I haven’t felt like a real playwright in a while.

And I thought about writing a whole blog post about how much that was messing me up and making me feel absolutely terrible but then I thought…

What do we all need during Virgo season? A pep talk before we get back to work.

So I had a wild idea. I would ask a couple of playwright friends when they first felt like a playwright and the response was overwhelming. I am 100% sure this will need to become its own blog. It needs its own inspiring space. And there are so many playwrights I didn’t have a chance to ask.

And I got such an amazing response. I cried. I applauded. And it completely changed my outlook on my writing and this career as a whole. And it was such an amazing response, I had to split it up over TWO blog posts.

Here’s part 1.

Jaisey Bates

1. When’s the first time you were like “I’m a playwright”? What was that moment like? Was it a reading? Was it when you wrote your first play? Or has that moment not happened yet?

Always and forever wrote poetry. Weird strange poetry. Kinda spoken word-esque nonlinear ‘outside the lines’ sometimes narrative odd cadence’d sometimes persona poetry. Then whilst at Circle in the Square I started writing performance pieces shorts monologues scenes for my ‘sans auditions friends’ and I (me) who dared with beings and bodies to dream outside SOP cstg lines.  

One of these creations ended up as a short play that I in beautiful naiveté  sans mentors teachers guidance etc. sent uber raw sans proper format etc. to Actors Theatre of Louisville for their short play festival. I got a rejection but along with the rejection I received A Note from a judge who said he wasn’t supposed to write but he felt compelled to encourage the author to continue writing b/c (listing lovely attributes for words).  I carried a copy of that letter with me for A Long Time. A Really Long Time. Because his words made me feel visible worthy real. As a playwright. 

So I wrote. Oceans. But my words and I became Haunted. Hopeless. B/c it was (is) Pretty Evident my words and I were (are) too Other (Other’d) to ever achieve productions. So all the words’re doomed to silence when I pass. 

But just when my words and I were looking at each other wondering why we kept trying there was a national award that gifted hope. Made my words and I feel visible worthy real. And there was a Letter of Recommendation. A lovely uber encouraging LOR. Which I’ve carried with me for A Long Time.  

So I write. 

And I call myself a playwright now, without qualification. 

Even though I’ve not achieved a production (outside of workshops and festivals).  

B/c these seas of words are authored as healing ceremonies for our wounded world. 

B/c their writer believes they are worthy. 

And so, via transitive property, their author must be worthy as well.

2. If a person could only read one play of yours, which one would you pick?

THE ACADEMY b/c it incorporates shout-outs to 200+ female-id/NB playwrights’ (including RACHEL LYNETT YAY!!) plays and might spark interest in the Oceans Of Wondrous Words available beyond WordsSoCisMaleWhite.  It’s an epic impossible shiny toy of a play in which 2 gods, 6 students and 4 players try to save our words and worlds. It hasn’t been read aloud yet. More info is available at https://www.the-peoplehood.com/the-academy-a-play. Other plays are available via https://newplayexchange.org/users/6451/jaisey-bates

3. 1-2 sentence tagline about your work/bio/website

Jaisey Bates writes/directs/performs with her multicultural nomadic theater company, The Peoplehood (the-peoplehood.com). A Princess Grace Award and O’Neill National Playwrights Conference finalist and Kilroys List honorable mention, she is a recipient of the Emerging American Playwright Prize from Marin Theatre Company.

Sharai Bohannon

1. When’s the first time you were like “I’m a playwright”? What was that moment like? Was it a reading? Was it when you wrote your first play? Or has that moment not happened yet?

I don’t know if I’ve ever had that moment last more than a couple of seconds. It usually hits me when something cool happens but then I immediately get sad because I start thinking what would my life look like if I could make writing my primary focus like I want to. Instead I have to constantly worry about money and work full-time while searching out side gigs to make sure I stay afloat in Chicago. Whenever I do tune out that train of thought I have imposter syndrome there reminding me of all the playwrights I know who should be in the opportunity I landed and how my work is never going to measure up. But there have been a few moments where I have thought I might be a playwright before I get pulled out of that and those seconds are amazing.

