10-Minute Play Festival Backstage Interview

July 21, 2010 in Blog by Jacob Watson

Education & Community Engagement intern Jacob Watson corresponds with three of the playwrights whose work was chosen for the 10-Minute Play Selections, a part of the Goodman’s Latino Theatre Festival.  All three of these participants were selected for the 16-19 year-old age category.

Meet the 10-minute playwrights!

Photo by Teresa M Rende. From L to R: Jordan Puckett, Ilana Peña, Henry Godinez, Willa Taylor, Tara Levy, and Elizabeth Nungaray

Tara Levy, Status Quo

Favorite Play: Fences by August Wilson

Favorite Playwright: August Wilson

Elizabeth Nungaray, Cultural Separation

Favorite Play: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe by Edward Albee

Favorite Playwright: Josefina Lopez

Favorite Quote: “To be human is to be Theatre” – Augusto Boal

Ilana Peña, Atascado

Favorite Play: Our Town by Thornton Wilder

Favorite Playwright: Charles Mee

Favorite Quote: “Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.” –Stanislavsky

Learn about the experience

How did you find out about the 10-minute selections? What did you hope to gain by entering?

TL:I won my first playwriting contest at Goodman when I was fourteen, and my mom and Ms. Willa motivated me to write another play for the Latino Fest.

IP: I received an e-mail through the Northwestern University theatre mailing list about the contest and I immediately wanted to enter. I was excited to enter because I wanted to gain the experience of creating a piece of work that was about something so close to home, and was, ultimately, about my life and my experiences, as well as those of my father. I hoped to learn more about myself and my culture through writing a play with such a specific, relevant prompt.

What was it like to experience your play being professionally read out loud for the first time? Were you nervous, happy, calm?

TL: It was an out of body experience. At the time I was only fourteen and I never imagined having actors act out my play. The performance was amazing and I was glad to make my family proud.

EN: In the beginning I was really nervous watching the play but the director and actors did an amazing job bringing the play to life. Halfway through the play I realized how surreal it was that someone was performing my work.

How did each of you create your work? Did you draw any inspiration from your environment or from people you knew?

EN: I drew inspiration for the play by observing different family dynamics. Usually in plays about Latin families the father character is based on machismo culture but, I wanted to demonstrate how that isn’t always the case. I wanted to present the idea of a father who struggles to provide everything for his family, in exchange for some respect in his home.

IP: I started writing the family story that I believed most clearly illustrated culture clash – the story of when my father, at age five, had to sit with paper-mache stuck to his hands because his teacher would not help him get it off unless he asked in English. From that story came a story about how my experiences in the school system after my father’s death mirrored my father’s experiences as a young Cuban immigrant. I decided that this would be my story, and I wrote real characters, who lived experiences that had actually happened. I wanted the story to be truthful in its message as well as in its content.

Have any of you ever written a play before?

TL: I’ve written three other plays prior to Status Quo.

EN: Cultural Separation was the first play I have written.

IP: I had written one play for a ten-minute play festival at Northwestern, and two plays as part of a ten-minute play class I took at Northwestern.

Do you foresee more playwriting in your futures?

TL: Yes, I do see myself writing plays in the future. I love writing.

EN: Yes!

IP: I do! I am taking a year-long playwriting sequence at Northwestern, and I hope to continue to write plays. I plan to learn as much as I can about playwriting, and do as much of it as I can as well.

Any last comments you would like to share with our bloggers?

TL: I hope more young people will be inspired to write literature.

EN: Thank you for your support!

IP: I encourage any writers out there to keep writing!