FAYETTEVILLE — Writers and others filled the Fayetteville Public Library’s Walker Community Room for the Distinguished Author Series Saturday (Feb. 11), hoping to pick up some tips from New York playwright Kim Rosenstock.
The lively Saturday afternoon crowd listened intently to the panel discussion between Rosenstock, TheatreSquared artistic director Bob Ford and the play’s director, Portia Krieger.
Rosenstock and Krieger met about a year ago during the first run of Tigers Be Still in New York. Krieger was then assistant director of the show.
“I quickly realized that (Krieger) was going to be my rock during the process,” Rosenstock explained. “She was an incredible dramaturgical resource and a great sounding board for ideas.” (Dramaturgy is the art of dramatic composition and the representation of the main elements of drama on the stage.)
The witty Rosenstock grew up in Long Island intent on following in her lawyer-father’s footsteps, but she changed her mind after taking a playwriting course her junior year at Amherst College.
Her earlier experience in community theater was spent mostly in the wings, she said. “[I] was not that good and was usually in the background.”
She worked as a literary manager at a theater, reading other writer’s plays, before becoming a playwright herself.
“It was a real job, with a real paycheck, health insurance and business cards!” she said of her work as a literary manager. Still, she continued writing.
“There’s a part of writing when you’re not writing; you’re thinking. And that’s a very important part of writing. But it is hard to find that time,” she said. She wrote the first draft of Tigers be Still while taking a week’s vacation to write at a relative’s cabin in upstate New York. The play landed her a scholarship to Yale.
She’s now working as a writer for the Fox television’s sitcom New Girl starring Zooey Deschanel, and has taken an interest in writing musicals.
Saturday’s panel discussed the evolution of Tigers. Krieger, the director, said the play developed a lot during rehearsals.
“It was amazing, interesting and strange to be in the position of knowing so much of the ‘why’ behind the play, and being so ‘on the ground’ with the playwright,” Krieger added.
Aspiring playwrights in the audience asked questions and dug more deeply into the play-writing process. Ford and Rosenstock emphasized the importance of “writer’s intuition” and learning to trust one’s original impulse.