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New Mexico's Professional Theatre Company

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Meet the Playwrights of The Seven: It's Now or Never!

We are thrilled to introduce the playwrights of The Seven: It’s Now or Never by asking them seven questions about their works for The Seven. Join us June 6-9 and welcome these wonderful playwrights to The Seven family!

Choices by James McLindon, Northampton, MA
JURY AWARD WINNER
How did you hear about The Seven?
Through the Playwrights Center listings

What was the impetus/basis/inspiration for writing the piece? 
The crushing burden of student loans, especially at a time of worsening income inequality, threatens our very notion of America as a land of opportunity. The piece is an attempt to consider that dilemma through comedy.

Is this play representational of your writing style? Is it similar to or different from your other plays? 
It's similar in that I tend to write dramas with comedy and comedies about serious issues. This is the latter.

What is the role of the short work in your playwriting career? 
Initially, I found such plays useful as writing exercises, but soon came to realize that they could be ends unto themselves. In addition, I've written several now that have become full length plays. In each case, after finishing the short version, I came to realize that the characters had a lot more story in them.

What is your favorite play? 
Who can say? Tom Stoppard's Arcadia. Anything by August Wilson or Lauren Gunderson or Brandan Jacobs-Jenkins. Anne Washburn's Mr. Burns. On a different day, I'd probably have a different list of plays and writers.

Who is your favorite playwright? I only get one?
See my previous answer and ask me again tomorrow.

What is your next playwriting venture? 
My play, When We Get Good Again, won the Playhouse on the Square's New Works Competition and will premiere next January in Memphis. I also have two new plays in development that will be receiving readings in New York, Providence and Connecticut in the next few weeks.

Is there anything you would like to add? 
Thanks to Fusion and the Festival for this award and this opportunity. I can't wait to see what they do with Choices.


Streamliners Across America by Paul Lewis, Bainbridge Island, WA
How did you hear about The Seven?
Everyone knows about The Seven!

What was the impetus/basis/inspiration for writing the piece?
I’ve been working on a full-length play, a coming-of age story at the heart of which is a train journey. “Streamliners Across America” started out as a scene in that play but then began to take on a life of its own, and I pretty much followed where it took me. The music of Aaron Copland and the endlessly inspiring landscapes of the Southwest helped shape the language and tone.

Is this play representational of your writing style? Is it similar to or different from your other plays? 
I think it’s fairly typical of my writing style. I gravitate toward specificity, and stories set in the recent past. I trust my characters, and try to allow them the freedom to make interesting choices. 

What is the role of the short work in your playwriting career?
Several of my short plays have served as platforms for subsequent full-length pieces, but mostly I just really love the economy and rigor of the form. Animating and populating a world that’s only going to be around for fifteen minutes forces you to become imaginative and resourceful.

What is your next playwriting venture?
The full-length play mentioned above, named “The Bright Days of Our Youth”; another full-length piece, about a man haunted by memories of a previous life as a tin soldier; and a musical for young audiences set against the backdrop of the Apollo 13 mission.

Is there anything you would like to add?
FUSION is such an extraordinary place, and I’m so honored and grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of this festival once again.


That’s Some Eulogy by Paula Fell, Corona del Mar, CA
How did you hear about The Seven?
Through a fellow playwright.

What was the impetus/basis/inspiration for writing the piece?
Well, though it’s a comedy, the inspiration came from a sad moment. I had just finished writing a eulogy for a dear friend. While I knew this person well and had many nice things to say, it was still a difficult task. I thought about how difficult it would be if I had had to write a eulogy for someone I didn’t know very well. Then I thought how it would be very difficult to write a eulogy for someone I didn’t like. And voila, there was the play.

Is this play representational of your writing style? Is it similar to or different from your other plays?
Yes, it is similar to my other plays? Though my play Trust Me is much darker.

What is the role of the short work in your playwriting career?
It’s helped me explore ideas that may become full length plays. Which is what I intend to do with That’s Some Eulogy after I finish the current play I’m working on.

What is your favorite play?
Safe in Hell
by Amy Freed.

Who is your favorite playwright?
Tom Stoppard

What is your next playwriting venture?
It’s about a wanna be ghost hunter. His endeavors are too successful for his own good.

Is there anything you would like to add?
Thank you for making this Festival possible. These opportunities are invaluable to the playwriting community.


Fluent by Chuck Smith, Woodbridge, VA
How did you hear about The Seven?
Through the internet.  I was not going to apply again this year until I got an e-mail from Fusion mentioning the closing date for new submissions. It happened that I had an unproduced ten minute play that fell within the parameters of “It’s Now or Never”.

What was the impetus/basis/inspiration for writing the piece?
I was looking at a magazine and an ad had the word “fluent”. I thought it might be interesting if a man and a woman met who didn’t speak the other’s language. They would both be in China, a place where most don’t speak either of their languages and where they would be together only for a short time in a Chinese railroad station. If there were sparks between them, how might they communicate?

