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James Elden's Playwright's Spotlight
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James Elden's Playwright's Spotlight

Author: James Elden

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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.
68 Episodes
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Send us a Text Message.Barry M. Putt, Jr. beamed into the Playwright's Spotlight from New Jersey to discuss the medium of the audio drama, a throwback and homage to radio plays of the 30s and 40s. We breakdown the differences in elements of traditional playwriting vs the audio drama, i.e., setting up the scene, dialogue, sound effects, music, etc. We also talk about converting plays from stage to audio drama, the process of writing them as well as compensation and the opportunities in that ma...
Send us a Text Message.Playwright Boni B. Alvarez stopped by Playwright's Spotlight during the run of his historic play Mix-Mix: The Filipino Adventures of a German Jewish Boy. In such, we discuss approaching historical figures and events and flashbacks on stage. We also discuss his approach to writing "in threads," being married to material, finding momentum, and addressing and giving feedback. We also explore Julliard, his start in playwriting, lessons in playwriting and having a styl...
Send us a Text Message.David Johann Kim stopped by Playwright's Spotlight to discuss his two new simultaneous running plays and the process in which they were developed, their similarities surrounding the same historical event, and the collaborative process working with two different troupes and directors and his "overnight" success. We also discuss the value of workshops, recording notes opposed to writing them, fighting with structure, the Joint-Stock Method, discoveries from table work, wr...
Send us a Text Message.Michelle Kholos Brooks sat in the Playwright's Spotlight for a wonderful conversation about her approach to the craft. We talked about the rehearsal process with the return of her play Hitler's Tasters in which we touch on writing transitions, the effects of Covid on this particular piece and the different renditions prior to publication as well as working with different casts. We also discuss inspiration to write historical events, playing in different markets, her tra...
Send us a Text Message.Playwright Oliver Mayer joined us before the premiere of his new play Ghost Waltz. Oliver shares his experience writing operas, the medium's influence on his playwriting and the musicality of English as well as the intimacy of theatre and creative control, the after affects of "crashing into the wall. We also explore writing rituals, interruptions, reframing your story, breaking bad habits and the dangers of wit, where to start a scene and "when the mask falls," and wra...
Send us a Text Message.Playwright Tira Palmquist sat in the Playwright's Spotlight while rehearsing her latest play The Body's Midnight. We had a wonderful conversation discussing the benefits of table work, entering the flow state and making discoveries later in the process, the role of the playwright in rehearsals, cutting characters, time between drafts, and the tool of "saving as." We also touch on the different development processes, rookie mistakes, teaching subtext and fixing your flaw...
Send us a Text Message.Joan of Arcadia's Becky Wahlstrom stopped by Playwright's Spotlight while in town from Nashville to help wrap up the rehearsal process for the premiere of her new play A Froggy Becomes. Becky discusses how she started out writing plays after a successful stint in Hollywood. We touch a bit on censorship from theaters, the pros and cons of writing for small budgets, and having a network circle and how it can help, the experience of coming into rehearsals late in the proce...
Send us a Text Message.This week playwright Steve Fife sat in-studio in the Playwright's Spotlight. It was a reflective conversation of his experience in New York and on Broadway in the seventies, his dislike of eighties, and the joyous return in the nineties. We discuss rewriting and updating past works, getting back to theatre's roots, directing your own work (of course) and The Greats, the current acceptance of dark subject matter, and audience feedback at staged readings. We also touch on...
Send us a Text Message.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 and, a new term from me, the New York City H...
Send us a Text Message.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 his growth as an artist and craft of playwr...
Send us a Text Message.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 "flow," finding opportunities, playwriting struggles, th...
Send us a Text Message.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 length of a joke, having jokes stolen, testing ma...
Send us a Text Message.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 the structure of sketch, the Canadien ...
Send us a Text Message.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 task of tackling translating from a cultural pers...
Send us a Text Message.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 a cinematic medium. However, Stan breaks it down beaut...
Send us a Text Message.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 fate of theatre, what makes a good director...
Send us a Text Message.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've decided to release the episode without the firs...
Send us a Text Message.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 structure, working under time constraints and...
Send us a Text Message.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 the benefits of drawing from popular works, the risks o...
Send us a Text Message.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 being spontaneous while dialogue being scripted, and how one's...
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