Meet Inda Craig-Galván, author of BLACK SUPER HERO MAGIC MAMA and A HIT DOG WILL HOLLER.

Her work is raw, honest, and hilarious. Her plays explore real-world problems wrapped in the dynamic magic of the theatre. She took some time to discuss these two plays in depth and reveals the best advice she’s ever received.  Read now to learn more about her process of writing this play and the importance (or necessity) of collaboration within theatre.    

by Katie Stottlemire

"If you are born with powers (or they’re bestowed on you), and you make the choice to use those powers for good when you could literally do anything else, that feels more admirable to me... Also, invisibility. That’s dope." -
Inda Craig-Galván

KATIE STOTTLEMIRE: Let’s start with your newest play A HIT DOG WILL HOLLER. It follows the relationship between two characters, Dru and Gina, from their first encounter with each other. Their initially different lives become woven together when Dru begins to hear the noise that keeps Gina inside her apartment. What led to the decision to have the two characters share this experience? 

INDA CRAIG-GALVÁN: I was excited to put two vastly different characters in the same space and see how they affected each other. A truth that I explore in all my writing is that Black women, Black people, we are not a monolith. Dru and Gina each move through the world so differently. Their core goals might have started out similar – the fight for justice and equity. But what they each value as well as what they each fear has molded them and their approaches to that fight over time. Taking two women from such far poles and inserting one into the other’s life, and then forcing them to stay there, that’s where the great conflict lies. The real examination of those values and choices. And isn’t it like that in life? Economic backgrounds, education, religion, geography, even skin, body, and hair type, all of it can play into the individual experience a Black person has in this country.Yet at the end of the day, the forces outside of ourselves...[READ FULL Q and A]

Inda

Stacie Lents, author of COLLEGE COLORS, spent some time (in the middle of tech week!) with TRW discussing her thought-provoking play about friendship and change.

Read now to learn more about her process of writing this play and the importance (or necessity) of collaboration within theatre.  

by Katie Stottlemire

KATIE STOTTLEMIRE: Your play COLLEGE COLORS is set in the same room for the entire play but highlights two pairs of roommates that lived there seventy years apart from each other. How did you come to create these specific characters and their relationships? 

STACIE LENTS: I knew that I wanted to explore the questions of what has changed for us as a society and for young adults over time—and what hasn’t changed. At its heart, this is a play about friendship and about the aspirations and failures of friendship when it comes to addressing our own prejudice.  I wanted to explore and question how we as individuals are impacted by this country’s history when it comes to prejudice, racism, homophobia--and what it means to be a friend in the face of that history. It seemed logical to explore two sets of characters at two different points in time because that allowed the two sets of actors/characters to be in dialogue with each other even when they’re not on stage together. But in terms of creating these characters, I had a lot of help; I owe a debt of gratitude to all of the actors who played these roles as they were very honest with me about what felt true to them. I was also very fortunate to develop this play initially at my own home university, Fairleigh Dickinson University, where the first brilliant cast of student actors had many conversations with me as I was writing about what is important to them as college students. Producer Marshall Jones III and actor Jasmine Carmichael were also invaluable advisors during the play’s development. Ms. Carmichael, who played Tanya in an early workshop, read several drafts of the play including the publication draft and took the time to offer feedback about... [READ THE ARTICLE]

Stacie Lents

Adding three new plays to the TRW Plays collection (TALES FROM RED VIENNA, IBSEN IN CHICAGO, and CYRANO DE BERGERAC), playwright David Grimm has joined the TRW family.

He spent some time with TRW to discuss these titles, the importance of recovery in art, and what his job might be in another life. (Hint: he does it in this life too!)   

by Katie Stottlemire

KATIE STOTTLEMIRE: Let’s start with TALES FROM RED VIENNA. It takes place in the 1920s, and the struggles of that time seem radically different from the world we live in at present. For you, what makes this play vital for today’s audiences?  

