ˈplāˌrīt/noun: a person who writes plays.
Meet Jennifer Roberts, Head Writer for the Wily West, charged with the task of corralling the work of #8Writers and putting it all together into cohesive pieces for our #SummerShows #ZeroHour #ISawIt
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Transfer. It's a small village in rural Pennsylvania. It was named after the transfer stations on the rail lines that linked two track systems of different gauges. Early on, before the transcontinental, railroads were built by multiple companies and unregulated, so eventually there were over 20 different track gauges across the east and midwest. Therefore, when a train came in on one line and met up in a town with a different line, the cargo and passengers needed to be transferred to a different train in order to continue its journey. I've always found this an appropriate personal metaphor.
What excites you about theatre right now?
I'm loving the new groundswell of playwright collectives popping up and the Do-It-Yourself mentality when it comes to self-producing. It's gotten a bad rap in the past, but I think it's vital for playwrights to take some control in getting their plays seen. Let's face it. Competition for a production is rough. Hundreds of playwrights are vying for the few slots available in a theater's season, so what are we to do? Sit and wait? I don't think so. Plays are meant to be seen. Get them seen!
How did you know writing was your strong suit? Did you ever do anything else?
Oh, I've done a lot of other things. My first job was a radio announcer when I was sixteen. Through the years I worked multiple jobs, all service industry and often at the same time when my husband was going to school. Later I settled into reception work at an animal hospital, working my way up to management. I stayed in that position for over ten years. I wasn't happy. I asked myself what it was I wanted out of life. I had always wanted to be a writer. So I decided to pursue it. By then my daughter was in high school and the opportunity to go to college presented itself, and I took it. I got started late. It used to bother me. But now I keep telling myself that I'm on my path. Don't look back!
What's the most fun or most challenging writing experience you've had to date?
Hands down, the most challenging experience was sitting silently through a festival reading of my play with this gentleman who was full of mansplaining and dismissiveness. My research was solid and it was a subject I studied. He didn't know this, so he was peacocking a bit. He was irritated at the subject matter; he wanted to put me in my place. I regret not grabbing a microphone and giving a rebuttal. It wasn't how the event was set up, but I still should've done it.
What is your favorite part about the work?
I think it's finishing each task, each stage. The research. The first draft. Meeting the deadline for the next one. Every time I can hit "send," and feel like it's an end to a phase of the play development, I get a thrill. I can relax for a bit until the next deadline. I also love when I'm writing well. I can feel it. There's a flow and an energy that's quite a high. So I guess my favorite part is beginnings and endings. The middle is the job. We may like our jobs, but they can be tedious and frustrating and sometimes we are looking at the classifieds.