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James Elden's Playwright's Spotlight

Arts & Culture Podcasts

Playwright Spotlight features a new playwright every episode to discuss the tools of the trade and solutions to the obstacles we face as writers in hopes of making us all better and more successful playwrights.


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Playwright Spotlight features a new playwright every episode to discuss the tools of the trade and solutions to the obstacles we face as writers in hopes of making us all better and more successful playwrights.




Repertory, Residencies, and the Benefits of Previews - Playwright's Spotlight with Sunny Drake

Australian born and Canadian artist, Sunny Drake, stops by Playwright's Spotlight. In this episode, we discuss developing the artist within and how to grow as a playwright without formal training, how much involvement the playwright has at a table reading, the benefits of previews, rehearsing in repertory theatre and how to submit as well as breaking down and submitting to residencies. Within the latter, we talk about "good" vs "bad" retreats, matching your work to appropriate residencies in...


Diligence, Perseverance, and Overcoming Adversity - Playwright's Spotlight with Faye Widjaja

Without a doubt the most important episode of Playwright's Spotlight to date. If in the past you've never made it through an episode in it's entirety, this is the one to sit through until the end. A story of diligence, perseverance, over coming adversity, Faye Widjaja tells the story of her high school drama club staging a production when it seemed the universe was against them. We discuss breaking down and writing a performance art piece, the timing and structure of a play set in real time,...


Discovery, Deliberation, Decision, and Driving Action - Playwright's Spotlight with Matt Williams

90 minutes of brilliant insight. The amount of real estate this episode with Matt Williams covers couldn't be covered in a set of Time Life books. Matt provides so much knowledge, it was hard to know when to stop and move on to the next question. In this chat we cover learning playwriting from dramaturgical books opposed to those focused on actual playwriting, driving action vs inciting incidents, achieving simplicity through elimination, embodying character through action, bad feedback and...


Psychology, Vulnerability, and the Romance of Playwriting - Playwright's Spotlight with John Mabey

What a wonderful and intoxicating exchange and perhaps a little serendipitous. I discovered John had started following the podcast and what followed was nothing short of a high energy conversation about the craft. In this episode with John Mabey, we discuss the romance and preciousness of playwriting as well as the psychology of the craft and the necessity of getting out of our own way. We also talk about the vulnerability of the playwright, trusting other playwrights, letting go of our...


Adaptation, Development, and Breaking Down the Story - Playwright's Spotlight with Barry Kornhauser

In this episode I have a inspirational conversation with playwright Barry Kornhauser about the commissioning and adapting plays from children's books, development, creative freedom and licensing, and breaking down and building a story around stage directions and minimal dialogue. We also discuss working with underprivileged as well as individuals with disabilities, writing for age appropriate casting, and relating to younger audiences in your work. In addition, we cover what can be learned...


Workshops, Styles, Tropes, and Politics Preventing Art - Playwright's Spotlight with Trey Nichols

In this episode of Playwright's Spotlight I speak to Los Angeles based playwright and actor Trey Nichols. In addition to playwriting, Trey runs a series of playwriting workshops throughout the year. Our conversation touches on various aspects of the craft including - learning through acting, one's inspirations, and playwriting classes as well as using the past for exposition versus achieving an objection. We also touch upon violence under language, the benefits of breathing space in a piece,...


Rhythm, Dance, Space in Beats, and Being a Lazy Writer - Playwright's Spotlight with Dagney Kerr

It's always a treat when playwrights can record in house. This week local playwright Dagney Kerr stopped by to discuss her playwriting journey from college to relocating to Los Angeles as well as her process from workshops to worldwide productions. We also discuss letting go of your work and standing your ground. In addition, we tackle working with bad directors, adjusting your work, writing rhythmically and tactically, perfecting pieces before submitting them, self-representation and...


Twists, Turns, Intent, and Creating Your Own Opportunities - Playwright's Spotlight with Paul Surace

In this episode, Los Angeles based playwright Paul Surace swings by Playwright's Spotlight to talk about his upcoming compilation Hearing More Voices the followup to his first collection Hearing Voices. We discuss poignancy in playwriting, writing with intent, characters with a history vs characters that are strangers, and being directed as a playwright. We also touch on bad direction and pulling the plug on a production, creating your own opportunities, discipline while working a full time...


Action in Dialogue, Inspiring Designers, and the Seeds of Conflict - Playwright's Spotlight with Cyndy A. Marion

Fresh in the middle of her trip from New York for the West Coast Premiere of her new play Broken Story, playwright Cyndy A. Marion stopped by a Playwright's Spotlight for an in-house interview. In this episode, we discuss transitioning from director to playwright, learning structure, taking creative license when writing about real life events, honesty in marketing, and what makes theatrical staging. We also talk about complex sets and inspiring designers as well as adding action to dialogue,...