DAVID GRIMM: Although the play is set in 1920 as Germany tried to recover from WW1, the play was actually inspired by very immediate circumstances (at least at the time I wrote it around 2010). Both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars were dragging on with no end in sight, with mounting American casualties, and many of those widowed by the war were falling through the cracks. Their lives had been wrapped up in supporting those who served our country, and then, with death - nothing! I was also inspired by German Expressionism - specifically those paintings of WW1 war widows in full mourning, walking the streets as prostitutes to make ends meet. The image catapulted the play into existence, you might say. Additionally, we were approaching the centenary of World War 1 (which, at the time, was called, “The war to end all wars.” Hm.). At any rate, my play is about recovery; about moving on from mourning and loss. It’s about rediscovering life and celebrating it while we have it. 

KATIE: Stories of recovery are especially important now. TALES FROM RED VIENNA and IBSEN IN CHICAGO both feature strong and unique female characters, and the tension arises from conflict in their relationships and well as class differences. How did you balance these two tensions in your writing? 

DAVID: In a country such as ours, devoted to the making of money (that is, after all, what Capitalism is), it always surprises me when people point out that I write about class. How can one not? Class is ever present in our daily lives and in our politics. Despite the claims of the American Dream, America is... [READ FULL Q and A]

William-Missouri-downs

William Missouri Downs talks plays, writing and...why Death of a Salesman may need a rewrite. 

The playwright of HOW TO STEAL A PICASSO & ASKING STRANGERS THE MEANING OF LIFE gets to the art of the matter with TRWPlays QnA series, with a focus on the responsibilities of the playwright. 

by Katie Stottlemire

“Theatre is about individual playwrights openly writing about their hopes, griefs, humiliations, defects, complaints, success, and private thoughts in an attempt to... see, if only for a moment, life differently. That’s my hope, to allow the audience and myself to laugh as we see life differently.” -William Missouri Downs

KATIE STOTTLEMIRE: Two of your plays have found a home at TRW: HOW TO STEAL A PICASSO and the newly released ASKING STRANGERS THE MEANING OF LIFE. Both are hilarious pieces that take very different formats. HOW TO STEAL A PICASSO is set in the tangible household of the family the story centers on and happens in real time, whereas ASKING STRANGERS is fluid with time and takes place in multiple, ambiguous locations. How do you approach writing comedy in such a variety of contexts and settings?  

WILLIAM MISSOURI DOWNS: I believe that every context, setting, and story can be a comedy. I read once that the Greeks believed comedy, not tragedy, was the true catharsis. If you think about it, wouldn’t Oedipus make a much better comedy? In the final scene, Oedipus and his mom would file for a no-fault divorce, provide for their hemophilic-Habsburg jaw sons, and learn to laugh about their very human mistake - And then they’d have make up sex. And while I’m at, Death of a Salesman would also make a better comedy. Just before curtain, there’d be a touching scene where Willy apologizes to his sons for giving them such stupid names. Biff and Happy? He must’ve known that such handles would scar them. And then he’d talk about how there’s more to life than trying to live up to the unachievable American dream - Like enjoying the afternoon with his newly named sons, Ethan and Owen. 

KATIE: At that point, the play would probably need a new name too! Both of your plays offer catharsis through comedy while interrogating essential questions about humanity. HOW TO STEAL A PICASSO explores what constitutes art and ASKING STRANGERS questions the very meaning of our existence. What are you hoping to inspire by asking these questions through your work?  

WILLIAM: Theatre is about individual playwrights openly writing about their hopes, griefs, humiliations, defects, complaints, success, and private thoughts in an attempt to find that cathartic, transformative moment where... [READ FULL ARTICLE]

William-Missouri-downs

Tyler Dwiggins writes about his most personal play yet, THE BINDING, in his essay about how he came to write this story and the importance of LGBTQ+ representation in theatre and film. He calls this play “The Gay Pixar Play”. Find out why... 

TRWPlays author Tyler Dwiggins was kind enough to share some time with TRWPlays, with an exclusive essay. 

The Gay Pixar Play 

By Tyler Dwiggins 

“Do we really need another ‘coming out’ story?” This phrase gets thrown around more often than it should, and I’ve never understood it. We live in an entertainment ecosystem that can support six thousand superhero movies a year. Are there really that many “coming out” stories clogging up our stages and screens? 

