Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Girl Wrote It: Erin Singleton, Playwright

Erin Singleton performs weekly at The People’s Improv Theater with the indie team Student Driver. She also coaches improv. Erin received her BFA in Theatre from Stephens College in Columbia, MO. She has acted in many plays regionally and in NYC, as well as been in several shorts, including one with J.B. Smoove. For funzies, she likes to produce shot by shot recreations of 80's music videos with Student Driver. Check out their version of Wham’s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go on Funny or Die.
  • Your monologue, Bologna Sandwiches, will be performed as a part of our upcoming production of A Girl Wrote It. Can you tell us about what inspired it? 
I wanted to write about something a character would have trouble admitting to anyone, especially herself, while keeping that vulnerability veiled with humor. I know a lot of women who have felt similarly to this character – it’s usually right before they start feeling like an adult for the first time.
  • How did you first get involved in theatre? When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? What made you want to start writing plays? 
I grew up living and breathing basketball (believe it or not). I suffered a back injury in high school that forced me out of the game and left me sulking on my mom’s couch. She was anxious for me to find something, anything else to do, so she bought me season tickets to the Landers Theatre, a beautiful theater an hour from our home. I saw my first play when I was fifteen. I was mesmerized. The following season I played Juliet at that same theater. I studied every aspect of theatre in college, I like crafting a story from every angle. When I got into live comedy a couple years ago, writing seemed like the natural next step. I’m a newbie to the writer world.
  • Who or what has been your biggest influence as a writer? What inspires you to get to the page?
Like any woman in comedy right now, I love Tina Fey. I will gobble up anything Aaron Sorkin writes. I love writers who strive to give every character integrity, and I think Sorkin is one of the best examples of that. My friends I do improv with are always inspiring me in every way. However, the person who inspires/encourages me the most is my husband. Having someone who believes in your smarts and your talents who also happens to sleep next to you is pretty awesome.
  • In terms of your creative process, do you have a particular ritual when it comes to writing? If so, can you share it with us?
No, not really. I’m still figuring out my process. Right now I start with a want or feeling to communicate. I get that down on paper in all its vague glory, then lots of rewriting and refining! 
  • I read somewhere that – in addition to writing – you regularly perform improv and sketch comedy at The PIT (People’s Improv Theatre). How would you say that experience has contributed to your work as a writer?
Tremendously! Improv is writing on your feet. I do longform improv, which means we are basically creating a 20-25 minute play in front of an audience. Improv teaches me economy of language. It opens me up to my impulses. It demonstrates how rewarding it can be for an audience to see something from earlier in the show brought back throughout a piece when you least expect it. I could go on and on (this “economy of language” thing is an ongoing challenge for me). As for sketch, it allows me to explore non-realistic worlds. My sense of humor can be a little looney toons, and sketch celebrates that.
  • Can you tell us about any other projects you’re working on right now? 
I recently wrote an essay titled Paris Hilton Wears a Burqa. I’d love to expand that into something more. You can catch my indie improv team, Student Driver, every Sunday at 7pm at The People’s Improv Theater. You can also check The PIT’s website for details on the Indie-pendence Day festival we host.

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