I heard one of the best pieces of advice while I was in grad school. My playwriting professor was discussing the role of the playwright and stated (I'm paraphrasing a little), "While everyone in theatre is an artist, playwrights are the creative artists and our theatrical colleagues are interpretive artists." Let me pause here to clearly state this is not a diss in anyway shape or form to the fellow artistic collaborators who share their talents to create magic on stage. The statement was meant to inspire the playwrights in the room to own their inventive power and acknowledge their creative privilege.
By creative privilege, I mean that we playwrights are in charge of practicing our art. Playwrights are solely responsible for creating their work. Other artistic collaborators like actors and designers must wait until they are provided an opportunity. Once actors, directors, and designers are given a script or an ensemble then they can practice their art by interpreting the work on the page and transforming it on the stage.
Playwrights do not have to wait. The only permission we need is from ourselves to practice our art. As a result, we should use this privilege or freedom to assist our fellow artistic collaborators in flexing their interpretive muscles. After all, without them, our work dies on the page. Actors, designers, directors, dramaturges, stage managers, all of them give our work life. We owe it to them for breathing life into our words. So, we must create.
Easier said than done in 2020, right?
Venues are closed.
Bodies cannot touch.
We must remain at a six foot distance.
And, let's just face it, face masks and shields are the antithesis to voice projection and just look terrible with costumes.
How the fuck does anyone expect me to write and "be creative" when the very act of collaboration could mean putting my fellow collaborators in danger?
The answer: Do it for yourself. So, later we can make magic again.
In fact, as a playwright, you should always START with wanting to write for yourself. That is how you start from a place of truth. My truth during 2020 led me to Murder, We Spoke.
Here are a few things I am NOT:
I am NOT a podcaster.
I am NOT a radio broadcaster.
I am NOT a sound designer or engineer.
BUT...I LOVE this story. I LOVE these characters. And I want to see how far I can go. So, I am not waiting on a theatre company's endorsement or some big name organization's "buy-in" to show I am "worthy" to write this podcast series.
I am a creative artists and I am giving myself permission to write this podcast series
One of the best pieces of advice I can bestow upon new playwrights is to keep creating even if you think no one is watching. A mistake I often hear from playwrights at the beginning of their careers is they stop creating after one or two plays. They then spend years advocating for this one play. They refuse to move on and stop practicing their art until this one play gets published, produced, etc... Please do not do this. Do not push aside new ideas, observations, outlines, scribbles on paper because you MUST cling to this one play. Embrace those thoughts, put pen to paper, open the laptop, and get to writing the NEXT play. Even if no one is watching. Do it for your future collaborators, but must importantly, do it for yourself.
I have no clue how to construct a podcast, let along write a series for it. But, I'm not here to be an expert. I'm here because I have a story.
For more info on Murder, We Spoke and to listen to a rough edit recording of the pilot episode, click here