Q&A With Playwright Gino Di Iorio  

New York City-based playwright Gino Di Iorio spent some time with TRW discussing his newly published play, SCAB. This two-hander about the realities of the working class explores an unlikely bond between a hardened factory worker and her young replacement, building to a stunning climax as it shows us the human stories behind opposing points of view. With amateur and professional theatres on a mission to produce topical, thought-provoking work that entertains while it brings about greater understanding, Gino Di Iorio is absolutely an author to know.

by Katie Stottlemire

KATIE STOTTLEMIRE: Your play SCAB follows two line workers, Gilda and Eduardo, over the course of a week of training while a strike is occurring outside the factory building. What inspired you to write this play?

Gino: The play was really born of a kind of hopeless frustration that no one seems to care about working people anymore. The unions are dead in this country. We’ve got 10% union membership in the US, Mexico it’s slightly higher.I grew up in a blue-collar family. My folks were both working people, union people. And I wondered what they would have thought of present-day politics. I can’t imagine they would have fallen for Trump’s fake populism, but I know they would have been upset at how the left has abandoned working people. They felt this during the Clinton years after NAFTA so I can only imagine what they would have thought today. Gilda really has no place to go. She’s been abandoned by the left, she’s been sold out by the union. And Eduardo is only doing what any struggling worker would do—he’s... [MORE]

Cori Thomas


Q&A With Playwright and Director Joe Calarco 

Having just published five new plays at TRW, Joe Calarco took some time to discuss his newest works as well as pieces still in development. Read on to learn about Calarco’s approach to adapting Shakespeare, his passion for theatre education, and how sometimes restructuring your entire play the day before a reading can save your show.

by Katie Stottlemire

KATIE STOTTLEMIRE: A MEASURE OF CRUELTY follows a trio of men, all different ages, over the course of a tense 80-minute play as they grapple with a recent and horrifically brutal incident. What's so compelling about the play is that each of the characters has his own history of violence that he is trying to reconcile or forget. And while there is much regarding masculinity that is explored in this play, the relationship between masculinity and violence is central. Why is this relationship so important to unpack? 

Joe Calarco: The play was a commission from a theater asking me to write about a very specific and violent bullying incident in the town where they were located. The commission dictated that the play had to be written and produced within a year. Well, that is fast. I think the theater initially imagined that it would be a piece of documentary theater. That timeline made that idea impossible on a practical level, and honestly, I wasn’t particularly interested in going that route, but I also wasn’t interested in writing a docudrama where I would put words into the mouths of real people. The theater was very generous in allowing me to approach the subject matter however I wanted. A lot of my work deals with definitions of masculinity, and it wasn’t until I started to look at the incident through that lens that the play cracked open for me. Depending on who you are, it’s either very easy or virtually impossible to ignore the fact that we are a country constantly engaged in military actions around the world, if not full-out war itself, and I asked myself, “If we so easily ask young Americans to engage in violence around the world, why are we so shocked when it happens in our own backyards?” Now, military service and violence aren’t determined by gender [READ]

JHW

If You Want To Be Comfortable, Don’t Get On Robert O’Hara’s Rollercoaster 

Tony Award-nominated playwright and director Robert O’Hara had an in-depth exchange discussing his work and artistry with TRW. Read the exclusive interview here.

by Katie Stottlemire

The world sees me differently than they see other people, and so therefore, I am required to see the world differently than other people.

KATIE STOTTLEMIRE: You grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, where you were heavily involved in your high school theatre program, as well as corralling your many cousins for impromptu performances in the yard during family events. Did these foundational years in theatre impact your approaches in professional rooms today?  

ROBERT O’HARA: When I was in high school theater, or when I was making up stuff in the backyard of my grandmother's house with my cousins, it wasn't because I thought I was going to have a career in theater. It was just extracurricular. It was just fun. So, it impacted my professional career in that it's very important to me that we keep the fun in the process. Especially when dealing with difficult themes and characters, a sense of play is always necessary coupled with an investment in craft.   

I think many people, because they were in a high school theater program or because they did a lot of singing and dancing and playing around in their backyard or with family members, think that those experiences equate to them doing this for a living professionally: and that is simply not true. Everyone does not have the talent to be a professional artist. Everyone has creativity, but that doesn’t always translate into artistic talent.  

Just like if I liked to play sports in school doesn’t mean I can be a professional player. Or your being in the high school band doesn’t mean you’re going to be a concert pianist. Many people see being an Artist as a Hobby and that eventually you’ll get a “real job” … but it’s... [MORE]

Cori Thomas


Playwright Beaufield Berry on Channeling Her Ancestors Through Playwriting

"We all have stories to share, and the accessibility of creating live art, storytelling, the act of theater lives in all of us."

Beaufield Berry is many things: playwright, screenwriter, mom, teacher, and novelist. Above all, Beaufield is a teller of stories and a playwright you should know. Her play IN THE UPPER ROOM follows an intergenerational African American family living under one roof and is based on the true stories of her family. Read on to hear the chilling experience of writing IN THE UPPER ROOM, her experiences in transformational theatre, and the advice Beaufield has for artists who are struggling to feel seen (she’s been there, too.)

by Katie Stottlemire

KATIE STOTTLEMIRE: IN THE UPPER ROOM is based on your own life. The characters even share your last name, Berry. What was the process like of writing such an emotionally intense play based on your own experiences?

BEAUFIELD BERRY: Technically the play predates me. It involves the lives of my family, though! My mother inspired Josephine, John and Jan are my grandparents, Eddie is my beloved great grandfather who helped raise me, and Rose is the great grandmother who passed before I was born. The original process of writing was lightning quick. It was supernatural for me. I wrote late at night and their voices were so alive in me that I swore they were in the room. They wanted their (our) story shared and told; I wrote 100 pages in three nights. It has been emotional. It’s been emotional to see my mother's reaction to seeing her younger self alive again. It’s also been affirming as I hear the feedback from the people who LIVED it, who ask me how I got it so accurate. And then I know that the experience of co-writing it with my ancestors was real...[READ]

JHW

In conversation with Abby Rosebrock

After having three of her plays newly published, Abby Rosebrock met up with TRW at Drama Book Shop in New York City. While there, she signed copies of BLUE RIDGE, DIDO OF IDAHO, and SINGLES IN AGRICULTURE, and sat down to unpack the complexities in her work, from how hard women are on each other to navigating the expectations forced onto us, and how it’s important to learn to nurture your intuition instead of focusing too much on what others think your work should be.
Abby Rosebrock's plays examine relationships from unexpected angles. She writes about damaged characters who may seem broken, but her expertly crafted words peel back the layers to reveal new depths and strengths. Even in the darkly comedic, off-kilter situations in which her characters find themselves, Rosebrock's plays remain big-hearted and uplifting.

by Katie Stottlemire

Katie Stottlemire: So, we’re here at Drama Book Shop, and you’re signing copies of three recently published plays. How are you feeling?

Abby Rosebrock: It’s thrilling. I feel so honored to have my work homed here, and to have DIDO OF IDAHO chosen as a monthly feature.

KS: As it should be! DIDO OF IDAHO was the first play of yours I read, and I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. And when I did, I had to take a few moments to digest.

Abby: Wow, thank you.

KS: I read all three of your plays the same way, actually. I would start and not be able to tear myself away until I’d finished. They’re all such visceral reads, and the characters are all so truthful and fully dimensional. I think it really speaks to your abilities as a playwright to be able to write characters I feel like I know after only reading the words they speak on a page.

I want to talk specifically about Nora, from DIDO OF IDAHO. We are introduced to Nora while she is having a drunken rendezvous with her secret lover, who’s married to a woman named Crystal. Then, after Nora passes out, Crystal wakes her up, and the audience goes on a wild journey with Nora throughout... [READ THE ARTICLE]

Cori Thomas

Pulitzer Prize winner, Lucille Lortel award-winner, recent recipient of the 2023 Obie Award for Playwriting, and now Tony Award nominated: Martyna Majok’s legacy has only just begun.

Her work is urgent, exploring pressing stories of the American experience that demand to be told.

