08 Aug Festival Kick Off Celebration
Before diving into the festival, every year we like to set aside an evening for our finalists to get to know each other, have a few drinks and, simply put, have fun. Yes, OOB is a competition, but it’s also an exercise celebrating up-and-coming playwrights and the many joys of theatre making, no mater how nerve-wracking it may be.
Once the playwrights and directors gathered at the Samuel French office, having an opportunity to meet our staff, we were all introduced to the evening’s guest speaker – award winning playwright Will Eno. His extensive resume of plays, including a recent production of Wakey Wakey at the Signature Theatre and the 2014 Broadway run of The Realistic Joneses, have received numerous awards, nominations, and accolades. (Though, he’d probably be the last person to brag about them.) Both The Realistic Joneses and The Open House won Drama Desk awards, and Thom Pain (based on nothing) was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize.
During his Q&A with our Marketing Director Ryan Pointer, (which you can watch here) a soft spoken Eno shared his joys and struggles of being all at once a jobbing playwright, a father, and a human being who is just as complicated as any other human being. Perhaps the most engaging quality of Eno’s interview was his honesty about the difference between the the expectation of what a playwright’s life aught to look like and what it actually feels like. When asked if it is important to write every day, he replied, “It feels good to try.”
Shortly after, Eno paused to impart some personal wisdom about “having fun,” specifically, “I have made writing a sort of misery for myself sometimes. And the writing that I did was not any better than the writing that I did when I was actually feeling good about myself and feeling excited about trying new things rather than scared about failing.”
When reminiscing about the Signature Theatre’s production of Open House, directed by Oliver Butler, Eno confessed that, “The great thrill, and this can also feel scary…is being really specific with everything, knowing exactly what you’re doing, but not really having any sense of what someone else will make of it.” So, it was especially gratifying for him to hear that audience members found the production a “satisfying and emotional experience” when the opposite reaction could be just as likely.
Eno was extraordinarily generous in sharing what he has learned throughout his career, but the piece of advice that resonated loudest was, “It’s a mysterious, beautiful, boring thing to be a writer. No one’s forcing you to do it, so I hope you find some joy in it.”
The festival continues tonight as we watch the first seven plays. We look forward to seeing you at the theater! And, to our playwrights this week, as Will Eno said last night, “It’s a noble thing to sit down and try to write a play.” So, have fun, celebrate your accomplishments, and break a leg!