15 Jul OOB Final 30 Countdown – Samantha Cooper
And on the eighth day of our Final 30 Countdown we present Samantha Cooper!
Samantha Cooper is a NYC based playwright, actor, and theatre cross-trainer originally from Cheney, Washington. She received her dual B.A. from Western Washington University (WWU) in Theatre Arts and English in Bellingham, Washington in 2010. As a theatre artist and administrator, she has been affiliated with organizations such as: Annex Theatre, ArtsCrush, Blood Ensemble, Book-It Repertory Theatre, Columbia University, downSTAGEright, Lungfish Productions, Macha Monkey Productions, Northwest Playwrights Alliance, Seattle Repertory Theatre, WWU, and University of Washington. She was on the short list for the 2015 Disquiet International Literary Program Short Play Contest and was a participant in the 2015 Last Frontier Theatre Conference Play Lab. Samantha graduated with her MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University in May 2016. Find her online at: www.samanthajcooper.com or read some of her work on the New Play Exchange: newplayexchange.org/users/1266/samantha-cooper.
1. When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?
I wrote my first full length play at 15 years old. It was called “Two on Tuesday” and it was an incredibly cliche story about a friendship that is ruined by show biz. I wrote it in the font Comic Sans in the biggest size possible. I think maybe two people have seen that play? And…I would like to keep it that way.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
I wrote The Woman American in 2014 for the Northwest Playwright’s Alliance Double Shot Play Festival in Tacoma Washington. It’s one of those festivals where playwrights get a prompt and writing a ten minute play in roughly twelve hours. This particular year we didn’t get a prompt so much as a notification that there would be five acting blocks to work with. Needless to say…I was stuck. The first image I came up with was someone climbing in a window and then…I was still stuck. AND I’m a procrastinator so it was really the perfect storm of writer’s block.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
Gritty, sardonic, quirky, lyrical, whiskey.
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
Playwrights: Chekhov, Lynn Nottage, Naomi Wallace, Chuck Mee, Melissa James Gibson, Tracey Letts, Anne Washburn, Paula Vogel, Oscar Wilde
Other things/people: Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, Thomas Cole and the Hudson River School, feminism, Miranda July, Gabriel: A Poem by Edward Hirsch, Southern Gothic style architecture, roller derby, good food, modern classical music, sitcoms, angry girl music
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I once had two baby teeth in my mouth that had no adult teeth underneath them. Now, one of those is a fake tooth and the other one is still there. Basically, I can’t grow up because I don’t have all my adult teeth.
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
What Rhymes with America by Melissa James Gibson, Ruined by Lynn Nottage, Mr. Burns: A Post Electric Play by Anne Washburn, Marie Antoinette by David Adjmi, August: Osage County by Tracey Letts, The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
I just graduated from grad school so I guess I’m working on life? And there are always some plays in the hopper.
Her play The Woman American will be performed on August 9th at 6:30pm. It is set on a Thursday (bridge day) for a group of housewives smack dab in the greatest age of the American Dream. They revel in excessive cleaning, tuna fish and cheese, and a little boredom. In short, an average day. But as the day progresses, the women face a particularly bloody chore. Will the opt for a quick escape or face the final cleaning head-on?