The Fire This Time Festival, focusing on the experience of African American artists and audiences, takes place this year from January 15-28. The festival provides a platform for emerging African American writers to have their works produced and shown to the world. We want you to meet some of the playwrights in the week leading to the festival. Here's Charly Simpson, whose play The House will be performed as part of Fire This Time's 10-minute play series.
Describe your play. It's _______ meets ______.
The House is a weird little play about siblings coming together to make a decision. It’s family drama meets foggy impressionist landscape painting.
How did you first realize you wanted to become a playwright?
I think I waffled for a long time. I think I wasn’t sure playwriting and the theater would accept me. I wasn’t sure if I was good enough. But three years ago, years after I started writing plays, I was in the audience when a short play of mine went up. There was a collective gasp from the audience at a certain point in the play. It hit me that my words could affect people and that it was…a wonderfully strange and lovely feeling that I craved and wanted forever. I knew then I couldn’t give this up. I had to keep working.
Mention one play you think is flawless.
I’m not sure I think any play is actually flawless…and I kind of like that. But I do think there have been plays that when I first encountered them, they seemed flawless due to how much I loved them. The first play I was in and read that made me really think theater was special was A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare.
Who is your favorite character in a play?
The Moon in José Rivera’s References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot.
What does your perfect place for writing look like?
A cozy couch with a warm blanket and a nearby table to put down my cup of tea OR a table at a co-working space, surrounded by a lot of other people working. It depends on my mood and how much I need to buckle down and get to work.
How do you know when your play is "done”?
When I feel like the changes I am making aren’t adding anything to the play…that is when I know I need to let a director, actors, and designers play with my script. Maybe a few changes will happen after that—but at some point, you just have to let a play breathe and exist.
What's one line of dialogue you're really proud of having written?
“Night. Nice. Have one.” - it is a silly line from my play Jump, but it makes me laugh and usually makes some folks in the audience laugh and it reminds me why I love this weird thing called theater.
What actor (male or female) would you love to have do one of your plays?
What is the meaning of being part of The Fire This Time Festival for you?
It means getting to be a part of a community of artists of color all making and dedicated to producing and supporting amazing, strong work.
What is your biggest wish for the theatre community in 2018?
That we keep dreaming up new worlds and work that provide opportunities for the stories usually ignored, to come to light.
For more information on The Fire This Time Festival click here.