We have a great community of amazing playwrights here at Theatrefolk that contribute to our collection of middle and high school plays. We hope you’ll enjoy this peek behind the curtain as they share how they approach the creative process, how they overcome challenges, and what advice they have for young playwrights. Don’t forget to check out their work!
Meet Theatrefolk Playwright Amanda Murray Cutalo – the author of many popular plays including Nice Girl and Typecast.
What was your first theatrical experience? How did it impact you?
My first theatrical experience was in 9th grade. I was in a summer teen production of Bye Bye Birdie.
It was an amazing experience that made me fall in love with performing. But I had a horrible audition (and continued to have horrible auditions for many years after). I was cast in the ensemble and had one line to say. I was disappointed but still looking forward to being in my first show, so I spent that summer watching the leads, learning from them, and having a blast being in the teen chorus. I also had the chance to play additional parts in the show that the director had waited to cast. This experience impacted me because I not only learned how much I love theatre, but also that no part is too small for an actor to play. Each production was an opportunity to learn from my cast mates, grow in confidence as an actor, and have lots of fun in the process.
Why do you write plays?
I teach and direct shows at an all-girls school. I often had difficulty finding plays that were a good fit for my girls. Having also gone to an all-girls school and gone through all of those experiences myself (competing with about 20 girls for the 1 substantial female part in the show, having to play the male characters in multiple shows when I didn’t get that 1 part, etc), I want to write shows that fit my girls and showcase their incredible talent.
What’s the most challenging part of writing a play?
Fleshing out the characters so they are as realistic and true to life as they can possibly be.
How do you address/overcome those challenges?
The production process really helps me to address this challenge. I encourage my actors to ask questions about their characters as they rehearse, especially if they don’t understand why their character does or says something or if they’ve noticed a hole in the plot that I’ve missed. The more collaborative this process is, the better.
What advice do you have for young writers struggling to finish a draft?
Try not to censor yourself too much when you’re trying to finish your first draft. I feel like I’ve spent many hours just staring at a blank screen because I was writing as if I was completing the final draft. It’s more important to get something out that conveys the general idea of what you’d like your characters to say. Then, you can walk away from it and tweak the wording later.
Read sample pages from Amanda Murray Cutalos's plays here!