Ashley Amidon won second place in MDC’s 10 minute play contest for 2015. Her play. That’s That, is being read at Mead Theatre Lab September 11 and 12, 2015.
Why are you a playwright?
There is something so special about theater to me – a play is such a transitory medium. You have a performance, and then it’s done, and even if you do it again the next night it will never be exactly as it was before. The audience can’t rewind or rewatch – but it can affect people so deeply and profoundly because they are experiencing it in the moment. For me, writing was a natural extension of the acting I’ve done since I was 7 – for just a minute, I can make the audience feel something together. It’s really magical to be a part of.
What type of theatre most excites you?
I like theater that is thought provoking – whether it’s visually, technically, or textually. I want to walk away from a play – and hope people walk away from mine! – thinking about what they saw. My favorite type of play is one I am still thinking about weeks later.
What starts a play moving in your imagination?
It really depends. One of the full length scripts I’m working on now started with a frustration with the traditional romantic comedy, where you have the perfect and attractive leads that fall in love. I always identified with the sarcastic best friend, and so i’m (trying!) to work out a love story between the “sidekick” characters – a little more biting and sharp than your average love story.
I’ve also got a short play up at OPENSTAGE on Sept 25th that is based on real actors I’ve interacted with while costuming, and some of the crazy things I’ve had to deal with there: people refusing to believe the measurement I take, or trying to costume themselves in things totally not appropriate by a hundred years. Or the man that randomly took off his pants when I just needed his shirt size! I swear, it’s funnier than I’m making it sound.
WOMEN’S VOICES THEATER FESTIVAL
THAT’S THAT (one of the 10 minute play readings)
September 11 – 12, 2015
MDC – McLean Drama Company
at Mead Theatre Lab
916 G Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Details and Tickets
Do you have a favorite writing place?
Somewhere quiet, with classical music, and preferably a glass of wine. By day I’m a lobbyist, and I do a lot of theatrical costuming in the evenings, so late at night is pretty much the only time I have to write.
How did you choose this play to debut at the Festival?
I entered the MDC contest on a total whim, honestly. I had directed a couple of the winning shows last year, so I was familiar with the contest. It’s judged blind, but I had this idea for a short play literally two days before the deadline, so I figured there was no way I could win! Within 48 hours I had the idea, wrote it, had two friends edit it, and mailed it off. Apparently I’m the only person to ever place (I came in 2nd) and direct one of their shows, so I’m feeling really honored.
Which female playwrights have influenced your writing and how?
I’d actually say it’s more the absence of female playwrights. I’m an actress too, and so many of the plays I’ve seen, read, and acted in the last few years have been by men and featured very flat female characters. Women have been reduced to these stereotypes of “ingenue” or “mother” – always in relation to what they want from or can give to a man. It’s been pretty frustrating. Not all plays are like that of course, but it seems like I’ve run into a lot of them lately.
What’s missing from theatre today?
New plays in local theaters! Seriously, how many times have we seen some of the same revivals at area theaters? There are so many talented playwrights out there (both men and women) that I wish we’d see some fresh new works interspersed with the classics. So many theaters are afraid to take a chance on untested plays and playwrights, which is a shame.
What are you working on now?
Two full length scripts actually! My real passion project is a reimagining of A Christmas Carol set in America in the 1950s tentatively titled “An American Carol.” I have some great ideas on how to keep the same familiar themes and characters and update it a little. The past is set in the 1920s, and the future in the 1960s, so it will be eras more familiar to a modern audience. Sadly, I don’t know if it will ever get produced. So many theaters stick to very traditional Christmas shows. But even if I just end up reading it aloud to my dog, it’s still worth it to me.
Answer this: “If I weren’t a playwright, I would be … “
a professional theatrical costumer! I do it as a hobby now. I love the visual aspect of creating a character, and blending historical accuracy with audience expectations of what eras and characters look like. I’m actually costuming another show in women’s Voices called Princess Margaret set in 1969 and it’s been so much fun to research and create the outfits.