 Although she is deep in the throes of writing the musical adaptation of The Great Gatsby (with music by Florence Welch and Thomas Bartlett), Martyna found some time to spend with TRW, discussing her play SANCTUARY CITY and revealing some of her writing process.
“As for how I choose which stories to pursue, it feels more like listening to which story pursues me.”

by Katie Stottlemire

KATIE STOTTLEMIRE: SANCTUARY CITY follows two characters, B and G, over the course of their friendship. Together (and sometimes separately), they face the challenges of living as an undocumented person in the United States. In a New York Stage Review by Elyse Gardner, SANCTUARY CITY is said to “transcend politics as only the best and most humane art can.” How did you approach the creation of this story, and what was important to you as you crafted B and G’s narrative?

MARTYNA MAJOK: I tried to approach this story, and most of my plays, from the human and the personal. The characters in my plays are often loose composites of people I know or have been, combinations of aspects of myself and people I grew up with. And the political is an active given in their lives. History and policy dictate certain circumstances and challenges to their lives and futures in this country. As does class and race and limitations of means. And the reasons for and way in which the immigrant characters may have come to America, where and how they’re living, the help of their communities here or lack thereof. The political isn’t really separate from these characters’ lives because they’re dealing with its limitations and dangers on the daily. But the characters are also their very specific...[READ]

JHW

Cori Thomas, author of LOCKDOWN, talks about the realities of her volunteer work in prisons and how the vulnerability of the incarcerated people she met inspired her to put her own life story into the play. Read on to learn about Cori’s past, who inspired the characters in LOCKDOWN, and more.

"It was as if everyone that I met at the prison shared their DNA with me which ends up woven throughout the fabric of the play. The men were all so gracious and open, I felt it only right that I put myself in the play also.”

by Katie Stottlemire

KATIE STOTTLEMIRE: LOCKDOWN centers completely around the experience of an imprisoned Black man, Wise, and the volunteer who works with him, Ernie. Many people may be unaware of the actual lived experience of those who spend most of their lives imprisoned. As a volunteer at San Quentin State Prison, you likely have a greater understanding of the lives of the imprisoned. Did volunteering change your understanding of the lives of the imprisoned?
CORI THOMAS: Absolutely. I don’t have lived experience, but I can say with confidence that, by now, I know more about the day-to-day routines and struggles of the incarcerated than many. I have volunteered for many years now and so I have had the opportunity to observe and get to know not just the people but their details. My initial introduction into the prison was with a podcast producer who had hired me to write narration. (The podcast did not even end up happening.) Walking into the prison for the first time, I had no experience or understanding about anything beyond what I had read and seen in the media.


I had low expectations about the caliber of people I would meet and left that day ashamed of myself. Meeting the men there and seeing how inaccurately they and their lives have been portrayed made me want very much to... [READ THE ARTICLE]
Cori Thomas

TRW Plays Q & A with Jones Hope Wooten!

The trio of writers share their story with TRW Plays

by Katie Stottlemire

Jones Hope Wooten, also known as “America’s Playwrights,” is a writing trio you definitely know and love. Their hilarious comedies have had thousands of productions across the world and in all fifty states. Their amazing and popular work doesn’t stop at the theatre—it begins there. As writers of TV shows, sitcoms, and feature films, Jones Hope Wooten has lots of knowledge and excitement to share.

This brilliant trio of writers has three plays, with more to come, available for immediate licensing at TRW: BUDDY BRO BUBBA DUDE: MEN IN TWISTED SHORTS, HONEY SUGAR LADY DOLL: WOMEN IN BODACIOUS SHORTS, and LICKETY SPLIT: WOMEN AND MEN IN OUTRAGEOUS SHORTS.

Here’s a slice of their journey as a writing team and their process of working together.

"Our goal as playwrights has always been to bring joy to others. What has taken us by surprise is how much joy others have brought to us.” -Jones Hope Wooten

KATIE STOTTLEMIRE: Let’s start with your origin story. How did the three of you meet, and when did you know you would become a writing trio?

JESSIE JONES: Jones Hope Wooten started in Texas... well, at least that’s where the Jones Hope part began. Nick’s first play was awarded a production in Austin and he was searching high and low for his leading lady. So—

NICHOLAS HOPE: I thought it wise to start at the top and got my script to Jessie, who just happened to be the leading actress in Austin. When she finally read it, she was all in and that’s how it all began.

JESSIE: We later actually became part of the staff of a thriving community theatre in Austin, eventually deciding to move to New York to pursue theatre, of course. After that it was onward to Hollywood to... [READ]

JHW

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 ...[READ MORE]

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]