In preparation for American Theater Company’s annual 10 x 10 Play Festival, I connected with the featured playwrights about their careers in the theatre, the relevant themes of the play(s), and the role of theatre as a tool for social change. Click here to learn more about the 10 x 10 Festival and please enjoy this wonderful interview with Bonnie Metzgar.
Jacqueline Lawton: Why did you decide to get into theatre? Was there someone or a particular show that inspired you?
Bonnie Metzgar: I grew up in a town with a dinner theater. The first show I ever saw there was SHOWBOAT. It was exciting, and kind of scary. Mostly, I loved the music. That’s how I came into the theater – I played saxophone in the pit band of musicals.
JL: Next, tell me a little bit about your writing process. Do you have any writing rituals? Do you write in the same place or in different places?
BM: I like to write in cafes. I choose a place and stick with it for the whole play. Right now, I’m working on two writing projects so I split my writing time between the Coffee Studio in Andersonville and Reno in Logan Square.
JL: Why was it important for you to be a part of American Theatre Company’s 10 x 10 Festival?
BM: As a white ally who also identifies as LGBTQ, I am committed to showing up for this movement to stop race-based police violence as a supporter in the streets, or as an artist creating cultural dialogue, as in ATC’s 10 x 10.
JL: Tell me about your plays I’m SO HUNGRY and I CAN’T BREATHE. What do you hope the audience walks away thinking about after experiencing it?
BM: That the gun pointed at a black man in America never goes away. It is always there every time a black man speaks to a white man, even if they are friends drinking a beer on a Friday night. White folks just doesn’t see it.
JL: What role does theater have in advocacy work?
BM: Theater gets bodies into rooms together. That’s the first step in creating change -- get us to look into each other’s eyes. Creating live work that sparks debate and outrage (and sometimes laughter) has been the aim of theater artists for centuries who are interested in social justice. Theater also can give a voice to those traditionally excluded from the mainstream media, and put them center stage.
JL: What next for you as a writer? Where can we follow your work?
BM: I will have a reading of a new play this summer at the Goodman Theater, along with the other members of the resident playwrights unit.
About the Playwright
Bonnie Metzgar is a playwright, director, dramaturg and producer. She is currently a member of the Goodman's 2014-15 Playwrights Unit. From 2008-2013, Metzgar served as Artistic Director of About Face Theatre and was proud to work on behalf of LGBTQ artists at a theater dedicated to advancing the national dialogue on sexuality and gender. In 2013-2014, Metzgar was awarded the Carl Djerassi Fellowship in Playwriting at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her play YOU LOST ME was a 2014 Finalist for the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Festival, and was selected for the 2014 Great Plains Theater Conference in Omaha. Currently, Metzgar is continuing work on a new performance piece commissioned by the NEA that was inspired by the life of trans Civil War soldier Albert Cashier with composer Tamara Roberts. Recent directing credits include LET ME DOWN EASY by Anna Deavere Smith starring Usman Ally at American Theater Company and WALK ACROSS AMERICA FOR MOTHER EARTH by Taylor Mac for Red Tape as part of the 2015 Garage Rep at Steppenwolf. Metzgar is on the National Advisory Committee for Howlround at Arts Emerson and has taught at a number of universities including Brown, University of Chicago and currently at DePaul. She received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Iowa and her BA from Brown.
10 outstanding playwrights tackle race, police brutality, and community in Ferguson, New York City, and around the world. 10 inspired directors bring their work to life.
Join us on March 9 at 7:30pm for a uniquely challenging one-night-only engagement at the American Theater Company, as we are proud to present our annual short plays festival, 10x10.
Tickets are free but seats will fill up fast. To make a reservation, send us an email at ATC10x10@Gmail.com. Due to high demand, we are only able to reserve up to two seats per request.
At the door, we suggest a $10 donation to help us cover the cost of supporting the festival, though we welcome you to pay what you can.
This Year's Playwrights:
Jeff Augustin. Kristiana Rae Colón. Matthew-Lee Erlbach. Jacqueline E Lawton. Bonnie Metzgar. Dominique Morisseau. Lucas Neff. A Rey Pamatmat. Akin Salawu. Aurin Squire.
Kaiser Ahmed. Grace Cannon. Amanda Delheimer Dimond. Matt Dominguez. Azar Kazemi. Reed Motz. Hutch Pimentel. Tlaloc Rivas. Samuel Roberson. Conner Wilson.
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I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!