2. If a person could only read one play of yours, which one would you pick?

In the End. It’s still working itself out but I really do believe it’ll be the best thing to come from me when it’s all said and done. I spend a lot of time writing dark comedies but there’s something to be said for a heavy drama with a bit of hope.

3. How can they read it? NPX? Buy it?

NPX has most of everything I’m comfortable sharing. I also have a 10-minute, The Great Steven Stravinsky, published by Applause Books in 10-minute Plays for Kids (2015 Edition). I’m waiting for an anthology of this year’s plays from Ain’t I a Woman Fest to come out because  What About the Children? will be in that one. I’m also having a snippet of Craigslisted being printed in part of Avalanche Theatre’s biannual this fall.

4. 1-2 sentence tagline about your work/bio/website

Weird little feminist plays that are all about giving space to underrepresented folx.


Sharai Bohannon has had work produced in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Texas, and North Carolina. Her script, The Great Steven Stravinsky, a ten-minute play about an 11 year-old wannabe magician who learns the magic behind the baffling first crush/kiss and the joys of being an older sibling was published by Applause Books in 10-minute Plays for Kids (2015 Edition). Her full-length play, Craigslisted, has had productions 3 collegiate productions, a community theatre production at The Lantern Theatre in Conway, Arkansas, received a concert reading at KCACTF Region 6 in 2016, and received staged readings at The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre in 2016 and the Women’s Theatre Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2018. She currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.

Website: https://newplayexchange.org/users/2420/sharai-bohannon

Rachel Bublitz

1. When’s the first time you were like “I’m a playwright”? What was that moment like? Was it a reading? Was it when you wrote your first play? Or has that moment not happened yet?

It took me a year of writing plays before I called myself a playwright. I was very shy about it. The click happened when I was at a playwright meetup and sharing my work for the first time (we could bring in 10 pages). I’d come in before but didn’t share. When I did share though I made people laugh. I made the actors laugh! I knew there was a bunch of stuff I had to figure out, but that made me so much less ashamed to claim myself a playwright.

2. If a person could only read one play of yours, which one would you pick?

Probably RIPPED.

3. How can they read it? NPX? Buy it?

It’s on NPX! But I’m happy to email PDFs too.

4. 1-2 sentence tagline about your work/bio/website

Website: www.rachelbublitz.com

Rachael Carnes

When’s the first time you were like “I’m a playwright”? What was that moment like? Was it a reading? Was it when you wrote your first play? Or has that moment not happened yet?

In Fall of 2016, I told my family they’d have to make due without me on Tuesday nights: I was taking a playwriting class at my local theatre. My kids didn’t care – they were 15 and 11! – and my husband was supportive. Still, carving out that time and space, for a weekly workshop, as well as writing assignments and reading my fellow writers’ work, was a wonderful new path. It was something I’d always wanted to do, and it felt great to show up, ready to learn something new. I was 45 years old, and totally clueless about the first thing about writing a play. Our instructor, the wonderful Paul Calandrino, called us playwrights, from the get-go. “Playwright”!
That class was a terrific introduction to the structure of short plays. I wrote one, and submitted it to a festival and — First crack — It was accepted! I caught the bug, and haven’t looked back.

I write goofball comedies and super sad dramas, and everything in between. In the first couple of years of writing, I’d respond to just about every submission opportunity I saw, using those specifications as play prompts. You want a play with a sock monkey? Okay, here. A play in the dark? Sounds good. A noir play? A sci-fi play? A youth play? In responding to theatre’s putting requests into the ether, I flexed new writing muscles and developed some skills across genres. I’ve also taken every workshop, attended every conference and done every professional development opportunity that I could, given working full-time and raising two kids.

