We’ve been busy casting our 7 short plays this week, and we’re so excited to see these pieces up on their feet! 7 lucky directors will be chosen at random on Monday, April 16th to direct a play inspired by the prompt, Will Work For ____. Below, Directors Salon Co-Curator Nicole A. Watson asks Bekah Brunstetter, playwright of Bee, about what she looks for in a director, her dream project (whiskey and cupcakes included), and what inspires her.
Nicole: Tell us about your play in the Salon.
Bekah: I’ve been working on a play for a few years about an ESL teacher, and spent some time in a few public schools in the Bronx and down in North Carolina, where I’m from, to observe. I was so taken by the complicated relationships between teacher, student and parent. These relationships didn’t quite belong in the larger play I was working on, so I decided to write Bee. Teaching is such a noble thing that isn’t really valued anymore – they are under so much pressure, paid so little. I’m also obsessed with this word ‘vicarious’ – parents living through their kids, teachers living through their kids – kids are so precious, at the beginning of their lives – how, as adults, do we not force them to be what we always wanted for ourselves?
NAW: The theme for this year’s Salon is “Work For Change.” What does that mean to you?
BB: I think that we oftentimes forget the value of work. Maybe not the value of our artistic work, but of ACTUAL work that’s perhaps not related to what we ultimately want to do with our lives. When I worked a full time corporate job I swear I was more productive playwriting-wise than I’ve ever been. Any sort of work tends to re-focus and re-center you when you get all wrapped up in your own shiz. Lastly – sorry, I apparently have many thoughts – it means that nothing ever comes easy. Even when something appears to have happened or changed with no ‘work’ – chances are, it was years in the making.
NAW: As many artists have to find a day job to support ourselves– do you have a day-job story you could share?
BB: Bahhhhh yes! For years I worked as a Customer Service Specialist (that’s right, I specialized) for a Corporate Housing Company – taking complaint calls from residents, etc. Quite fun. I remember after a few years there, I was on the phone with an employee of another company, who said, is this the playwright Bekah Brunstetter? and I pretty much died on the spot. It just made me feel recognized in a way that I hadn’t well, ever. I have lots of other gross and weird stories involving bed bugs and things on the walls, but I’ll leave you with that nice one.
NAW: As a playwright- do you have a dream project/play production?
BB: I’ve been writing custom homemade monologues for actors for a few years now, and I’ve only gotten to actually hear a few. In my fantasy life, I get to see a production of all of these monologues with the actors performing them. I’m really interested in what actors can do with material that is tailor-made for them, and what truth can be found there.
There’s also a lot of cupcakes and Knob Creek whiskey.
NAW: What do you look for in a director?
BB: I look for somebody I’d want to hang out with. Someone who thinks in terms of images and small truthful moments, and is insightful without getting me off track – somebody that I can laugh with than instantly switch to a serious discussion about the play. Lastly, someone who doesn’t take the work too seriously.
NAW: Where/From whom do you draw inspiration?
BB: These days, I start with something I’m terrified of or confused by. I’m equally inspired by things I hear people say on the street, and weird things I read.
NAW: What’s next for you?
BB: I just finished writing for a new MTV show, Underemployed, with Craig Wright, that’s coming up soon. Currently working on a Sloan Play with EST, and a Robot Play with the awesome high school students at the Professional Performing Arts high school. blog! http://www.bekahbrunstetter.com
Bekah Brunstetter’s plays include A LONG AND HAPPY LIFE (Upcoming, Naked Angels) BE A GOOD LITTLE WIDOW (ARS NOVA, Spring 2011) HOUSE OF HOME (Williamstown Theater Festival), OOHRAH! (Atlantic Theater, 2009), and MISS LILLY GETS BONED (Finborough Theater 2010, Lark Playwrights Week 2009, Finborough Theater, June 2010). She is a a New York New Voices Fellow through the Lark Play Development Center, member of The Primary Stages Writer’s Group, the Naked Radio writing team. She is an alumni of the Women’s Project writer’s Lab, the Ars Nova Play Group, and the Playwright’s Realm. She is the 2011 Playwright in Residence at the Finborough Theater, London. She is currently working on an EST Sloan commission. BA UNC Chapel Hill; MFA in Dramatic Writing from the New School for Drama. http://www.bekahbrunstetter.com.