Gabrielle Fulton’s Uprising is receiving a rolling premiere, opening at MetroStage on September 17. 2015. She was the 2011-2012 National New Play Network Playwright-in-Residence at Atlanta’s Horizon Theatre Company. Her directorial debut, Ir/Reconcilable, was selected as an HBO® Short Film Competition Finalist at the 2014 American Black Film Festival. Fulton, who earned her B.A. at Columbia University and her M.F.A. at Northwestern, is a member of the Dramatists Guild. More at www.gabriellefulton.com. Follow her on Twitter @writegab
Why are you a playwright?
To move you.
To connect the past with the present, me to myself, reality and meaning … us to them.
To come to terms with the ubiquity of pain.
To dis-entrench myself.
To say the poorly verbalized “thinks I think”.
What can you say in theatre that you can’t say in another medium? Why?
Theatre allows you to say, “Hey, where is your agency on this subject matter?” A play is incomplete until the audience is there to contribute their laughter, sighs, cries, and understanding (or lack thereof). By acknowledging the role of the audience to be that final piece of a play’s puzzle, theatre has this innate call and response quality in its liveness that creates intimacy while initiating self-reflection. I might add that, it seems to me, in theatre the prospect of an African American playwright presenting fully realized characters of African descent is much greater than on the small or big screen. And so, in theatre you can say look at these complex Black characters who are reflections of people and experiences that represent universal truths and the human condition.
What type of theatre most excites you?
What starts a play moving in your imagination?
An unforgettable character. With Sal, Uprising’s main character, I could lose myself in contemplation of her all day.
WOMEN’S VOICES THEATER FESTIVAL
September `7 – October 25, 2015
1201 N. Royal St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Details and Tickets
Describe your writing day.
I wish I had an idyllic experience to report, but the reality is my days are quite often a tortured existence. Filled with hair pulling, gut-punching, and sometimes even writhing in pain until one measly sentence plops on the page. It’s exhausting. But no, in all seriousness, my writing days are usually overnight. I get started around 10pm when my family is preparing for bed and work through the night. Then I take my daughter to school at 7am, come home and crash.
Do you have a favorite writing place?
My bed. Sad but true. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.
How did you choose this play to debut at the Festival?
I cannot take credit. It was my phenomenal director Tom Jones’ suggestion. Tom and I collaborated in the inaugural Alliance Theatre Reiser Atlanta Artists Lab with Uprising. He and Carolyn Griffin of MetroStage have a longstanding artistic relationship and decided to take a chance on this work. The only thing I chose was to respond with a wholehearted, YES!
What female playwrights have influenced your writing and how?
The respect with which Zora Neale Hurston expressed the language and stories of the African American experience influenced my great appreciation for the Black English vernacular. Lorraine Hansberry, for the integrity with which she presented the existential challenges of being an African American in the United States. Ntozake Shange for her iconoclastic storytelling through choreo-poem. I would be remiss if I did not mention Toni Morrison, who in addition to being a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, is also a playwright. The dialogue in Ms. Morrison’s novels ripples with theatricality. I am a huge fan because of her attention to detail and love for the subject matter that emanates from the page.
What’s missing from theatre today?
Overflowing audiences … people beating down the doors to get tickets.
What are you working on now?
A neat little light-hearted play that explores emotional dissonance in relationships and the Western roots of homophobia in Africa.
Answer this: “If I weren’t a playwright, I would be … “
Country-hopping as a teacher of English abroad.
Anything you would like to add?
The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plains. And …
Come see Uprising! Being a part of the D.C. Women’s Voices Theater Festival at MetroStage is an honor for me. To share this platform with other women dramatists is a privilege. It is my hope that we all play a role in building greater awareness for even more women playwrights. The arts become more relevant in all our lives when we all have our say.