Etudes, Texture, and Driving a Different Route - Playwright's Spotlight with Michael Wright

Wow wow wow. This episode is chock full of information, education, and insight, I could've gone on for another hour and a half. Michael Wright shares so much information throughout our chat. The plethora of topics we cover is immense and his knowledge is never ending. His exercises, or as he calls them "etudes", will help any playwright or writer struggling or weak in any particular playwriting element from technique, character, plot, structure, collaboration, and writer's block. We also...


Artistic Statements, Achieving Dimension, and the Great Elevator Play - Playwright's Spotlight with Gary Garrison

Welcome to Season 2, Episode 1. Author of The Playwright's Survival Guide and Perfect Ten and ten-minute playwright virtuoso, Gary Garrison swings by Playwright's Spotlight. In this discussion, we discuss progressing as a playwright, structuring a ten minute play, the differences between a sketch and a ten-minute play, and developing characters. We also touch on the necessity of artistic statements, what should be included in character descriptions as well as submission letters. And that's...


Playwright's Spotlight with Steven Dietz

Passionate and Inspirational, Steven Dietz visits Playwright's Spotlight to discuss the musicality of dialogue, kairos moments throughout a play, and what he calls The Living Play, in which he unpacks his technique of using motion, status, and time opposed to action and conflict. We also discuss taboo topics, writing out of uncertainty, overlapping dialogue, intricacy and layers, the mythology of playwriting as well as his time at Playwrights' Center and working with some of the greats....


Playwright's Spotlight with Mark Harvey Levine

In this episode of Playwright's Spotlight, I speak to the master of the 10-minute play - Mark Harvey Levine. With over 1900 productions of his work around the world, Mark offers a plethora of information when it comes this short-form content - from the challenges to the opportunities that come along with it. We discuss structure from exposition to the inciting incident to resolution. We also touch on comedy, plots, and struggles in playwriting and how to build one's confidence as well as...


Playwright's Spotlight with Nina Mansfield

The quirky and energetic playwright Nina Mansfield stopped by Playwright's Spotlight, and while she's far from high strung, I can't help but think the female characters she sticks in unusual situations are all a faction of her. It's hard to pinpoint the exact areas of playwriting we cover in this episode, because we cover so many subjects - teaching subtext, building backstory, timing, character development by letting them tell YOU who they are, the 10-minute structure, and revisiting old...


Playwright's Spotlight with Dean Farell Bruggeman

Had a wonderful time reconnecting with Dean Farell Bruggeman, discussing playwriting and launching a career without any formal training. We discuss overcoming the obstacles without an academic start, the necessities of a successful scene, achieving truth and following your heart, muses and self projection as well as inspiration and unearthing plays buried in the "underwear drawer." Dean's quite inspirational with lovely energy. A mistake I make within our talk is about a piece correctly...


Playwright's Spotlight with Stephen Kaplan

Playwright Stephen Kaplan stops by in person in the episode of Playwright's Spotlight. This discussion is about as well-rounded as it gets, touching on a plethora of aspects go playwriting, including - avoiding directing on the page and the minimal use of stage directions and action, common habits and the pitfalls of a beginning playwright as well as the playwright's toolbox, teaching subtext, and the structure of playwriting vs screenwriting. We also go into detail about Aristotle's...


Playwright's Spotlight with Jonathan Cook

In this episode of Playwright's Spotlight, I speak to playwright Jonathan Cook about festivals, submission fees, and dealing with rejection. We also discuss the pathway to playwriting with no formal training and learning from reading bad material. Jonathan shares his experience with getting published and his extensive knowledge in creating and producing audio versions of plays as a podcast. Jonathan supplies a lot of great resources in this episode, all which can be found in the show notes....


Playwright's Spotlight with Brian Gene White

In this episode, I chat with playwright Brian Gene White about about the process of developing a play from start to world premiere using his recent piece Future Tripping as an example. We also discuss the accessibility of producing, the benefits of a technical director, gathering a "crew" and surrounding yourself with good people. Brian also informs me of the newest (or at least for me) crowdfunding platform for the arts - Fractured Atlas. As with all my episodes, I walk away with new...


Playwright's Spotlight with Paul Braverman

In this episode, I speak to playwright Paul Braverman about developing your own local playwrights' guild, obstacles in playwriting, and how detailed one should go when writing stage directions. We also discuss the use of parentheticals, using long-form improve to write short plays and how it can also benefit full length pieces, the tricks of rereading pdf formats of your work, and the process of creating characters and developing plot. I learned a lot myself from this interview, and I hope...


Playwright's Spotlight with Steven Young

In this episode, I speak with playwright Steven Young to discuss the anatomy of a monologue, scene, 10 minute play, one-act play, three-act play and even touch on the more uncommon four-act structure. We also discuss the necessities of a scene and where to start them. We also discuss achieving production feats in playwriting, beginners' mistakes, good and bad writing habits and building a routine as well as what makes a good story, and whether or not you can teach subtext. This is an episode...