Bekah Brunstetter hails from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and currently lives in Los Angeles. She is an alumni of the CTG Writers Group, Primary Stages writes group, Ars Nova Play Group, The Playwright’s Realm, and the Women’s Project Lab. She has previously written for MTV (Underemployed; I Just want my Pants Back) and is currently a Story Editor on ABC Family’s Switched at Birth. BA UNC Chapel Hill; MFA in Dramatic Writing from the New School for Drama. Flying V is producing The Oregon Trail, which opens September 4 at The Writer’s Center.
Why are you a playwright?
I’ve always written, since I was a kid – stories and poems mostly when I young, but when I wrote my first play, I was hooked. I love how it’s both solitary, like when you’re writing the play, and then collaborative once you start to figure it out with actors and a director. I deeply value both alone time and time with other humans, and I love how playwriting gives me both. Plays are immediate and demand to be watched. They can’t be paused. You can immerse an audience in a moment, and that is great.
What type of theatre most excites you?
Theater that is magical in some way, but is grounded in truth.
What starts a play moving in your imagination?
A character stuck in a huge moment – something deeply awkward or painful or wonderful. I love to juxtapose so I then usually stick that huge moment against some completely opposite character or place, and thus the play begins!
Describe your writing day.
I write new things at night when my brain and heart are most active, and rewrite during the day when I’m most organized and alert. I’m very deadline oriented, so I just work towards whatever is due next, or just abandon my obligations if I have a new idea – productive procrastination!
How did you choose this play to debut at the Festival?
I didn’t – I shared Oregon Trail with Flying V a few years back, when Jason (Artistic Director) asked to read some of my plays to get to know my work – and he picked it. Hey, thanks Jason!
What female playwrights have influenced your writing?
Definitely Sarah Ruhl. She started out as a poet, and that was some of my first writing, too, so I really love the attention she pays to language. Also, in her play Melancholy Play, a character turns into an Almond. I mean. What’s not to love?
WOMEN’S VOICES THEATER FESTIVAL
THE OREGON TRAIL
Sept 4 – 20
The Writer’s Center
4508 Walsh Street
Bethesda, MD 20815
Details and Tickets
What’s missing from theatre today?
This isn’t true of all plays, but from a lot that I see and read – I feel like I’m missing a sense of OPTIMISM. I feel like there is so much to be terrified of these days, and the world is constantly shouting at us how dark it is – I’m thinking a lot lately about how, as a person who writes plays, I have a responsibility to provide something that is at least a bit uplifting. Dark and honest, sure, but something that provides Hope, something that highlights what’s good about being alive in the world.
What are you working on now?
I’m writing a play for South Coast Rep about an older married couple – the wife goes in for a routine procedure, goes to heaven, comes back to earth, tells her husband about it, and he doesn’t believe her. I’m also about to start a new writer’s group in LA and am planning on starting a play about Paula Deen.
Answer this: “If I weren’t a playwright, I would be … “
I would 100% be decorating cakes and hopefully people would be paying me to do so.