Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Writer's Wednesday: The Wisdom of Stephen Adly Guirgis

So last Friday I got to see a talk and writing workshop from Powerhouse Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis.  He came down to do a staged reading of one of his new works and work with the actors in a production of Mother F@*#er in the Hat. As someone who's read just about all of his work when I saw the flyer I just knew that I had to rush over and see him.

And it was just an awesome event! I'm so glad that the Roxy Regional Theatre and that the APSU Department of Theatre and Dance could work together to bring him in. The room was full of theatre students, some professionals, and other interested students that all wanted to know what it was like to be a writer.

Stephen was a kind and generous writer. He made the craft accessible and stated so many of the things that I found so magical and mysterious about writing plays in such a beautiful and simple way. Today I thought I'd share some of those Pearls of Wisdom that I gained with you.

Borrowed from

  • "If you sit down [to write] and stay down something will happen": A lot of times I'm like everybody else and find it hard to get away from the Internet and the TV while I'm writing. Now I'm really striving to get myself to sit down in the quiet and write.
  • Playwrights need to start their plays based on what they need to see onstage: This is one I absolutely love. I started writing scifi and fantasy in my plays because I never found a play in that genre that was actually good. Are we writing plays because there is a lack of what we're doing onstage. 
  • "I tend to write about the stuff that keeps me up at night.": This one was a hard one for me. So often I'm so involved getting a story that "sells" that I forget that the greatest stories come from the things that hurt you deep and scare you to death.
  • "It's so important that we be interested in the world outside ourselves": Unlike actors the World is our canvas, not our bodies. An artists eyes are always on his canvas.
  • "It costing them (the audience) something to watch it. It should cost us something to do it": Are we giving them a play that's worth the almost $50-$100 (that includes going to dinner, babysitter, etc.)  to go and see it?   
  • "That's why we get into the arts, to create families and communities that we choose": I agree entirely! One of the quotes you'll always hear from me is "find your tribe". Get a group of people around you that want to see your art onstage and have art of theirs that you would like to return the favor on. When you find that you find your support.
See more about his visit to Clarksville here. If you want to see more about his work at the Roxy here. And be sure to follow the theatre company he started in NYC on twitter with @LabTheaterNYC Next week I'll highlight the writing exercises we went over at the workshop and maybe post a work of mine inspired by them. Until then!

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