“Astonishingly talented. With my experiences working on Broadway, I have worked with the best and I believe that Davis is one of them.” Austin Pendleton
I fell in love with theatre when I saw the musical Oliver. First of all, all those boys dancing together, magic to my eight-year old eyes, but most of all is I fell in love with the set, all those moving parts and have been obsessed with sets ever since. I have somewhat bothered by these stripped down productions with white blank walls as a set but lately, things have been changing.
I am starting to want to explore immersive theatre and the way I, or rather, a set designer, could stage one of my plays and also getting very interested in audience interactive theatre. I used to hate it when anything snapped an audience out of the day dream of the story and be reminded of themselves but recently I’ve been wondering, what if they are a part of the story. As an actor, I studied for two years improvisation at UCB and loved it but finally realized my forte is really writing but now I’m wondering if elements of improvisation could be utilized in a production.
I know there were times when improvisors would act out furniture, ridiculous, right, only right for improv, but what if it was a part of the production? What if actors suddenly switched characters, like they do in dreams, especially since theatre is a dream of a kind. Anyway, my mind is suddenly open and excited about what might happen!
My story as a playwright began when I was in fourth grade and my parents gave me a gift of a light blue typewriter. I couldn’t figure out why they gave it to me but I went up to my bedroom and wrote a eight page play about a couple, Jack and Judy getting married and then getting divorced. My parents, Jack and Judy, who were fighting over getting a divorce thought it was amazing and it somehow landed in the hands of my elementary school teacher. For some reason I could never fathom, the school had me and a girl go to all these classes and perform it, with all the maturity that only children of that age group have.
One day a friend asked me if I had any play that he and an actress could do for his theatre company to show them their talent. I told him he could use this silly play I wrote called Super Romantic!, actually a rewrite of my first play. The next day the phone rang, and it was the theatre company asking me to become a member of their Playwrights Unit. Me? A playwright? The thought had never even crossed my mind. Then they did a full production of that play as a curtain raiser for an Author Miller play. It was a little intimidating. Kind of like being the opening act for Elvis. Then something happened. Opening night, I was hiding backstage when I heard the audience all burst into an enormous laugh. And then another and another and another and it struck me that had caused all these people to laugh and in an instant, I was addicted to playwriting
Over the years I had many plays produced and received much love for them. I’ve had the good fortune to have one my play Vagabond optioned by The Farm ( we grow theatre) and was paid a decent amount of money. My play Falling Awake was nominated for Most Outstanding New Play by The Midtown International Theatre Festival, where several of my plays were produced along with my play Ticket to Eternity at the New York International Fringe Festival.
I went to NYU Tisch School of the Arts where I earned my BFA & MFA in Dramatic Writing, where I got to study with the brilliant Gordon Farrell, playwright of The Lifespan of a Fact and author of The Playwrights Vision, which I have read about forty times. I used notes for his class for the fifteen years I taught playwriting at Marymount Manhattan College. I was accepted into the The Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit stayed for 5 years. The very best part of that experience was starting my long term collaboration with director William Roudebush who is beyond devoted to my writing and to whom I will always have an infinite gratitude.
I admit I’m a little addicted to rewriting and cutting and will rewrite up until whatever director I’m working with demands that it’s too close to opening night to give the actors new scenes. They say the only way to get a playwright to stop rewriting is to take his computer away from him and I confess that seems to true with me, also. Writing is such a transcendent experience for me and seems to come from a Power much greater than myself.
However, once you get into production, for me, then it’s time to step back and let the vision of the director and the actors take over, often discovering that there is much more to my plays than I realized. I usually only attend rehearsals as long as I am still rewriting. After that, I prefer to let their communal vision take over and find out how what I wrote comes to life in the hands of other Artists.
One of the reasons I write comedy, especially as of late these little ten-minute screenplays is I once had a therapist and I said to him, “Why is it everywhere I go, I’m always making other people laugh and I’m always crying?” He said, “That’s because you have no sense of humor about yourself.” Last time I ever saw him! But it got me to thinking, he did have a point (if you know him don’t tell him) but when I write I’m funny and at the time, I was going through a minor nervous breakdown. OK, a major nervous breakdown. And I just started to keep a diary so when something would happen that would traumatize me, I would be thinking how I could make it funny in writing. That journal eventually got turned into a one-man play (Sleep At Your Own Risk) and was produced many times, published and most important, created a lot of laughter and touched people’s hearts.
Now I often take a part of myself and exaggerate it to make it a comedy. For example, I worry chronically about my husband’s well being and health, which turned into Chronic Love, the romantic comedy thriller about a serial killer with an anxiety disorder so bad that he had to murder all his girlfriends to protect them for the world. Uh, speed bump. I write to touch people’s hearts and souls and create as much laughter as possible.