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  • A.K. Lee

24 Hour Playwriting Project - Interview with a Playwright

"Every story has the ability to be told, and told well, regardless of circumstance."

My good friend and fellow Fannibal/Hiddlestoner, Candice Sanzari, recently took part in a 24 Hour Playwriting Project. Having survived the night with lots of coffee and writing, she was elated to receive the Critics' Choice Award for the night's efforts. Candice has written a guest post for this site before (see related post). She also kindly agreed to answer some of my questions. Thanks, Candice!

Below is the interview:


(AK - me CS - Candice)

AK: Firstly, congratulations! I'm so proud of you.

CS: Thank you! Still shocked and thrilled about it.

AK: What was your play about?

CS: "Thanksgiving is for Nutters" is a one-act, twenty-minute comedy that brings us into Terrance and Maiya's condo unit. Maiya is a sarcastic, hardcore partier living with a Hepatitis B diagnosis, whereas Terrance has an affinity for singing and wearing women's clothing, particularly dresses. Terrance has their judgmental landlady, Pattie Lou, over as a guest for Thanksgiving dinner, much to Maiya's dismay. The evening is full of hilarity, tension, and a dash of somber drama as Maiya attempts to deal with Terrance, her diagnosis and Pattie Lou's nagging existence.

AK: Were there set parameters or could you have written anything you wanted?

CS: We were given the premise of a potluck Thanksgiving dinner at a condominium association. No one could be related (by blood or marriage) or romantically involved, and there had to be the misunderstanding that someone was dying. Each writer was assigned a handicap to give one of the characters, along with costumes and props.

AK: What do you mean by 'handicap'? Is it like a quirk?

CS: Yeah! Like, mine had a physical spasm in reaction to grammatical errors.

We also had 3 mandatory lines to include within the dialogue, along with the task of a monologue where one of the characters addresses the audience. The truth in our play, or the reveal, had to be exposed in the last line of our piece. So, there were definitely specific parameters we had to abide by.

AK: It's very much like a short story then, with a 'kicker' ending.

CS: Definitely. I feel like because I had such parameters, it not only challenged me, but got me to figure things out quicker. And in a way, better. I had to trust what I was given and then trust my creative instincts without overthinking. There really wasn't much room for overthinking. My characters felt more eager to run with things.

AK: It's really like a first draft when you only have time to pour it all in. "Gonna run gotta run."

CS: Yeah, exactly! It's like you're on one of those baking competitions and you have the given ingredients and it's up to you to make them work and make something fantastic.

AK: It's like 'Chopped'! Okay, moving on: What did you enjoy most about your experience?

CS: I think what I enjoyed most was being immersed in an environment where all I had to do was create. That was my purpose. It felt so organic and invigorating, even though I was in a race against the clock. The setup really had me realize how capable I am as a storyteller.

AK: It sounds like a really fun challenge. Was there anything you didn't like?

CS: Hard to say as to what I enjoyed the least. Perhaps it was the initial intimidation I had facing this project. But then, I think that intimidation ultimately helped me to take that leap of faith and show up and write anyway. My heart did not mislead me.

AK: Could you share an excerpt that you think was interesting to write?

CS: Sure.

[rights to photo and all information within the photo belong to Candice Sanzari]

AK: Given the physical and mental strain of a 24-hour creative spree such as this Playwriting Project, would you do this challenge again?

CS: Definitely! I'd be grateful to be met with this opportunity again. It really kicks you out of a slump.

AK: Alright, one final question. What is your biggest takeaway from the 24 Hour Playwriting Project?

CS: That nothing is impossible. Every story has the ability to be told, and told well, regardless of circumstance. Your characters will never fail you. Listen to them. They know where they're going.

AK: Thank you for the interview, Candice! Best of luck for all your future writing endeavors.

CS: Thank you!

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