Summer Playwrights Festival Participant Interviews

The Road Theatre Company Proudly Presents

The Eighth Annual
SUMMER PLAYWRIGHTS FESTIVAL

 

8 Days! 30+ plays!
Receptions and live music nightly!

This year’s festival will include a 50/50 parity of male and female playwrights and runs Sunday, July 3Oth through Sunday, August 6th at The Road on Lankershim, in the Historic Lankershim Arts Center in North Hollywood at 5108 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood  and at The Road on Magnolia at 10747 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood  at the NoHo Arts Colony!

 We will feature spotlights on all the playwrights of full length plays over the next few weeks. This week the spotlight shines on Erik Patterson, author of The Sex Lives of Strangers*.

Erik Patterson

What is your familiarity with The Road and the Playwrights Festival? If you have been here before how would you rate your experience? If not, why did you choose to bring your play here? Have you seen work produced here?

I’ve been a big fan of The Road for years. I especially loved their recent production of Albee’s The Play About the Baby. It was funny and moving and full of lovely moments of theatricality. The director of that production, Andre Barron, is directing my play for the Playwrights Festival, and I’m thrilled to work with him. This is the first time I’ve worked at The Road, but it feels like it’s been years in the making. Like a door I’ve been waiting to walk through. So when the opportunity came up, it was a no-brainer. They have such a deep well of talent at The Road. I was like: yes. Yes, yes, yes. Let’s do this.

What is your process for writing and rewriting? Anything you care to share here as advice for other playwrights would be welcome.

Plays usually fester in my brain for awhile. This one had a rather unusual origin story. I was in Palm Springs for a friend’s 50th birthday and I tripped and hit my head. It was one of those embarrassing falls you hope no one saw. For a moment I tried to pretend it didn’t happen. Then I reached up, touched my head, and looked at my hand…which was covered in blood. Cut to a few hours later, when I was sitting in the emergency room waiting for stitches, with one of my best friends. She asked me to write a play for her—something “dangerous and sexy.” She had a list of things she’d always wanted to do in a play, basically a handful of ingredients. While I was writing this play, my friend ended up having two kids and not being available anymore, but I never would’ve written this play if I hadn’t cut open my head and spent the night in an ER with her, talking about theater.

As far as rewriting goes, it’s an essential part of the process. I like to hear my plays read aloud as often as possible. Sometimes that means me sitting alone in a room reading it out loud to myself, sometimes it means getting a group of actors together in a living room to hear it read. At this point, I’ve heard this play read out loud a few dozen times, and every time I hear something different. It’s like I get to know the play better and better, and I can hear what the play needs from me, what the play’s missing. And then I dive back into the script and get back to work.

What is the value of having your work done here at The Road in California? What are your expectations and hopes for your play for the future?

I’m excited to work with The Road on The Sex Lives of Strangers. There are so many aspects of this play that are visual and I’m ready to take this play onto the next stage of its journey, which would be a production. I’m looking forward to being in a rehearsal room with a great group of actors and designers, and a smart director, ready to take this play to the next level.

Remember: The Road on Lankershim is located in the Historic Lankershim Arts Center in North Hollywood at 5108 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood  and The Road on Magnolia at 10747 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood  at the NoHo Arts Colony! There is street parking available in both locations, but come early, at least a half hour before curtain.

Because SPF8 is a fundraiser, tickets are by donation only and are only available at the door! Suggested donation for a single performance is $15 –or this year, try a weeklong festival pass for the suggested donation of $50! 

*To be read Friday August 4 at 8 pm at Lankershim.

 

Cory Hinkle

What is your familiarity with The Road and the Playwrights Festival? If you have been here before how would you rate your experience? If not, why did you choose to bring your play here? Have you seen work produced here?

My play When We Could was in last year’s festival. I had a great experience – it was really well cast and I did some good work on the play.

What is your process for writing and rewriting? Anything you care to share here as advice for other playwrights would be welcome.

