discovers her teacher is a witch one day after school and her mission is to stop her teacher from eating all the students. In the end, she loses, a clan of witches come to take the entire class, but don’t worry, they’re “mommy witches” so they’re nice… I’m baffled that she didn’t set up a parent teacher meeting after seeing the story. Honestly, I think I was just bitter that Ms. T had given me a zero for cheating on my spelling test that year.

LBDI:  Which theatricians do you admire and what about them inspires you?

KIRA:  Oh man, current contemporaries would be Katori Hall, Braden Jacobs-Jenkins and Sarah Ruhl.  Classics would be Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams and August Wilson.  For me, each one of them have reoccurring characteristics that I admire, which is an incredible ear and sensitivity to people and the characters they create. It illuminates their pieces of work with such a bright light of authenticity. They write beautifully raw, compelling and theatrical pieces that resonate so powerfully with people. I love it because it feels so selfless. Their work feels so sacrificial as if it is an offering to the audience to consume and transform. It’s a very soulful experience.

LBDI:  Why do you write for theatre? (as opposed to other written mediums…)

KIRA:  Because it’s a living, breathing art form that is meant to be experienced. It’s not a game of deception or manipulation, nor is it intended to be a solo venture. It is raw, for community and produced by community.

LBDI:  What message would you put in a fortune cookie?

KIRA:  You might wake up on time tomorrow, you might not. Either way, don’t sweat it.

LBDI:  Morning, Noon, or Night?

KIRA:  Night, always.

More about Kira:

Kira Rockwell is a playwright from Dallas, Texas. She is a recent graduate of Baylor University where she received her BFA in Theatre Performance and a minor in Film & Digital Media. This March, her play Nomad Americana premiered at WaterTower theatre’s Out of the Loop Fringe Festival. In 2014, Kira established a writing group called the Waco Writer’s Collective for fellow emerging writers in her community. As a teaching artist, Kira directs and leads a theatre program for at risk urban youth at the Methodist Children’s Home. Currently, she is developing a full length play set in the near future of a dystopian America called, BirthRight, and resides with her husband in Waco, Texas. This will be her first time working with Little Black Dress Ink’s festival and she is over the moon with excitement to be working with this outstanding company and other fabulous ladies from around the nation! #femaleplaywrightrock

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Introducing: 2015 ONSTAGE Playwright Beth Kander

We will be posting interviews with this year’s winning playwrights every day between now and our July 11th reading in Hollywood. Stay in touch and come back often to learn about these FABULOUS writers, and then join us at 2:00 on July 11th at the Samuel French Bookshop in Hollywood, CA (7623 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046).

Beth KanderBeth Kander sent us a delightful little piece about the fleetingness of life titled EPHEMERA that tugged at our heartstrings in a totally unexpected way.  It’s about a cat (but not really) and about hope (really) and about those weird people you meet at the bus stop.   And we love it!

LBDI:  Why did you decide to submit your work to this year’s ONSTAGE Project?

BETH: My worldly friend Don sent me a link to the Little Black Ink page and the ONSTAGE opportunity, saying “I think you should submit something here.” I read through the website, the philosophy, the ideas, and thought: “Y’know what? Don’s right.”

LBDI:  Describe your writing space…

BETH: Ideally, my writing space is a corner in an almost-empty coffee shop, my computer in front of me, a warm mug beside it, hours to write and create. That’s sometimes the reality– but my writing space is also sometimes my desk at home, against a window, pets at my feet and dishes being ignored; sometimes it’s at airports between flights, sitting on the floor, wherever I can find an outlet; sometimes it’s on my phone while riding the train, thumb-typing out notes to capture ideas before they escape. A writer has to be able to write anywhere. But the ideal sure is nice, when it works out.

LBDI:  If you could be any literary character, who would you be?

BETH: That’s a toughie, because most of my favorite literary characters don’t exactly have situations I’d want to be in (hello, Katniss Everdeen). So I might not want to be my favorite literary character, so much as I’d like to be a happy, fulfilled, creative, interesting but not-too-traumatized literary character. With that in mind, let’s go with … Jo March, maybe? Yes. The more I think about it, yes. Absolutely. Jo March.

LBDI:  What was your first play titled/about?

BETH: I wrote my first play when I was fourteen. It was called “Through Rachel’s Eyes” and it was about a young girl’s friendship with an elderly blind neighbor named Rachel. The best thing about the script was Rachel’s elderly gang of poker buddies (all women). When the show was produced, when I was about 15, I played one of the geriatric poker ladies. I wore a hot pink track suit and it was awesome.

