Sincerely, Best Wishes, Regards
Gillian Beth Durkee
An e-pistolary play. Sheyenne and Willa work together, but they have never met. Sheyenne works out of Des Moines, Willa works out of Sacramento. Neither of them knows what the other looks like, apart from a small, pixelated office headshot in the company roster. Yet, somehow, all of a sudden, maybe freed by the knowledge they’ll likely never meet in person, they come to know one another. The kind of knowing that almost feels like being.
Gillian Beth Durkee is a playwright/screenwriter hailing originally from Seattle. She is an alumna of EST/Youngblood. Her work has been developed or produced with the Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Workshop Theater, Current Harbor, Sam French OOB, the Sewanee Writers Conference, PTP/NYC, In the Water, Tiny Rhino, and more. She has been a Sanguine Project Playwright Finalist and a two-time O’Neill semi-finalist. Her screenplay The Mast Year won a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan foundation and she has written for web series including Adulting with Jane. Gillian also sings and arranges a cappella music with Treble NYC. BA: Middlebury, MFA: Carnegie Mellon.
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?
Writing and acting were two separate passions of mine growing up. I took a playwriting class in college and I was instantly hooked. I don’t remember a specific moment, but I definitely fell hard and fast.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
I was inspired to write this play after I clocked my tendency to agonize over and re-rewrite the simplest of intra-office emails at my day job. There’s also a certain level of glee in exchanging sassy repartee via IM with a co-worker. I set out to write a comedy about long-distance work communication, but over the course of writing I discovered additional, more serious themes – namely grief and the gender dynamics of workplace hierarchies.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
playful, feminist, morbid, hopeful
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
Some touchstone writers for me are Caryl Churchill, Wallace Shawn, Young Jean Lee, Annie Baker, and Sarah Ruhl. These are some of the names I look to when I need to remember how boundless the possibilities are when writing for theater. I am happily expanding my list of inspiring writers all the time, many of whom I am also fortunate enough to call my friends.
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I was a captain of my middle school ultimate frisbee team.
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
Two recent-ish productions that have really stuck with me are “Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp.”, a collection of Caryl Churchill shorts I got to see at the Royal Court, and Dave Malloy’s “Octet” at Signature.
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
No playwriting plugs, but if you enjoy a cappella I encourage you to check out Treble NYC’s video performance of “Little of Your Love”!