I call myself a playwright because I wrote a play that had a full production at The University of Kansas and went on to have performances at a regional festival and was a finalist for a national playwriting award. I have since written numerous 10 minute, one act, and full length plays but my experience with An Army of One solidified in my mind the notion that I am, and always will be, a playwright.
As a result of that experience I chose to pursue a career in the arts. I have been immensely fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing and talented people in the world of new play development at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. I’ve spent two and a half years working in a sales and business development capacity for that organization and it has been one of the greatest pleasures of my adult life to witness the complete development process of new plays from page to stage in a company that prides itself on taking chances.
While at Woolly I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the biggest names in new play development. Tony award winning playwrights, directors, and actors come and go through this austere and magical place as though it were commonplace. After you’ve worked around amazingly talented people doing ground breaking work for a few years it’s easy to take it all for granted. I don’t have that problem. The magic hasn’t worn off yet and and I don’t imagine that it ever will.
I’ve learned a lot by working at Woolly and in my own experience as a playwright. I know that no one person can produce a show by themselves; it takes a ton of people to make live theater possible. It starts with having friends you can trust to provide you with honest feedback during the writing process. It takes a theater organization that is willing to take chances on original scripts. It takes a director who is willing to work with writers and collaborate on taking a new work from page to stage. It takes courageous actors who are willing to bring a character to life for the first time. And it absolutely takes an entire staff of stage hands, prop designers, lighting designers and operators, stage managers, sound designers, costume designers, development staff, marketing teams, sales people, box office staff and a slew of other people you don’t ever think about to promote and schedule a show. The list goes on and on.
Play writing is an insular process that, when things go right, results in a collaborative effort to get a script onto the stage. It is an amazing thing to behold and as a playwright it changes your perspective on theater. The first time you see your words spoken by a cast of talented actors performing in a space created specifically to present your work in front of an audience… it is a magical experience that changes your life forever.
I’m very fortunate that I’ve gotten to experience that process more than once. I’m very fortunate that I’ve gotten to work in the arts and come to fully understand the intricate dance of all the people it takes to make live theatre possible. As I said… I’m very lucky.