LBDI:  Which theatricians do you admire and what about them inspires you?

BETH: Theatrician – what a great word! Sarah Ruhl is a playwright-hero of mine because she seems to have it all– a happy home life, a successful writing career, a Genius grant, interesting ideas. I also love Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and count them as theatricians since they got their start in improv and still support theatrical work. Aaron Sorkin’s scripting is great. I have far too many amazing actor, director, designer, and other theater-genius friends in real life to pick just one :)

LBDI:  Why do you write for theatre? (as opposed to other written mediums…)

BETH: I’m a playwright because that role marries two of my loves, writing and theater. Everything I love about theater is infused in playwriting: it’s a collaborative art form. Even though writing can be solitary, when you’re writing a script, you know that it will never find its full potential until you place it in the hands of other artists. Scripts need directors, actors, designers, stage managers, dramaturgs, audiences. I love writing plays and knowing that they will continue to evolve and find new life each time more artists touch them.

LBDI:  What message would you put in a fortune cookie?

BETH: “Uh oh! This is a disappointing fortune! You should probably have a second cookie.”

LBDI:  Morning, Noon, or Night?

BETH: Noon. On weekends. So I can have brunch.

More About Beth:

BETH KANDER is a creative artist with one foot in the South and the other in the Midwest. Selected playwriting honors and awards: Downstage Left Playwright Residency, Stage Left—Chicago, 2014-2015; Charles M. Getchell New Play Award, SETC (2012); Eudora Welty New Play Awards (2013, 2010, 2008); Theatre Oxford Audience Award (2012); Mississippi Theatre Association New Play Award (2009). Kander has scripts represented by Steele Spring Stage Rights and Chicago Dramaworks. In addition to playwriting, Kander authors fiction, including the novel “Was” and the children’s book “Glubbery Gray: The Knight-Eating Beast” (Pelican Publishing). She holds degrees from Brandeis University and the University of Michigan, and has studied at Second City Training Center and New Stage Theatre. She lives with her husband and a small collection of rescue pets, some of them famous. www.bethkander.com

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Introducing: 2015 ONSTAGE Playwright, Celine Song

We will be posting interviews with this year’s winning playwrights every day between now and our July 11th reading in Hollywood.  Stay in touch and come back often to learn about these FABULOUS writers, and then join us at 2:00 on July 11th at the Samuel French Bookshop in Hollywood, CA (7623 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046).

Celine Song headshotI can’t wait to see what else Celine Song has up her sleeves.  Celine sent us a delightfully twisted monologue called THE FEAST, which not only scored super high with her peers, but with basically everyone else who has read it or heard it along the way.  I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that the play might leave you a little… hungry.

LBDI: Why did you decide to submit your work to this year’s ONSTAGE Project?

CELINE: Tiffany told us about the opportunity at Great Plains Theatre Conference.

LBDI: Describe your writing space…

CELINE: I don’t have any specific writing space, because I don’t like to get superstitious about where I write. But it’s just on my laptop, with a thousand other tabs open on Safari, usually with a TV show running in the background next to my document and my sister playing video games next to me on the couch.

LBDI: If you could be any literary character, who would you be?

CELINE: I want a happy and peaceful ending for myself, so I think I want to be Larry Darrell in Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge.

LBDI: What was your first play titled/about?

CELINE: A one act called Sound Utterly Serious! It was a very serious play about technology and mortality, where I used the found text from one of the first iPhone tutorials ever made by Apple.

LBDI: Which theatricians do you admire and what about them inspires you?

CELINE: Bertolt Brecht’s epicness, Kuro Tanino’s sick sense of humor, Caryl Churchill’s discipline, Wallace Shawn’s militant sense of purpose, Chuck Mee’s joie de vivre.

LBDI: Why do you write for theatre? (as opposed to other written mediums…)

CELINE: Honestly, because I love doing it.

LBDI: What message would you put in a fortune cookie?

CELINE: “Capitalism Works For Me! True/False”

LBDI: Morning, Noon, or Night?

CELINE: Night

More About Celine:

Celine Song is a 2014-2015 Ars Nova Play Group member, a 2012 Edward F. Albee Foundation Writing Fellow, a 2014 Great Plains Theatre Conference Playlab Playwright, a 2014 resident at Yaddo, and a IATI Theater’s 2015 Cimientos Playwright. Her plays include The Feast, Family, and Tom & Eliza. MFA: Columbia

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