About a year ago, I saw a submission opportunity for plays in response to the “relationship” between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. I remember thinking: “Relationship?” I read and researched her life, and his, and sat down one Saturday morning and penned a short play, “Partner Of—”. I’m a white person, though, and here I’d written a play featuring three African American characters, set in Monticello, VA, in 1787. So, I engaged with the Director of the African American Experience and Slavery at that institution, Niya Bates, asking her if she might be willing to read my short play, for historical accuracy. She did, and found one incongruity: One, she said that in my play, Sally is 14 years old, when she learns what’s in store when she accompanies Jefferson to Paris, but research suggests she was likely as young as eleven years old. With Bates’ approval, I kept the age at 14. That play has since had staged readings and productions across the country, including the Women’s Playwright Initiative at the Ivoryton Playhouse, the 44th Annual Samuel French Festival, the American Theatre in Higher Education New Play Development Series, the Midwestern Dramatist Center and more.

The play was published in 2018 by the Coachella Review: http://thecoachellareview.com/wordpress/2018/08/27/partner-of/
The play is also available on New Play Exchange: https://newplayexchange.org/plays/162942/partner-—

Of all the stops along this play’s journey, I’m most proud of one of its first collaborations. MOJOAA Performing Arts, in Raleigh, N.C., presented this play in the chapel of the historic Mordecai House, in their performance called Reclamation.

1-2 sentence tagline about your work/bio/website

I’m thrilled to have had productions across the U.S., U.K., Canada and Asia, and invitations to the Inge Theatre Festival, the Midwestern Dramatists Center, the Mid-America Theater Conference, the American Association for Theatre in Higher Education Conference New Play Development Series and the Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, as well as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Playwriting Intensive. I’ve enjoyed staged readings of full-lengths in the U.K., SoCal, NYC and Oregon, and my full-length play Practice House is a semi-finalist for the 2019 New Dramatists Princess Grace Award. I’m the founder and editor of CodeRedPlaywrights, a consortium of writers across the country, responding to gun violence. My family and I live in Oregon.

Find my work on NPX: https://newplayexchange.org/users/16553/rachael-carnes

And see what’s upcoming in my theatre world by finding me on FaceBook: Rachael Carnes – Playwright.

Adrienne Dawes

When’s the first time you were like “I’m a playwright”? What was that moment like? Was it a reading? Was it when you wrote your first play? Or has that moment not happened yet?

I might always be an “emerging playwright” so I really look for the smaller milestones that make me feel like, “Oh! NOW we’re a playwright.” 

One of the first instances was my first invitation to travel for a reading series. My play “You Are Pretty” was selected to be read as part of Live Girls! Theatre’s new works program in Seattle. They were able to offer me a hotel room and travel reimbursement and I remember that felt incredibly luxurious.  Another happy memory attached to that is that my friend/muse, Laura von Holt, coordinated a trip up to Seattle to surprise me the night of my reading. After a few minutes of us obnoxiously laughing/screaming/crying, Laura said something to me like, “I know it’s really important to show up.” And she’s absolutely right . . . whenever friends and family can show up, it means the world to me. I think it’s both an internal and external validation thing like I’ll catch myself going “Damn. Look at us playwriting!” and it’s matched by someone I don’t know (or someone under zero obligation to be nice to me) popping up to say, “Hey damn! Playwright!”

If a person could only read one play of yours, which one would you pick?

I wish a person could only read 2 of my plays because I try to represent a really wide range of different stories, characters, and structures. I usually send “Teen Dad” and “Am I White” as contrasting samples (one is a “straight” dysfunctional family dramedy; the other is a much more somber experimental drama). But to actually follow your instructions, I’d go for the edgier play, “Am I White.”  It’s my first full-length and it feels super relevant to current conversations about white supremacist terrorist groups, mental illness, and mixed-race identity. The premiere production was back in October 2014 . . . before Charlottesville, before 45 took office. I really hope someone else produces it again . . . the full script is up on NPX or literally sitting in your inbox right now (if you work with a company with an open submission policy). 

1-2 sentence tagline about your work/bio/website

Adrienne Dawes is an Afro-Latina playwright and producer originally from Austin, TX. Follow her work online at www.adriennedawes.com or @Heckle Her

Find part 2 here.


I asked a couple of other playwrights but didn’t hear back and didn’t check back in because there was already so, so much. So if I asked you and you’re not featured here, stay tuned. I am definitely doing this again. And possibly changing the format of it.