The Vagina Read
A special writer’s room in Hollywood attempts to fix the work of a male writer.
Amy Tofte is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter who won the 2015 Nicholl Fellowship in screenwriting from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Her play Righteous Among Us won the 2020 Todd McNerney Playwriting Award. Upcoming productions include the short opera The Course We Set (Boston Opera Collaborative) and a production of her play Cardboard Castles Hung on Walls (Wild Imaginings in Waco, TX). She has been in residence at the Autry Museum of the American West, Brush Creek, The Kennedy Center and Yaddo with work produced and developed throughout the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and twice at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She is a proud member of The Dramatists Guild. MFA, CalArts.
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?
Technically, my first produced play was for the Easter Sunrise Service (First Lutheran Church) at my hometown in South Dakota. I was 16. I learned about “creative differences” from the Pastor who kept cutting/changing my script. I also never wrote something for church again.
I think playwriting really became a thing during my undergrad at the University of Iowa because I was able to take playwriting classes and there were MFA Playwrights developing new work. I was finally working alongside living playwrights!
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
I read a lot of scripts for film and TV. I started a list of common problems I found in the writing of female characters, especially things that drove me nuts. I thought maybe I’d write an article someday on “tips for writing female characters”…but some of it is too absurd to believe. So I just wrote it all into a short play. It was pretty therapeutic.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
experimental – absurd – emotional – dark comedy
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
Dorothy Parker – Ibsen – growing up on a farm in South Dakota – relentless women everywhere
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
According to my friends, I look like someone who never swears but that would be f*cking inaccurate.
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
Hamlet – Rhinoceros – When We Dead Awaken – Mud – anything by Suzan-Lori Parks
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
I co-wrote the biography of international choreographer/dancer/director Vincent Paterson (Madonna, Michael Jackson, Dancer in the Dark, Blond Ambition Tour, EVITA, etc.). The book drops August 8th with pre-orders currently available direct from the publisher: https://rarebirdlit.com/icons-and-instincts-choreographing-and-directing-entertainments-biggest-stars-signed-by-vincent-paterson-with-amy-tofte/ I’m so proud of this book which we have shaped into a larger story about what it means to be an artist.