Playwriting

5 questions with Michael Wehrli

Written by Lindsay Price

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 Michael Wehrli – the author of We Open Tomorrow Night?

What was your first theatrical experience? How did it impact you?
Two come to mind…First was my first live theater experience – back in the 1970s seeing the original cast of “Godspell” at Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C. I found live theater to be thrilling and loved the energy of it all. Second, my first “role” was as a 5th grader in a play about Paul Revere. I was a “red coat” who stopped Revere to ask for his papers, which of course “he” (Revere was played by a girl) didn’t have. An elaborate chase ensued where I chased Revere all around the audience firing my toy gun at her the entire time. Loved it! However…as part of my costume, I was wearing my mother’s knee high boots (which were way to big for me). So I trailed way behind Revere. When I finally made it to the stage – all alone – I was the center of attention. Alas, the stage was about 2 feet off the floor, and I tripped and fell on my face as I was getting back on to it – receiving the biggest laugh of my career. Mortifying for such a young lad. I think I’ve been trying to live down that moment ever since…

Why do you write plays?
For the enjoyment of creation! It thrills me to see actors – particularly youth actors – take my work and bring it to life.

 

What’s the most challenging part of writing a play?
Rewriting! Editing out what is not needed, trying to be merciless and cut out the unnecessary, and look at it objectively. Also sometimes challenging is knowing when to stop and accept the work is “finished”.

 

How do you address/overcome those challenges?
I give some time between the initial creation of the work and each re-write. Also having several excellent friends read it and give me their input.

 

What advice do you have for young writers struggling to finish a draft?
Personal discipline. We all are so distracted in our society. So give yourself the gift of scheduling time to write and stick with it. 1-2 hours a day, every other day, or whatever works for you. Even if you are cranking out “junk” you are still writing! You will find plenty of jewels from that “junk” that will help to finish your draft. Lastly, be kind to yourself and know that you deserve to finish this draft.

Read sample pages from Michael Wehrli's plays here!

About the author

Lindsay Price