Julia Starr’s new play, The Long Way Around, debuts October 9, 2015 at the Highwood Theatre. She is a rising senior at Stanford University. Her full-length play Crazy Runs in the Family received its professional premiere at The Highwood Theatre in July 2014. In October 2014, she began workshopping her new play The Long Way Around at Stanford, after writing it under the guidance of playwright Cherríe Moraga. She currently serves as Executive Producer of Ram’s Head Theatrical Society, Stanford’s oldest and largest theater organization. She has received playwriting awards from Columbia College Chicago and Scholastic. www.juliatstarr.com
Why are you a playwright?
I love seeing my words interpreted in different and more nuanced ways by actors and directors depending on their own experience. Unlike with other forms of writing, the collaboration associated with theater brings life into a play, allowing it to breathe and evolve in the physical world rather than merely in a writer’s head.
What type of theatre most excites you?
Independent of whether a play is considered “good,” I love theater that sparks conversation and interest in a topic beyond one’s own realm of experience. As an audience member, I enjoy plays that raise questions and then call on the audience to answer them, leaving me deep in conversation with friends after the show. To me, that passionate debate about the circumstances of, or actions within, a play is just as important than content of the play itself.
What starts a play moving in your imagination?
This play began with music, but it all depends on what sparks my interest – whether that is an article in a newspaper, a picture in a book, or the sly smile of someone on the metro.
Describe your writing day.
I’m a college student, so a “writing day” is usually a writing night, blurry-eyed and caffeine-infused. When I do have a day that’s devoted to writing, I like to sit (stereotypically) in a coffee shop with my headphones in. The rumble of casual conversation, bell on the door, and snarky comments from the baristas creeping past whatever music inspires me keeps my mind rolling and encourages me to write from a place of empathy and understanding.
WOMEN’S VOICES THEATER FESTIVAL
THE LONG WAY AROUND
October 9 – 25, 2015
The Highwood Theatre
914 Silver Spring Ave, Suite 102
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Details and Tickets
How did you choose this play to debut at the Festival?
As an exploration of the nature and terms of intimacy in female friendships, this play seemed to fit perfectly with the thematic goals of the Festival. (As one actor said in rehearsal, this play fails the reverse Bechtel test.) I am so grateful to the Highwood Theatre for embracing the spirit of this play and choosing to produce it.
What female playwrights have influenced your writing and how?
My playwriting professor, Cherríe Moraga, instructed me to write a monologue about what scares me. After a half an hour of frantic pen scribbling, my hands shook uncontrollably when I read the piece out loud to class. This play arose from that monologue and Moraga’s constant encouragement to write from a place of vulnerability and dig deep into the depths of character consciousness.
What’s missing from theatre today?
Theater as a medium is inherently open to the exploration of a wide array of identities, narratives, and ideas. But theater by nature only exists with an audience. The effect of a play depends on the audience’s willingness to step outside of its comfort zone and be vulnerable in the moment. Theater can only amplify a wide range of voices to create real social change if audiences are willing to listen.
What are you working on now?
Answer this: “If I weren’t a playwright, I would be … “
Being a playwright is an important part of who I am, but I am young and do not quite know what I want to be, much less what I “would” be if I weren’t a playwright. But I do know that I’d be lost without storytelling and would probably be helping other artists bring their stories to life in one way or another.