In a first draft, I try to get out of the way and let my characters speak. I put a lot more time and thought into re-writes – how the form of the play works, why I’m writing it. For me writing is a back-and-forth between intuition and thought, but I always like to stay a little bit in that space of instinct, of not knowing where the play is going. I guess that’s my advice – stay in the place of not knowing as long as possible.

What is the value of having your work done here at The Road in California? What are your expectations and hopes for your play for the future?

I live in L.A., so having my work produced or developed in the place where I live is always valuable. 

Remember: The Road on Lankershim is located in the Historic Lankershim Arts Center in North Hollywood at 5108 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood  and The Road on Magnolia at 10747 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood  at the NoHo Arts Colony! There is street parking available in both locations, but come early, at least a half hour before curtain.

Because SPF8 is a fundraiser, tickets are by donation only and are only available at the door! Suggested donation for a single performance is $15 –or this year, try a weeklong festival pass for the suggested donation of $50! 

*To be read Saturday August 5 at 2 pm at Lankershim.

 

Kieron Barry

What is your familiarity with The Road and the Playwrights Festival? If you have been here before how would you rate your experience? If not, why did you choose to bring your play here? Have you seen work produced here?

I have had a number of happy experiences with The Road. I was fortunate enough to have an earlier play of mine featured in the Playwrights Festival some years ago, and benefitted greatly from the reading itself, the discussion afterwards and the insights of director Bjorn Johnson and moderator Carlyle King. Later I directed a rehearsed reading of another play of mine at The Road which yielded  a similarly fruitful post-show analysis. That seems to be the key benefit of The Road; an unusually intelligent audience.

What is your process for writing and rewriting? Anything you care to share here as advice for other playwrights would be welcome.

The first requirement for producing decent work is a looming, terrifying deadline. Any small but overt act such as booking a theatre for the night, sending out invitations to respected professionals etc. is sufficient to induce the necessary panic. Without that I am neither productive nor clever, but once fear is introduced into the mental ecosystem I can at last access the emergency supplies of concentration that my brain otherwise rather spitefully keeps locked away.

Thereafter it becomes a question of how many readings can one arrange. If you’re writing a new draft without having heard the previous one performed then it’s not really a new draft. Writing plays is like windsurfing – you have to humiliatingly learn in public, there is no other way. People who have not yet encountered your current script in any form become increasingly rare, and increasingly valuable. They are unstained by the long-running debate over the ending, or the question of whether those two separate characters should really be one, and can adjudicate with purity. After a reading of a very tangled second draft, a woman approached me and said with disarming economy ‘It’s really a play about addiction and delusion, isn’t it.’ Free of charge she had provided the new first line of the play.


What is the value of having your work done here at The Road in 
California? What are your expectations and hopes for your play for the future?

There is a paradox in a reading of this stature. On the one hand, you are sorely tempted to apply as much spit and polish to the script as possible before sending it out there in its best Sunday blazer. If you don’t fondly retain the fantasy of causing the theatrical sensation of the 21st Century then you should really give up writing plays. 

On the other hand, it is in one’s best creative interests to keep as many options open as possible to aid the inevitable rewrite. If one has a genuine desire to refashion the work then the clay must remain rough-hewn and malleable. Often I have been privately doubtful about a scene and thrown it in reluctantly at the last minute, only to find an audience delights in it. There is a logic, then, in risking humiliation. 

Both of these considerations, however, are tempered by the inviolate rule engraved above every playwright’s desk: The only flaw an audience will never forgive is excessive length. 

Remember: The Road on Lankershim is located in the Historic Lankershim Arts Center in North Hollywood at 5108 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood  and The Road on Magnolia at 10747 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood  at the NoHo Arts Colony! There is street parking available in both locations, but come early, at least a half hour before curtain.

Because SPF8 is a fundraiser, tickets are by donation only and are only available at the door! Suggested donation for a single performance is $15 –or this year, try a weeklong festival pass for the suggested donation of $50! 

*The Official Adventures of Kieron and Jade plays Thursday August 3  on Lankershim at 8 pm.

