10 Jul F30 Countdown – Gillian Beth Durkee
The OOB festival is twenty-six days away, and it can’t get here soon enough. Alas, I don’t have a time machine, but getting to know our F30 playwrights in the meantime is equally exciting! So, let’s meet Gillian Beth Durkee.
Gillian Beth Durkee is a playwright, actor and singer/musician hailing originally from Seattle. Gillian has worked with Rhapsody Collective (of which she was a founding member), PTP/NYC, In the Water Theatre Co., and Middlebury College. She has been a National Playwrights Conference semi-finalist and a KCACTF Region I 6×10 winner. Gillian was a staff writer for the web series That Reminds Me… and the assistant head writer for the short film Idle Worship. Gillian is the former Assistant Music Director of Treble NYC, New York’s premiere post-collegiate all-female a cappella group. She appeared with Treble in the New Line Cinemas film How to be Single. Gillian has also provided background vocals for a few recording artists, including Great Big World and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. She is currently an MFA candidate in Carnegie Mellon’s Dramatic Writing program, under the sage tutelage of Rob Handel.
When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?
I started out acting a lot as a kid. In high school I wrote a screenplay about a bank heist that took place on bicycles on this bike path that runs through Seattle. It is still available for option. When I got to college, I took a playwriting class and it was pretty much love at first write. I’ve been writing plays ever since.
How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
This play was inspired by Jack Thorne’s short play Whiff Whaff. The process was surprisingly quick – the play sort of just flowed out of me once I got the idea to write it. It has been workshopped in class at Carnegie Mellon with Rob Handel.
What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
Hope, empowerment, magic, inclusivity, fun.
What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
Some of my playwriting loves who have influenced me are Wallace Shawn, Sarah Ruhl, and Anne Washburn. I am also heavily influenced by music. My writing is often fueled by such artists as Radiohead, Jack White, Philip Glass, and K.Flay.
What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I had a brief career as a child model for the children’s xylophone known as the Chimalong.
What are some of your favorite plays?
I love Mr. Burns by Anne Washburn, John and The Aliens by Annie Baker, Still by Jen Silverman, Grasses of a Thousand Colors by Wallace Shawn, You Got Older by Clare Barron, Kentucky by Leah Nanako-Winkler, An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, and Angels in America by Tony Kushner. As far as classic plays go, I’m a sucker for Chekhov’s The Seagull and too many Shakespeare plays to list here.
Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
I’m in the midst of writing my thesis play for the MFA program at Carnegie Mellon. It’s about cats! It will run November 15-18 (in Pittsburgh).
Her play Romance at the Shoe Factory will be performed on August 9th at 6:30pm. A couple tells the story of how they met, only to discover amidst the mounting peculiarity of their story that their two accounts of the relationship vary drastically. Speculations of adultery, murder, and fascist shoe factories abound in this dinner-double-date play.