Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Girl Wrote It: Bekah Brunstetter, Playwright

Bekah Brunstetter’s plays include A Long and Happy Life (upcoming, Naked Angels), Be a Good Little Widow (Ars Nova, Spring 2011), House of Home (Williamstown Theater Festival), Oohrah! (Atlantic Theater, 2009), and Miss Lilly Gets Boned (Finborough Theater 2010, Lark Playwrights Week 2009, Finborough Theater, June 2010). She is a a New York New Voices Fellow through the Lark Play Development Center, member of The Primary Stages Writer’s Group, the Naked Radio writing team. She is an alumni of the Women's Project Playwrights Lab, the Ars Nova Play Group, and the Playwright's Realm.  She is the 2011 Playwright in Residence at the Finborough Theater, London. She is currently working on an EST Sloan commission. BA UNC Chapel Hill; MFA in Dramatic Writing from the New School for Drama. 
  • Your one-act, Yes, will be performed as a part of our upcoming production of A Girl Wrote It. Can you tell us about what inspired it? 
I was asked to write a short play for a Valentine’s-y evening of shorts to be performed at a bar, put on by the awesome Counterpoint Theatre. I love writing about relationships, and what lunatics they make us humans. With Yes, I was obsessing over the fact that when humans, or more specifically, me – when I enter a new relationship, I immediately get way ahead of myself and into the future of the relationship, instead of staying present inside of it.
  • When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? What made you want to start writing plays?
I’ve known I was a writer since I was very wee, like 5 or 6. It’s always been how I’ve expressed and identified myself. I started out writing stories and poems, did that through high school – started doing theater in high school, was a REAL bad actor, then wrote my first play first year of college while studying theater at UNC Chapel Hill. I was instantly hooked. It was a much less lonely way to write, and I instantly fell in love with how much plays move and change as you work on them.
  • Who or what has been your biggest influence as a writer? What inspires you to get to the page?
I was definitely inspired by my teachers at The New School – namely Laura Maria Censebella, Pippin Parker, Christopher Shinn and Michael Weller. They were hugely encouraging and challenging during my formative years. Usually a play starts with something that I’m deeply afraid of, or something I read about that I find terrifying. So I guess it oftentimes starts with fear.
  • In terms of your creative process, do you have a particular schedule or ritual when it comes to writing? If so, can you share it with us? 
When I’m writing a first draft, I need to be surrounded by noise. Music, TV, random conversations at a bar. It’s usually at night. I usually have one song that made me want to write the play, and I listen to it over and over and over and over while writing. Later, when I’m rewriting it, this song helps me emotionally re-access the play. When it comes to rewriting, I approach it much more academically and in the daylight.
  • I see on your website that you will write custom monologues for actors. Have any of these custom monologues inspired you to then go on to write a play incorporating that character? 
I haven’t done so yet, but the thought has definitely occurred to me! I LOVE writing these monologues because they’re a very productive form of procrastination for me. I don’t always nail it on the first go, but I really love nothing more than a happy customer.  
  • Can you tell us about other projects you are working on right now? 
Sure! I’m working on a Sloan commission with EST about Global Warming. I’m also rehearsing a play with some incredible high school actors at the Professional Performing School. I’ve recently started working in television, as well – I just finished working on the first season of Underemployed, a show that Craig Wright created for MTV.

(You can also check out Bekah's play Warmth this month as part of The Dorothy Strelsin Fresh Ink Reading Series at Primary Stages.)

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