 

Ellen Svaco

What is your familiarity with The Road and the Playwrights Festival? If you have been here before how would you rate your experience? If not, why did you choose to bring your play here? Have you seen work produced here?

I’ve seen a number of productions at The Road Theater Company over the years. I’m always impressed by the caliber of the plays as well as the actors. I think they strive to present theater with a fresh point of view and often with some edge. If I’m seeing a play at The Road, I know I’m in good hands.

What is your process for writing and rewriting? Anything you care to share here as advice for other playwrights would be welcome.

Although I’m a writer, this is actually my first play so I’m not an authority.  But I would say that unless you’re a genius, you just have to keep rewriting and refining until it’s ready, until you’re satisfied you’ve got it right. Don’t build a temple around anything you’ve written, always be willing to throw out a scene or eliminate a character because you might just surprise yourself.  I’m still not entirely happy with my play and the festival will give me yet another opportunity to craft it. Give your play to people to read for feedback, ideally people you respect, but also readers you know to be honest.  Trust yourself to know what‘s valuable and essential to your play.  Finally, hear it out loud as often as you can.  A reading can tell you so much about rhythm and pacing as well as stuff that’s just not working.   

What is the value of having your work done here at The Road in 
California? What are your expectations and hopes for your play for the future?

I live in Los Angeles and I’m lucky I get to participate in the rehearsals. It will be both exciting and instructive. I enjoy collaborating so I’m interested in thoughts from the director as well as the actors.  Having your work performed at The Road will definitely expose your play to a wide range of people with different points of view. Ideally, I’d love to have a full production of “The Specials” at The Road Theater. I’m beginning to really like these people.

Remember: The Road on Lankershim is located in the Historic Lankershim Arts Center in North Hollywood at 5108 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood  and The Road on Magnolia at 10747 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood  at the NoHo Arts Colony! There is street parking available in both locations, but come early, at least a half hour before curtain.

Because SPF8 is a fundraiser, tickets are by donation only and are only available at the door! Suggested donation for a single performance is $15 –or this year, try a weeklong festival pass for the suggested donation of $50! 

*The Specials plays Wednesday August 2 on Lankershim at 8 pm.

Henry Ong

What is your familiarity with The Road and the Playwrights Festival? If you have been here before how would you rate your experience? If not, why did you choose to bring your play here? Have you seen work produced here?
I am a big fan of The Road Theatre. I see almost all their shows! It’s always fun and the plays produced here are generally thought-provoking and challenging. I submitted my short play, Stella!!! at the invitation of Carlye King, the Festival Director. I am so pleased to be included in this year’s Festival. It is my first participation in the Festival.

What is your process for writing and rewriting? Anything you care to share here as advice for other playwrights would be welcome.

I start with an idea, usually on a topic that interests me. Then, I think of the characters, a plot, and how to frame my story. After that, it’s a matter of putting it down on paper (or on a computer screen). Sometimes, it flows easily; more often than not, it’s revise and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite! My advice: listen to all feedback, but be true to your artistic vision and initial impulse.

What is the value of having your work done here at The Road in California? What are your expectations and hopes for your play for the future?

To be able to lay claim to having been produced–albeit it is a short play–at The Road is both a privilege and an honor. I hope this will lead to other opportunities with this wonderful Company, and perhaps a production of a full-length play. I also hope that this little play will spark interest and be published in an anthology of short plays, and therefore find life again elsewhere.

Remember: The Road on Lankershim is located in the Historic Lankershim Arts Center in North Hollywood at 5108 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood  and The Road on Magnolia at 10747 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood  at the NoHo Arts Colony! There is street parking available in both locations, but come early, at least a half hour before curtain.

Because SPF8 is a fundraiser, tickets are by donation only and are only available at the door! Suggested donation for a single performance is $15 –or this year, try a weeklong festival pass for the suggested donation of $50! 

*Stella!!! will play Sunday, August 6 with other one act plays on Lankershim at 8 pm.

 

The Road Theatre Company Proudly Presents

The Eighth Annual
SUMMER PLAYWRIGHTS FESTIVAL

Abbey Kahn

What is your familiarity with The Road and the Playwrights Festival? If you have been here before how would you rate your experience? If not, why did you choose to bring your play here? Have you seen work produced here?

