Patricia Connelly’s new play Princess Margaret opens September 17, 2015 at the Trinidad Theatre. She is an award-winning playwright and director. Her plays have been presented at the Kennedy Center’s Page-to-Stage Festival and have been produced in Washington, D.C., and New Mexico. Her play, The Penny or the Stone, won the Robert Bone Memorial Playwriting Award at the Dallas Theatre Center. Other full-length plays include: What Happens in This Town, All the Sins of My Past Life, Harriet, and Night Sky. She has taught playwriting and theater and produced new play festivals at the University of New Mexico. She has a MA degree in Theater from the University of New Mexico and she is a student in the MFA Creative Writing (Playwriting) program at Goddard College. She is also a member of the Dramatists Guild and the Playwrights Forum of Washington, D.C. She is the founder of Thelma Theatre: thelmatheatre.com. Follow her @PatriciaConnel7 @ThelmaTheatre.
What can you say in a play you can’t say in another medium?
Good question. I think it is the action, the immediacy, the live performance aspect of theater that makes me want to write plays. A playwright can show something, can make something come alive in real time. I started out wanting to write novels, but once I experienced what it was like to write for the stage, I never thought about writing novels again.
What type of theatre most excites you?
… serious drama dealing with political or social issues, specifically issues that affect women. I love plays with complex characters who are passionate about their beliefs, plays where the drama is intense and plays where there are no easy answers. I also get excited when I see a play that makes me look at an issue from an unexpected point of view.
What starts a play moving in your imagination?
Usually I hear something or read something and I have an immediate flash of “aha — there’s a play there.” My plays always start from that initial moment.
Describe your writing day – do you have a favorite writing place?
My writing day varies. Sometimes, I don’t write until late at night. I do not have a favorite writing place — except Taos, New Mexico — where my favorite time is very early in the morning. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter where I am, as long as I have a pen and notebook or computer.
WOMEN’S VOICES THEATER FESTIVAL
September 17 – October 4, 2015
at Trinidad Theatre
1358 Florida Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002
Details and Tickets
How did you choose this play to debut at the Festival?
I chose this play because it is time for it to see the light of day. It started out as a one-act several years ago and then I realized there was more to the story and wrote the first draft of what is now the current play. The play has been rewritten and read many times. It is time to see it on stage.
What female playwrights have influenced your writing?
So many — Caryl Churchill, Naomi Wallace, Marsha Norman, Paula Vogel, Lynn Nottage, Theresa Rebeck, Emily Mann, Darrah Cloud, Deb Brevoort — to name just a few. It would be difficult to say in a few words, however, how each one has influenced me. I’ve naturally paid attention to the female playwrights, read their work and directed plays by female playwrights when I’ve had the opportunity to direct. I learn by watching and studying how they do what they do.
What’s missing from theatre today?
More women as producers, directors, designers, and playwrights. Also missing are audience members and donors who are willing to demand more plays by women on the main stages of our theaters.
What are you working on now?
I am working on two different plays, one is set in West Africa and I’m calling it Around the Snake Turn. The other play is still a rough draft without a title. It is generally about a character caught between family, religion, and conservative politics, on the one hand, and her own needs and desires, on the other.
Answer this: “If I weren’t a playwright, I would be …”
… a director or film-maker.
Anything you would like to add?
I’m excited about the Women’s Voices Festival. I am honored to be a part of it and humbled to be among so many great playwrights and theater artists. I hope you will come see Princess Margaret and support the other playwrights who are part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival.