Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bekah Brunstetter on Miss Lilly Gets Boned - Part of the New Ohio Ice Factory Festival

 "It is so important when you first start writing to write from a place where you feel awesome, safe, and loved, so that you can really approach honesty and chaos in your work."
-Bekah Brunstetter
Playwright

 What was the inspiration for Miss Lilly Gets Boned?

'Bout 5 years ago, a  friend sent me an article from the New York Times Magazine about the recent violent actions of elephants. The elephants and their behavior felt so human to me. Also, I’d been thinking a lot about goodness, and how much of it is ingrained of us. I was raised in a Christian home, so I’m constantly thinking about. I shoved all of these things together into the play!

What was its development?

It’s had quite the journey. It’s had some great readings at the Aurora Theater in Berkeley, The Babel Theater Project, Flux,  the Lark Playwright’s week in New York, a production in Summer 2011 at the Finborough in London, and was recently translated into Russian in a workshop in Moscow.

What is your writing schedule like?

It definitely depends on if I’m writing a first draft, or re-writing. If it’s a first draft, I need to kind of let go of the rational side of brain, and go a little nuts. This usually happens at night, with wine. If it’s a rewrite, I need daylight and structure. Either way, I’m usually listening to a song or songs that feel like the play to me, over and over.

What kind of development process best serves the way you like to work?

I like to have a cold read of a  brand new script, and then I can instantly sense some (usually small ) small things that aren’t working. Then, in a perfect world, I have a week long-ish workshop where during the day, the actors do scene work, we hang out and talk, and I get to rewrite that afternoon / evening and have new pages the next day! When it comes to development, I really love to work with my buddies – people who know my voice, but still ask the tough questions.

Is where you're at today where you pictured yourself to be at, at this point in time, at some point in time or never?

WELL, at the ripe age of 21, I remember I told myself that I’d win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama by the time I was 30, which just happened. 30. Not the Pulitzer. But I’m so happy, at least for now, to call playwriting my actual job. That, in itself, is baffling, and I pinch myself everyday until I’m forced to go back to renting corporate apartments. I feel very lucky!

Did you always want to be a playwright? How did you come to being in the theater?

I’ve always written since I was very young – started doing theater in high school to get out of my shell, if you will – wrote my first play in college when I realized what a bad actor I was, and was instantly hooked.

Bacon on cookies?

Yes, please.

How do you balance working on various projects at once and life things?

Logistically, I call it singing in rounds with myself. While I’ll have 5-6 things up in the air at one point in time, I’m only working on one thing per day, or week – I’ll get through a draft of something, then move onto the next thing, while keeping the previous thing in the back of my mind. Emotionally,  No matter what I’m doing, I never feel like I’m doing enough, so I’ve just had to embrace the fact that I’m really hard on myself.

What is (or is there) a question no one ever asks you but you wish they did?

I think it’s possibly this question. This is a great question.

And the answer to that question?

Damnit!

What's coming up?

I’ve got productions coming up in 13/14 with the Roundabout and Naked Angels. Also, if you are West Coasty, check out Be a Good Little Widow at the Old Globe Spring ’13!

Any advice you'd give new playwrights, theater artists etc?

Keep writing, and stay confident to do so. Surround yourself with people who love what you write, and trick yourself, for the time being, into believing that you’re the only playwright in the world. It is so important when you first start writing to write from a place where you feel awesome, safe, and loved, so that you can really approach honesty and chaos in your work.

Anything you'd like to add?

I ate an entire bag of microwave popcorn while answering these questions.


Miss Lilly Gets Boned, written by Bekah Brunstetter is a NY Premiere produced by Studio 42 and directed by David F. Chapman. It runs from August 18th - 21st, part of the ongoing New Ohio's Ice Factory Festival.

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