As a new playwright, I’m still familiarizing myself with theaters and festivals, both locally and nationally. A friend of mine lived in North Hollywood and she told me that it had an emerging theatre arts community, so I researched the area on the internet and The Road Theatre consistently came up. I thoroughly navigated their site and was very impressed with them. The fact that they operate two theaters on an all-volunteer basis, and take a chance on new works by unknown writers shows me-that they are serious about only producing the best plays. I knew I had to submit  Men and Women” for their next festival, so I put a calendar notification in my email to remind me to check their website for the next submission period. When I received their acceptance email, I was incredibly excited because I have worked endlessly on this play, and their email, which was filled with very kind and enthusiastic words, showed me their appreciation for my work. I am honored and beyond thrilled to have my play performed at this year’s festival!

What is your process for writing and rewriting? Anything you care to share here as advice for other playwrights would be welcome.

I actually rewrite more than I write. I’m very dialogue driven, so I develop my plays around what the characters say, and then the story advances from there. Since I’m more of a comedic writer, I guess this works for me because I’m always looking for the punchline. I also never define my characters because it allows me to be more creative with their personalities and take them in a direction I never thought they would go in. My advice to other playwrights is to write everything down. Thank goodness for smart phones! I can’t tell you how much writing I have gotten done just typing away random thought on my phone that I end up using later.

What is the value of having your work done here at The Road in California? What are your expectations and hopes for your play for the future?
As a local playwright, I’m incredibly excited to see my play Men and Women performed at The Road Theatre. Everyone involved has been very excited and supportive of this play, which is not only reassuring to me as a writer, but it also just means a lot to me. This version that will be seen at SPF8 is actually a shorter version of the play I put together for the night of One-Acts. Right now, the original version is at an awkward length where it’s not exactly a full-length play or a short play, so I’m reworking it to make it a full-length one-act play. Men and Women is a passion project for me, so I hope to see the full-length version at The Road in the near future.

Remember: The Road on Lankershim is located in the Historic Lankershim Arts Center in North Hollywood at 5108 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood  and The Road on Magnolia at 10747 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood  at the NoHo Arts Colony! There is street parking available in both locations, but come early, at least a half hour before curtain.

Because SPF8 is a fundraiser, tickets are by donation only and are only available at the door! Suggested donation for a single performance is $15 –or this year, try a weeklong festival pass for the suggested donation of $50! 

*Men and Women plays Sunday August 6 with other one-acts on Lankershim at 8 pm.

 

Jason Karasev

What is your familiarity with The Road and the Playwrights Festival? If you have been here before how would you rate your experience? If not, why did you choose to bring your play here? Have you seen work produced here?

My exposure to The Road came when I initially moved to Los Angeles from Chicago. I was made aware, as I auditioned as an actor around town, of an incredible company that put new work, artists, and community first. Coming from a strong theatre community in Chicago, I was hoping to find the same commitment and openness that I had seen there. Some had said that was hard to come by in LA, but The Road immediately dispelled that. Their bold new work and diverse group of company members have always been a touchstone for my Los Angeles Theatre experience. And this is why now, as a Playwright, I am honored to have my work directed, acted, and nurtured by this incredible group of Artists. 

What is your process for writing and rewriting? Anything you care to share here as advice for other playwrights would be welcome.


My process for writing has been ever-evolving and ever-changing. What remains the same for me is that I will begin with an idea that usual comes through the vessel of human experience, as well as disparate images that inspire me– random scenes, music, moments, pieces of dialogue; from here I will begin to get energized about a project. After that, I will usually physically improvise with myself, taking on the role(s) of all the characters and begin to shape more concrete scenes for the piece as a whole. At the moment, I aim to keep the outlining process minimal, loose and open to theatrical, outside the box ideas. As a bourgeoning writer, the only real advice I feel equipped to give is: push through. It is easy to be excited about something at the start, but even easier for things to fizzle away when it gets tough. Push through, and you will get to the point of completion. 