Still, it was a phrase that bounced around my brain as I began writing my play The Binding. The first scene I wrote was that of Isaac—a closeted religious teen—asking his mother – a youth pastor—about a Bible story in which a father almost sacrifices his own son on an altar to prove his love for God. I saw that Bible story as a metaphor for religious parents who sacrifice their own relationships with their queer children after they come out. 

But, I asked myself the familiar question. “Do we really need another ‘coming out’ story?” 

And the truth was, I didn’t want to write a basic “coming out” play. I wanted to write something whimsical -- with stage magic and literal flights of fancy. I wanted to create a play about queer characters that felt as imaginative and big-hearted as movies like Inside Out or Monsters, Inc. And that is how The Binding became what I lovingly referred to as “the gay Pixar play.” 

I decided to pair Isaac’s struggle with his sexual identity and his religious upbringing with the sudden re-appearance of Poppy – Isaac’s childhood Imaginary Friend. Poppy flies into the living room window on the night of Isaac’s sixteenth birthday, and (although Isaac doesn’t know this) she is determined to push Isaac out of the closet one way or another. And Isaac definitely doesn’t know that Poppy has been forbidden to return to her Assigned Child’s home -- by her own employers, the Federal Bureau of Imaginary Companionship. 

With this, the play found its two worlds: a small Midwestern town and the other magical world, that of the Imaginary Friends. Like Inside Out or Monsters, Inc., we would see how these worlds butt up against each other – and how a sparkling outsider can interrupt the stasis of the ordinary world. And so, the idea of a teenager dealing with the unannounced return of his Imaginary Friend was the getaway car I needed -- so that no one would realize I’d really written a “coming out” story! 

The core message of The Binding is about the power (and danger) of placing your faith in something you cannot see. The characters in The Binding desperately want something to believe in, so they can survive life’s hardships and the universe’s cruel ambivalence. Whether it’s God or an Imaginary Friend or the cute boy who just moved into the neighborhood, Isaac HAS to find someone—or something-- to believe in. 

The Binding is my most personal play yet—but not because the characters are necessarily based directly on me. I was not really an Isaac, although he has pieces of my history in his life. And I was not his bold love interest Trevor, even though Trevor has more of my personal philosophies and sense of humor.  

The reason The Binding is so personal is not because the plot is autobiographical, but because it represents the core of what I want to put into the world as a writer. I am a playwright who believes that queer characters deserve to inhabit fantastical, romantic, hilarious, heartbreaking, dimensional stories. LGBTQ+ folks have so much more to offer than rote tragedy or bitchy one-liners. We deserve to see ourselves in whimsical fairy tales and religious allegories and teen dramas and any other stories you can imagine… Maybe even one of those six thousand superhero movies! 

And we deserve to see “coming out” stories. Especially weird ones like The Binding. Because every one of those stories is as unique and personal as the magical human telling it. 

EXCLUSIVE Q&A WITH NEW TRWPLAYS AUTHOR, CARLA CHING, ON NOMAD MOTEL AND THE TWO KIDS THAT BLOW SHIT UP

by Katie Stottlemire

PHOTO: CRISTINA GANDOLFO

TRWPlays author Carla Ching was kind enough to share some time with TRW's Katie Stottlemire, and offered a revealing, candid and insightful look into her work. 

...poets, theatermakers, writers and artists aren't our prophets and seers anymore. Maybe they could and should be."

KATIE: Your plays NOMAD MOTEL and THE TWO KIDS THAT BLOW SHIT UP are different in plot and circumstance but explore similar themes. Both plays present complex family relationships and stories of love. In TWO KIDS, we watch a tumultuous relationship that spans over thirty years and in NOMAD MOTEL, we witness two unique family structures and complex feelings of love. How do you approach writing on family and love? 

CARLA: I think F. Scott Fitzgerald said that we return to the same themes again and again because they're the themes/images/characters that haunt us. That keep us up at night. That move us. So I suppose these are the things I return to.  Before I start a play, I may think about a burning question that's bothering me. I kick around that question for a little while and ask myself if it's worth spending time for the 2-5 years it's gonna take to work on the play. Will I get sick of it? Or is there something that I've got to answer for myself in the writing of the play and the Rubix Cube of working on that will get me through to production.  Then, I'll sort of put that away and start with the characters I want to work with. And then, I really [READ MORE]