The setting is the first thing I think about – Where? In my plays the set becomes more than a prop, it becomes as much of an organism of force as the living characters on stage. When I begin to develop a play I think about how I can manipulate the set into consciousness. How important it is to make a creature the characters can interact with – how they can believe in their surrounds – how it can become an interactive being that allows my characters to explore unfamiliar territories within and around themselves. It may house my characters’s lives but also it listens and sometimes it breathes.
I fantasize about how the generations of a family could potentially abstract the internal essence of a place – a house, a bar, a barn. This thing of construction becomes not only a living space in my pages but a space of protection and potentially an active protector when the need arises. It is easy to pin this type of writing down as magical realism but I consider it to be more than than, it’s Appalachian magic. The potential of enchantment is a very real superstition in small town America. We write plays to enchant our audiences so why not add a little fairy tale to reality.
It is important to me to understand my character’s genealogy. They become more dimensional after I am able to write down who their parents were when and where they were born, who their grand relatives were and what they did with their lives. These past lives reflect my characters actions and thoughts – the reasons why I am writing about them now. Maybe I am writing about this week but I want to know how the past century brought these people to my page.
I live in the Appalachia. It is not where I am from but it is where I live, have lived for quite a while. What I have come to find out about the Appalachia is; sometimes it is relentless, sometimes it can be scary, sometimes it can feel like the great unknown, sometimes it can be extremely superstitious, and sometimes it gets extremely cold. But like an onion, Appalachia can change and adapt with the right preparation. Sometimes this beautiful wooded landscape can be sexy, nurturing, flirty, and dangerous in all the right ways. I write about the heartbreaking and tragically comedic life of millennials in Appalachia and the power behind finding a modern identity in this sometimes unforgiving place. I want to bring a contemporary voice into this old conservative wonderland.
Just as important, many of the plots in my plays unforgivingly challenge complicated current hot topics. I surface issues that most Americans are aware of in the media but not faced with. There is a power behind showcasing point of view issues and making them not only media worthy topics but topics that need to be discussed with a personalized in your face performance and audience.