Is this play representation of your writing style? Is it similar or different from your other plays?
I generally write comedies and the last five of my plays have been romantic comedies.  I generally write ten minute and one act plays. This play is similar in that, to get them staged, the cast has to be small and the set has to be minimal.  In this case, it is just a bench. It is different in that I laid down some land mines for myself.  The lady must speak primarily French, but still make herself understood.  At first, I thought I was dooming the play, but now I think that the French part may have made it more original. The other land mine was that the actress should also be realistic in speaking French, which might exclude a number of actresses and perhaps hamper the play getting produced.  I used my high school French and some internet translation services to provide some basic French words for the actress to say. As it is a comedy, I added some language confusion, some teasing, and some comedic movement.

What is the role of the short work in your playwriting career?
I started as an actor in Community Theater and then was an actor on a One Act Festival.  The play went well and I said to myself: “I can do this.” I wrote a comedy for the next festival about a play falling apart and the actors trying to keep going. It was well received, but whenever I explained the concept, people would say: “Oh, Noises Off.” I had never seen the play, but perhaps everything old is new again. I have continued to primarily write one act plays. I began to note that there are a lot of ten minute play festivals, so I began writing a few of those plays.  They are a bit tougher as you have to establish the characters, set up the premise fast, and then have a proper ending.  Get in and get out fast.

What is your next playwriting venture?
I got tired of judges in the local One Act Festival choosing the Best Play as one featuring a person with cancer, a relative with a mental problem, or a black doctor in Mississippi in the 1920s.  I was frustrated having my comedies be runners-up. (I think it is harder to write a good comedy than a drama, but don’t tell anybody.) So I have written a thriller about a murderous woman falling into an affair with a former homicide detective. It will be performed by The Old Opera House in Charles Town, VW in June. I also have two readings in May and August.

What is your favorite play? Who is your favorite playwright?
My favorite play is the first I ever saw: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (with the original cast).  My Dad had no interest in theater so he bought me the worst seat in the house and then came back for me later.  I rekindled my love of the theater as a soldier in the 1970s.  The army base ran a bus into NYC every Tuesday and the USO gave us tickets for plays either in previews or starting to slide in popularity. For example, Woody Allen had left Play It Again Sam, but I was perfectly happy with Bob Denver in the role. Neil Simon had a lot of plays on Broadway then and I saw a lot of his plays. He is my favorite playwright as he wrote so beautifully for his characters and comedy flows from character


Stew by K. Alexa Mavromatis, Rumford, RI
How did you hear about The Seven?
I don’t remember when I first learned about The Seven, but I imagine it could have been years ago through a Yahoo Group I’m a member of—Playwright Binge. The group was founded by my friend Patrick Gabridge. Members of the group share submission opportunities—as well as updates on productions and contests—with one another and offer support and advice. It started as a local thing in the Boston area and has grown to more than 1,500 playwrights all over the U.S. and world.

What was the impetus/basis/inspiration for writing the piece?
Years ago, a friend told me about someone who had passed away, leaving behind home cooked meals in her freezer. This person was an excellent cook, and her family took comfort in those leftovers. That morsel of a story stayed with me until one day the dramatist inside wondered: What would it be like to reach the last container of your mom’s cooking that would ever exist, and on what occasion would you decide to eat it?

Is this play representational of your writing style? Is it similar to or different from your other plays?
My plays tend to be very character-driven, so in that sense I would have to say it represents my style well. One of the most exciting aspects of the ten-minute play is the freedom the short form gives writers to experiment. Stew couldn’t be more different than my play Jinxed (a finalist for The Seven in 2010), which is a post-apocalyptic physical comedy full of foul language and general absurdity. Although now that I think about it, Stew centers on food and the characters in Jinxed are named Meatloaf and Stringbean, so maybe those two plays have more in common than I thought!

What is the role of the short work in your playwriting career?
Small plays have had a big impact on my career, and on my life in general. The success of a couple of early short plays emboldened me to explore this path in the first place, and that led to grad school (Boston University), and to working on longer plays. I now work (managing marketing and communications) in the program where I got my MFA, and I’ve discovered a love of arts administration as well. And it’s all traceable to ten-minute plays!

What is your favorite play? Who is your favorite playwright?
It’s difficult to choose a favorite, but Angels in America is certainly way up there. It has everything—it’s dramatic, political, ambitious, funny, beautiful, messy, and a million other things including imperfect…but that’s part of what makes it so great. No way can I choose a favorite playwright—every time I think of one, I think of five more.

What is your next playwriting venture?
Right now, I’m working on a new draft of my full-length play Pirate Radio, and also on a series of short plays—that will ultimately be able to be staged singly or as a group—I’m calling The 1987 Plays.

Is there anything you would like to add?
Thank you to everyone at FUSION for supporting Stew, and for providing development opportunities for new plays!


Woman on the 97th Floor by Susan Kelejian, Ojai, CA
How did you hear about The Seven?
I belong to a playwriting submissions online group where I saw this deadline, though originally I think it was perusing the internet a few year ago (maybe 10??) and I had submitted then.

