Peter and Dana, the characters you’ll meet in Lawrence Keller’s The Queen of Social Media, are just home from the hospital with their new-born baby, Katey. While thrilled, tensions mount as Dana seems a bit preoccupied.
To find out more, come to our New Playwright’s Showcase, Sept. 23-24. And keep reading here to find out more about the author.
When and why did you start writing plays?
I’ve been teaching playwrighting to high students for about ten years. But it was only about two years ago that I decided to “put up or shut up” and actually try to write a play.
What do you expect the audience to feel after hearing your play at our showcase?
I’m hoping there will be a sense of recognition. The play was informed by two major ideas – the sheer terror that new parents feel when they bring home an infant. And today’s struggle of just how much of our lives to share with the rest of the world.
Do you have a favorite character in your play and why or why not?
If I say I love all of my characters that’s a bit of a copout. But it’s true. Peter and Dana are two sides of myself that often are at opposition. They are both so proud and excited to be parents. But they do it in different ways. Peter’s desperate for a one on one connection with his child while Dana just wants to scream at the top of every building “Hey, look what I brought into this world!”
What’s the one technique that helps you get past writers’ block?
Any and all forms of meditation. I’m always free associating at odd times. It will often drive my partner crazy when I’m quiet. It’s weird, but those are the times when I’m working the hardest. I’m sorting things out in my head. Playing with ideas, situations.
But my favorite technique is to look at a situation in the weirdest way possible. The best example came when I was challenged to write a play inspired by the Kanye West song “New Slaves.” I know next to nothing about contemporary music. But after a few days of free association, I changed the word “new” to “gnu” and created a world where the migration of wildebeest was a metaphor for the migration of African-Americans in the United States.
Then I kept looking at the lyrics in the song and things kind of serendipitously lined up. Writing can be kind of strange like that.
What’s something most people don’t know about you that you’re now ready to share with the world?
As a writer and director I absolutely LOVE scaring the crap out of an audience. For me it’s the ultimate adrenaline rush as an artist. But hypocritically I HATE being scared myself.