PCS Blog

Our Playwrights’ Advice

Posted by Jesse Turner | 22 July 2014

Yesterday, our playwrights, Promising and not, (just kidding! They’re all great!) joined each other for lunch at Cupcake Jones. Our Promising Playwrights, Lindsay Spear, Daniel Crumrine, Luna Koenig, Caroline Fenty, Nickey Olson, and Caleb Sohigia,  had the chance to ask questions of our professional playwrights, Adam Bock, Penny Penniston, Tommy Smith, and Mat Smart.


Here are 17 pieces of advice from our fabulous playwrights:

1. “You can look at a blank page and go anywhere. Especially for women…you can live all these different lives and be all these different people.” – Penny Penniston

2. “See and read plays, good and bad!” – Tommy Smith

3. “To really make it, to be successful, [writing] has to be essential for you…It is asking questions that are worth asking.” – Adam Bock

Adam Bock and Daniel Crumrine

4. “Don’t write apocalypse plays.” – Tommy Smith (In reference to a questions about how our playwrights come up with the topics and themes of their plays. Tommy goes on to quote Wayne Gretzky, referring to common themes in recent plays and films, “Don’t go where the puck is, go where the puck will be.”)

5. “[Playwrighting] is trying to communicate beauty.” – Mat Smart

6. “Art helps us see how extraordinary the everyday is…make it important, make it mean something.”- Penny Penniston

Promising Playwrights Lindsay Spear and Caleb Sohigian

7. When asked about the often lonely process of playwrighting, Penny Penniston responds, “You have to find something meaningful in the journey, for you.”

8. “Use the people you work with to make the play…[the play] has to interact with someone before it can be done…when I see a play, it’s so much more three dimensional, it’s thrilling.” – Adam Bock, commenting on the difference between reading and watching a play.

9. “Three days ago, I hated my play. But that feeling leads to a step, to growth. Trust that instinct.” – Mat Smart

Caleb Sohigian and Tommy Smith

10. “What’s the point, at this point in history, to not try to write a masterpiece?” – Tommy Smith

11. “It’s like dating, ‘do I wanna go all the way with this play?'” – Penny Penniston, in response to being asked how she knows her play is worthwhile when it is in its early stages.

12. “Throw away that ‘I’m shy and can’t do it!’ and just do it!” – Adam Bock

Daniel Crumrine and Mat Smart

14. “You get to have a voice. For however many minutes people will sit and listen to you. How rare is that? How great is that? Hopefully, you have something to say.” – Adam Bock

15. “If you try to write for someone else, it will never work for you.” – Adam Bock

16. “There’s something radical about simple, especially theater. Sometimes, something as simple as not getting kissed can be heartbreaking.” – Adam Bock

17. And, of course, “Don’t get Lyme disease.” – Tommy Smith

(L to R) Penny Penniston, Caroline Fenty, Adam Bock and Daniel Crumrine

Dont' miss the Promising Playwrights kicking off the JAW Big Weekend with a special night of staged readings of new scripts from our six Portland-area high school playwrights.

Thursday, July 24 at 8 p.m.
Ellyn Bye Studio

Jesse Turner is one of the festival assistants this year at JAW. She is a rising sophomore at Portland State University where she is studying acting and playwriting. Jesse is a 2011 Promising Playwright alum and wrote a Tony Award-winning play. Just kidding. But it was kind of funny.

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