by TyLie Shider

Featured image for “Shoptalk”





For Shine, a retiring inner-city electrician, a routine trip to the barbershop becomes a vivid, but comic, portrait of what happens to the feelings society has not given us permission to feel.




TyLie Shider is an American writer, a 2024 New Jersey State Council on the Arts Individual Artist Fellow, and the inaugural playwright in residence at ArtYard. A 2022-23 McKnight Fellow in Playwriting at the Playwrights’ Center, he is a recipient of Premiere Stages’ Liberty Live commission, two consecutive Jerome Fellowships, and an I Am Soul playwright in residence at the National Black Theatre. Recent projects include Certain Aspects of Conflict in the Negro Family, The Gospel Woman, Whittier and his filmmaking debut Sign O’ the Times. Screenwriting credits include: Truant. He holds a BA in Journalism from Delaware State University and an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU. A proud member of the Dramatist Guild, he is currently a Professor of Playwriting at Augsburg and Pace University, and a staff writer for Minnesota Playlist where he writes a regular column on Creative Discipline.




When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?

I was 17 when I took a course called Modern Drama in undergraduate school. We studied the American theater canon from O’Neal to Suzan-Lori Parks. At the time I was a bookish poet who majored in journalism – but shortly after studying those canonical writers and their biographies, I decided to pursue an academic and professional career in playwriting. I think what grips me about the form is its ability to encompass all of my literary interests.


How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?

The play is a homage to the barbershop I grew up frequenting. My mother also owned a hair salon for the first dozen years of my life – and so the ofttimes cathartic relationship between a stylist and their clientele is something that I’ve observed coming up and I wanted to concretize it in this play.


What are five words that describe who you are as a playwright?

I am an investigative playwright.


What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?

My father, who is a guitarist and a songwriter. Songwriting is a very disciplined form of storytelling – and it’s where I started training as a writer, because I was imitating my dad. And I also think songwriting lends itself to the brevity in my plays. Secondly, my mother and grandparents. All of whom took my writing career seriously when I was young. I think it’s important for adults to take the professional pursuits children have seriously, because it develops their confidence. And lastly, August Wilson, whose plays and biography provided a blueprint for me to shape my own career in the theater.


What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?

French fries are my favorite food!


What are some of your favorite plays?

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller and Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro.


Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?

I’m working on a few commissions that I’m excited about. Follow my work on Instagram @theplaywright.

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