What was the impetus/basis/inspiration for writing the piece?
Well, I loved the theme of Now or Never- it inspired some conflict right away! So I began to daydream and wrote two pieces, one drama and one comedy. The drama came flooding to me right away:

The image which most stuck in my mind from 9/11, though there are several, was one of two people, a man and a woman, jumping from an office window, hand in hand. When I watched in horror, sobbing, I also felt a sense of happiness for them- as if they made a choice, that they took life into their hands, quite literally and thumbed their nose at death. So many questions came to mind: who were they? Did they know each other well or just meet? Did they work together? Did they like each other or not and resolved their differences in the moment, to get to the point of the greater meaning of life? For so many of us here (in the US) that day was a defining day in a myriad of ways. My cousin Steven Vincent, a journalist in NY, changed his life on that day and decided to go to Afghanistan to investigate. He subsequently was murdered while he was reporting back to newspapers and blogging. It inspired me to write “Wishing and Flesh” – a full length drama about his life, his choices. I think this short was also an homage to him, and all the people who had to make so many difficult and some final choices that day. It certainly has affected me, and through my personal struggles and pain I often will turn events around and create artistic projects. Woman on the 97th Floor is one of them.

Is this play representational of your writing style? Is it similar to or different from your other plays?
Most of my plays are longer- one acts and full lengths, so this is different. Though my central theme seems to permeate my work which is “overcoming adversity while searching for one’s truth.”

What is the role of the short work in your playwriting career?
This piece came after a little over 20 years of playwriting.

What is your favorite play? Who is your favorite playwright?
Too many to list, not one favorite. I do love Shakespeare, Stoppard, Reza, and Blessing. But I’m hugely into farce and broad comedy as well, as I write mash-ups and perform commedia del arte. Think “Inspecting Carol,” “ Noises Off,” “ The Mystery of Irma Vep,” etc.

What is your next playwriting venture?
Speaking of mash-ups
…. I have just written a comedy mash- up of monologues and scenes for a fundraising event late June called “Belles of Bedlam” which is being performed one night in Ojai, CA this summer. It asks,  “What if Shakespeare’s heroines lived and ended up with mental disorders?” After that, my next project is for the Fall which will be a staged reading with my theater company, A Muse of Fire, performing a dramatic interpretation of Chekhov’s The Three Sisters with added scenes I’m writing, set in a retirement home. Themes of aging, memory, and life’s purpose. Simultaneously, I am finishing a full length entitled, “Lakshmi’s House” with themes of friendship and the ritual of dying. 

Is there anything you would like to add?
Thank you for being passionate about theater and creating a platform for new plays. I feel grateful to be recognized for my work.


If We Only Knew by Aren Haun, San Francisco, CA
How did you hear about The Seven?
I get my info for opportunities from several places, but I think I heard about this one from Play Submissions Helper.

What was the impetus/basis/inspiration for writing the piece?
A local group asked me to submit a piece for 2020 where each of the writers would write a 10-minute play for each decade of the 20th Century.  I was given the 1960s.  Since then I have been working on more than one play for the 60s and this is my favorite so far.  

Is this play representational of your writing style? Is it similar to or different from your other plays?
I don't often get to play with form in a way where it really adds something to the theme.  I have another short play I wrote many years ago called Allegory of a Cafe, where a baristas life passes him by in about 10 minutes.  This was similar to that.  With full-length plays, I can only think of one example where I allowed myself to fit the form to the theme.  I wish I could do it more often.

What is the role of the short work in your playwriting career?
I started out writing short plays and then left them behind.  In some ways I love them because I can write them very quickly.  But I find it very, very difficult to write a good one.  It relies more on inspiration, a quick burst of energy.  For awhile I experimented with trying to get across the same level of dimension of a longer play in 10 minutes but I'm convinced it can't be done, or at least I've never seen it.  Beckett came the closest, I think.  The problem is that it there simply isn't enough time for the audience to develop identification with the characters.  Having said that, I love coming up with new concepts.

What is your favorite play? Who is your favorite playwright?
I read tons of plays so it's hard to narrow it down.  In truth, I have a special fondness for Edmond by David Mamet, as it was the first real play I ever saw performed.  I was amazed how much could be done with such a simple set, just a couple chairs and a table.  I realized all that other stuff wasn't essential.  But I also credit John Patrick Shanley, especially the book 13 by Shanley, as the reason I became a playwright.  He just put everything I was feeling into these great characters, with lots of humor, too.

What is your next playwriting venture?
I'm off to Alaska for the Last Frontier Theatre Convention!  My play Parallax was chosen for a reading.  It's my first time so I'm very excited and curious about it.

Is there anything you would like to add?
For the past four years, I've been teaching playwriting in a high school to all four grade levels.  I'm not sure what effect it's had on my own writing, but I do think it's made me better at writing short plays.  You just get used to seeing what works and what doesn't.  So thanks to all the kids who have really been teaching me!

Blair Nodelman