James Elden's Playwright's Spotlight

James Elden's Playwright's Spotlight

Playwright Spotlight features a new playwright every episode to discuss the tools of the trade and solutions to the obstacles we face as writers in hopes of making us all better and more successful playwrights.

Episodes

February 21, 2024 75 mins

Catya McMullen stopped by Playwright's Spotlight during the run of her new play Arrowhead which runs through March 4, 2024. In this episode, we talk about surviving lockdowns as an artist, what makes a good writer, reflecting life on stage, stage plays as love letters. We also discuss what comes after the initial idea, writing from a personal place and putting away the constraints, laughing your way into a deeper conversation ...

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Had the pleasure of chatting with playwright and son of actress Eileen Heckart (Bus Stop), Luke Yankee, about growing up in the world of Hollywood and his journey to be coming a playwright. It's a wonderful interview that touches on his relationships with not only the Hollywood greats but also the pioneers of the theatre (including Steven Schwartz, Beth Henley, David Lindsay-Abaire, and David Henry Hwang) and how they affected...

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Donna Hoke sat in the Playwright's Spotlight to discuss her journey into playwriting. In this interview we touch on her involvement in the Official Playwrights of Facebook, her start as playwright from a journalism background and learning on the fly, working in a smaller market and "owning your home town" as well as building relationships and putting in the time. We also talk about being commissioned, finding that &q...

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In this episode of Playwright's Spotlight, long time friend and standup Henry Phillips stopped by to discuss another aspect of writing for the stage - Standup Comedy. Henry shares his origins into the craft and business of standup, his approach to comedy and knowing when you've got the right joke, the use of Twitter as a testing ground, and how to segue into the next joke. We also talk about voice vs character, the ideal ...

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This was an absolute treat and a dream come true. Paul Greenberg from the sketch comedy troop The Vacant Lot honored me with ninety minutes of his time to come and talk shop. We discuss his pathway to success while performing onstage and then being cancelled in Canada as well as auditioning for SNL. We touch on what makes a good idea, how something always has to go wrong, and how a sketch must have a good ending. We also talk about...

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We're back after a brief hiatus due to a guest cancelling, the holidays, and me feeling a bit under the weather, but our third season is still off with a bang. If there was a fascinating episode to drop after being away, this is IT. International playwright Ren Powell visited remotely with an aspect of playwriting and theatre I couldn't have been prepared for. We discuss going international, cultural differences, and the ...

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Season 3, Episode 1. - If someone told me how powerful of a conversation I'd have been in store for prior to sitting down with Stan Mayer, I'm not sure I would've believed them, nor could I have prepared myself for the conversation we would have, and certainly not from a playwriting perspective. What proceeds is an in-depth and personal insight into war and how it translates to the stage where most would place it in ...

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FINAL EPISODE OF SEASON 2! We made it another year. In this season ending episode, we spend time speaking with Richard Vetere. Richard reached out to me on Instagram and voiced interest in being on an episode of Playwright's Spotlight. After looking over his credentials, Richard certainly had insight to offer, and as always, I learned something new. In this episode, we discuss the evolution of grants, the current state and the...

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We've dug into the vaults of Playwright's Spotlight for this episode. Originally recorded on February 8th, 2023, I interviewed playwright Brynn Thayer a few weeks before the world premiere of Let Me In. Unfortunately due to a software update, the audio was unusable and the pod-recorder used for backup was not started on time. Brynn and I tried to find a time to rerecord but were unable to due to schedule conflicts, so I&a...

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Another episode touching on aspects not featured in past episodes. Today playwright Anna Ouyang Moench sits in the Playwright's Spotlight and, thankfully, after botching her name twice, she was nice enough to stick around. In this interview, we discuss the benefits of writers groups, the pursuit of playwriting, and developing a play during rehearsal through a nontraditional writing approach. We also discuss the techniques of s...

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Playwright and parodist, Dean O'Carroll, sat in the Playwright's Spotlight this week. We discuss his origins as a playwright and the knowledge gained from a Bachelor's Degree in theatre to an MFA in playwriting and the differences from learning from lecture opposed to the practicalities of writing and the challenges he overcame including pushing through doubt. We touch on the process of writing farce and parody and t...

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Playwright Garry Michael Kluger stopped by to sit in the Playwright's Spotlight to talk about all things playwriting and also touched on its from film and television. Having been a three-time semi-finalist, we discuss the process of and when to submit for the O'neill's and whether it's ever okay to pay to submit your work. We also touch on how playwrights one has never met can serve as a mentor, conversation bei...

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Playwright Howard Skora stopped by Playwright's Spotlight, and what a fascinating interview he delivered. What I thought would be another insightful look into the craft of playwriting, turned into an unsuspecting history lesson about the psychologist Sigmund Freud and quite a few unknown stories about his life. Not only does Howie educate me about the all things Freud, we delve into the stakes in comedy and playing against opp...

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What a fascinating discussion. Playwright Wendy Graf sat in the Playwright's Spotlight and shared her experiences throughout her career including the effects of Covid, plays vs screenplays and how the translation of the latter can to stop the action on stage, the "secret" of success in playwriting, the concept of small vs large markets, and how to approach requested rewrites as a beginning and established playwright....

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We are back!!! Sorry for missing a week, folks. Had some audio issues with this episode and needed a little time to figure out the best approach. 99% of the audio glitches were on my end, and my guest offers some amazing insights that I didn't want to risk losing by reshooting the episode or losing context by editing out the question. All said, John Patrick Bray and I delve into some great topics and themes including - storyte...

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I always find something to learn in an episode of Playwright's Spotlight. However, Bernardo Cubria's insight to playwriting was nonstop. Every minute turned another corner of knowledge. His approach and insight to playwriting was intimidating that I'm not sure I could keep up - from a naivety to submitting plays that could lead to success to paying for opportunities to extracting knowledge from workshops. Bernardo sh...

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Vanessa Stewart graces this episode of Playwright's Spotlight. Taking a biopic musical approach to her playwriting, Vanessa features historical figures in most of her pieces, delving into depths of research and focusing on the minute nuances of their lives, starting off with the jazz couple Louis and Keely, and silent film legend Buster Keaton. In our discussion, her writing compulsion and choice of taking the musical route wi...

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Playwright and publisher Jonathan Dorf sits in the Playwright's Spotlight and shines a light on the publishing aspect of playwriting with his experience as co-founder of YouthPLAYS touching on some of the criteria they look for as publishers of plays for younger audiences. We also touch on what makes powerful writing, in-depth characters through the tension of opposites, and the difference between internal and external conflic...

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The charming Bob DeRosa swings by Playwright's Spotlight fresh off the relaunch of his play - Gifted. Bob shares his experiences with starting in sketch writing, its benefits in learning to write quickly and the basic rules of structure, writing dialogue that's easy vs dialogue that's bad, and stories as transformation machines for the character. We also touch upon the depth of playwriting, finding your community, th...

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Playwright Kathryn Keats visited Playwright's Spotlight to talk about her solo beat musical, The Hummingbird, and the tragic events that led her into going into hiding, coming out on the other side, and the development of the piece, and the catharsis of playwriting. We also discuss the importance of knowing your material, structure in performance art and what it looks like on the page, the difficulty in defining beat poetry, p...

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