What is the value of having your work done here at The Road in California? What are your expectations and hopes for your play for the future?

To have my work at The Road is incredibly powerful. I know that they are open to delving into difficult to discuss and dark subject matters, characters that are greatly conflicted, and worlds we may not always want to explore. This is very present in my play Death House and I know it is, therefore, in good hands. I also feel proud to be a contributor to new work in my home of Los Angeles.

Additionally, I have always hoped for this play to be translated and performed globally, as well as in the prison system. To see this play performed all over the country/world, where I believe this discussion needs to be had, would be a dream. But there is no way for this dream to be realized other than to immerse myself into a diversified, talented community that can not only directly shape the play, but also shape me as an individual who is creating theatre with such issues. I know my experience with the summer festival at The Road will provide this community, as well as be a key element in shaping the path for the future Death House.  

Remember: The Road on Lankershim is located in the Historic Lankershim Arts Center in North Hollywood at 5108 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood  and The Road on Magnolia at 10747 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood  at the NoHo Arts Colony! There is street parking available in both locations, but come early, at least a half hour before curtain.

Because SPF8 is a fundraiser, tickets are by donation only and are only available at the door! Suggested donation for a single performance is $15 –or this year, try a weeklong festival pass for the suggested donation of $50! 

*To be read Sunday August 6 at 2 pm at Lankershim.

 

Angela Davis

What is your familiarity with The Road and the Playwrights Festival? If you have been here before how would you rate your experience? If not, why did you choose to bring your play here? Have you seen work produced here?


As one who aims to be both a playwright and a good “consumer” of theater, I see The Road as a Los Angeles treasure — actually, a national treasure, given the number of playwrights from outside California who are represented.   The Road has a track record of excellence and a longstanding commitment to new work, and the company has  — knock wood — managed to weather challenging times for the LA theatrical community.  It’s also important to me that the The Road has a social conscience, as demonstrated by its community involvement, its outreach to senior and lower income LA residents, and its aims for gender parity. AND, the company members are, like, um — really, really hard working and smart! In addition to being talented, that is. I’m really delighted to have my work performed here and to work with and get to know such a great group. 

What is your process for writing and rewriting? Anything you care to share here as advice for other playwrights would be welcome.

I’m firmly in the camp that holds writers have to be readers.  I try to read constantly and also listen to tons of books, novels, and stage plays on digital audio files. (I commute to downtown LA daily.)   Of course, one of my greatest challenges is the reality that there are only 24 hours in a day.  (I work full-time as an attorney, teach at a local law school, and also have kids, dogs, a loving spouse, and sometimes above-normal levels of mess and chaos.)  A lot of writing gets done on the weekend and in the very early a.m. hours, and I’m compulsive about taking an Ipad mini and/or laptop everywhere.

I’m also compulsive about revising and always emailing myself copies of my latest scenes and revisions.  Aside from being insurance against a computer snafu, having my latest scenes and drafts in emails to myself makes it possible for me to look over my work when I’m on the go, which is, well, pretty much all the time.  

All of that said, I’m a firm believer that theater is a collaborative process, and that plays reach their highest levels after the input and response of talented, hard working directors, actors, and dramaturgs.  I’m extremely grateful when someone like Steve Robman [the director of the SPF8 reading of the play] puts in the time and effort to read my script closely and carefully, and then tells me, “hey, these are some things you need to look at (i.e., fix / revise, or in some instances just ditch entirely).”  My mentor and NYC-based dramaturg, the playwright Bob Montgomery [who, in an uncanny coincidence, was Robman’s classmate at Yale Drama School] has always emphasized that this collaborative process is essential to making plays go from “rehearsal ready” to “audience ready.” 

 What is the value of having your work done here at The Road in California? What are your expectations and hopes for your play for the future?

