Alligators, Minks + New Money
Danielle Eliska Lyle
70s. Midwest. Real Times. Post-Riots. Pre-Crack era.
On the corner, it’s a slow day for three hustlers moving weight. As they shoot the shit, one decides to tell the others about his big plans as a Homeless Prophet tries to caution him to look at the handwriting on the wall. Dedicated to my Detroit players.
Danielle Eliska is a writer, filmmaker and photographer from Detroit. Her life’s work is to tell stories (written, filmed + photographed) of powerful women, the Black Diaspora + the state of Black culture. She’s the founder and COC of multimedia production house, MERAKI Society.
Danielle received her MFA in Dramatic Writing in Film, Television + Theatre from NYU, gained notable screenwriting recognition, advancing to the Quarterfinalist Round of the 2018 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, the 2nd round of Sundance’s 2019 Feature Film Program Development Track, was named a 2014 + 2015 Playwright for The Liberation Theatre Black Playwrights Group, was selected by an OBIE Award-winning 48 Hours in Harlem Festival as a 2015 Playwright + is an active member of NYWIFT and AWD.
Danielle was named one of the inaugural grant recipients of the MOME NYFA ‘Made in NY’ Women’s Fund in Film for her short film, Shield.
A BIT ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
1. When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?
For me, these are two different periods in my life. I started writing plays in high school. The moment I realized I wanted to write was around 7 or 8 years old. I was always fascinated by films and theatre. As a child, my parents would take me to see movies and plays and I feel deeply in love with both practices.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” and Detroit was the inspiration behind this short play. No matter where I live or travel, home is where the heart is. I love the fabric of the Black community in Detroit. It is so rich, so vibrant, so visceral, so multi-faceted… I used my love for my city as a foundation and mixed in a little history. The speech of the one who subtly moves the plot along (Homeless Prophet) was pulled from a very interesting experience on a NYC subway– a Euclid-bound C train to be exact!
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
I write from my heart.
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
I have a host of favorite writers but the most honest thing I can say about the influences on my writings is that I pull inspiration from a host of things. The world itself is my greatest inspiration and being able to see stories in everyday life. I am forever inspired by painters, sculptors, novelists, dancers, actors, poets, athletes, photographers, pharaohs, queens, mentors, relatives, nature, spirituality, etc. The list goes on and on.
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I love to eat red grapes and raw cashews together. It’s such a party.
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
WOW. This is always a hard question. There are so many… summing it up– Anything Lorraine Hansberry. Anything August Wilson. Anything Lynn Nottage. Oh, beautiful Ntozake Shange– a powerful inspiration. Anything Edward Albee and Shakespeare. Amiri Baraka’s “Dutchman”. Ron Milner’s “Jazz Set”. George C. Wolfe’s “The Colored Museum”. Then there’s Katori Hall who is truly doing the damn thing and the works of my colleagues and fellow classmates who have written flawless work that may not be popular in mainstream, but that has had an incredible impact on me. I pray earnestly that their work has it’s day of glory.
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
I have some really, really good projects brewing that I am so very excited about! Please follow me on social media platforms to watch it all unfold.