Sunday, April 17, 2016

Writing to Be Seen

By Pia Wilson

In America, playwrights write to be read. I don’t know if we were taught to do that, or if that’s just the nature of the business here. There are so few opportunities to get a play up on its feet and explore the work that we don’t just build our plays for the boards anymore.

I recently heard back from a theater in London, and long story short, they couldn’t visualize how some things would work in my play. They wanted to put it up on its feet for a day, in a workshop. Just to see how it moved. But I’m an American (happily so), and they have a tiny theater in London, and neither of us could afford to have me come out for just a day or two. Just to see how the play moved.

I write plays to be seen.

And thank goodness for the people in my career who have seen something while reading my work. I’m grateful for the people who have fought to get my work on the stage, who have come to writers meetings and listened to pages and passed things along. Otherwise, I would have given up this impossible career quite a while ago. I would have eventually become that old lady who goes up to the young playwright after their show and says, “I was a playwright too, once.”

I write plays to be seen. So I don’t become invisible.

Because I’ve been lucky in my career, I had people I could reach out to in New York, to tell them about the lost opportunity in London, to see if they could give me a similar opportunity in New York.

You know how the story went. I was asked to apply for this or that. I was offered table reads.

Can we move the table out of the room?

I don’t know. Maybe, if I were a high-profile writer, I would have gotten that opportunity with no questions asked. Maybe if I’d asked different people. But, you know, strangers in London wanted to do it, so I thought not-strangers in New York might want to as well. Not just read but see. I forgot how we do things here.

I remain hopeful, though. Each time I see one of my friends achieve something, I think I can do it, too. I’ve just got to figure out the alchemy of it all. Maybe start applying to things more – or at all. Maybe write for the readers. Maybe.


Pia Wilson is a 2015 Sundance fellow, and a recipient of the 2014 Sarah Verdone Writing Award. She is a 2012-2013 resident with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's Workspace program, a member of the 2008 Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater, and a 2009 playwriting fellow with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Her drama TURNING THE GLASS AROUND was produced by Workspace Collective in October 2014. GENERATION T, was produced at Adelphi University in March 2014. Her play, THE FLOWER THIEF, was an August 2012 co-production between Horse Trade Theater Group and The Fire This Time play festival. | Twitter & Instagram: @pwilson720

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