Preliminarily, the play has received some very nice attention in the past few months.  After being a semi-finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, it went on to become a top-12 finalist for PlayPENN”s 2017 National Development Conference and one of six official selections for FutureFest, the new-play festival hosted by the Dayton Playhouse, where it will be performed just shortly before SPF-8.  I also learned, just this past week, that the play was also a finalist for the national play competition hosted by the HRC Showcase Theatre [in Hudson, NY], and their artistic director sent me a very gracious note asking me to please submit the play to them for their 2018 season.  

This is, of course, all very gratifying, but — see the responses to the above questions — I’ve no doubt that working with people at The Road — even during the compressed time periods that the festival format requires — will be invaluable to my efforts to improve and refine the script, and that process is critical.  

My hopes for the play in the future? I have a lot of them! I’m hopeful that the story and characters genuinely move people — both the audience and the creative team.  Also hopeful that the questions the play raises —  about the power of art to forge human connections, about the moral issues generated by cultural treasures displaced during wartime, and about the perils of passing judgment on those who came before us —  have some resonance. 

It’s tremendously valuable for me to have my work performed and developed at The Road, and my hope is that SPF 8 will mark the start of a much longer relationship with the company. 

Remember: The Road on Lankershim is located in the Historic Lankershim Arts Center in North Hollywood at 5108 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood  and The Road on Magnolia at 10747 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood  at the NoHo Arts Colony! There is street parking available in both locations, but come early, at least a half hour before curtain.

Because SPF8 is a fundraiser, tickets are by donation only and are only available at the door! Suggested donation for a single performance is $15 –or this year, try a weeklong festival pass for the suggested donation of $50! 

*To be read Sunday July 30 at 8 pm at Lankershim.

 

 

Andrew Heinrich

The Road Theatre Company Proudly Presents

What is your familiarity with The Road and the Playwrights Festival? If you have been here before how would you rate your experience? If not, why did you choose to bring your play here? Have you seen work produced here?


My familiarity with The Road was limited to my internet search when I first came across the submission opportunity. Jim Price, who heads up the MFA program at Texas State, was familiar with the company, and his recommendation carries a great deal of weight with me. This will be my first trip out to The Road. I spent about six weeks in Los Angeles about 15 years ago, but have not been back since. 

What is your process for writing and rewriting? Anything you care to share here as advice for other playwrights would be welcome.


I’m a new playwright, so I’m still developing my process, which more or less varies from play to play. If I’m writing from a place of strong inspiration, however, I tend to let a story run around in my head for a while before I ever sit down at the computer. Often, that will give me some visuals, some scene ideas or character sketches or other thoughts, and help solidify my dramatic premise before I begin. With Flood, the play was running around in my mind’s popcorn popper for about a month before the election. The play poured out of me thereafter.  I try to put as many trusted eyes on my first, raw draft as I can. I do an edit, then try to arrange a reading (which, admittedly, is a lot easier at a University than it might otherwise be). After a reading, I’ll attack the script and try to fix what didn’t work. From there, I really believe it has to be on its feet to find any remaining bugs. 

I suppose my advice is this – trust your poetry, and develop relationships with other artists that you trust, whose talents lie in the areas yours do not, and who love your work and want it to be successful. The value of their analysis will really help. 

What is the value of having your work done here at The Road in California? What are your expectations and hopes for your play for the future?

I’m so unspeakably excited to have my work performed by such incredible artists, people I have seen in film and on television for years and years. I expect I’ll learn a great deal by working with such incredible people.  Beyond that, I hope that this play reading will introduce me and my work to the theatre world in L.A. I hope the people that attend the reading enjoy the play, fall in love with the characters, and are moved by it to think about our world and where it might be headed.  Furthermore, I hope (like all playwrights) that someone will fall in love with the play and want to produce it. 

Remember: The Road on Lankershim is located in the Historic Lankershim Arts Center in North Hollywood at 5108 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood  and The Road on Magnolia at 10747 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood  at the NoHo Arts Colony! There is street parking available in both locations, but come early, at least a half hour before curtain.

Because SPF8 is a fundraiser, tickets are by donation only and are only available at the door! Suggested donation for a single performance is $15 –or this year, try a weeklong festival pass for the suggested donation of $50!