Plays for Two is a unique anthology of twenty-eight terrific plays for two actors, by a mix of celebrated playwrights and cutting-edge new voices. I had the pleasure of speaking with playwright Cori Thomas about her play, Waking Up, her advice for emerging playwrights, and upcoming work.
JACQUELINE LAWTON: Why did you decide to get into theatre? Was there someone or a particular show that inspired you?
CORI THOMAS: When I was in the 6th grade I saw a highschool production of The Glass Menagerie. I was pretty shy and felt awkward and I felt like I was seeing myself on stage. I couldn't believe how involved I became in that story and just wanted to be a psrt of that world of escape and being moved. Being able to move people the way I was moved.
JL: 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?
CT: I don't write from a plan or outline. I rarely write a play knowing the plot or story even. I usually just start at the beginning and let it take me where it wants to. If I had no day job, I would treat writing as a job and wake up and write all day. I have gone on writers retreats and had times when I was not working and had no problem doing that. Because I do have a day job, I write when I can.
JL: Can you tell me about the play that’s being published in Plays for Two?
CT: Waking Up is about 2 women one in Africa, one in The USA who both end up with breast cancer. They don't know each other and never meet each other. Their experiences are parallell very different and very alike in surprising ways.
JL: What excited you about being a part of this anthology?
CT: It is always exciting to be published. I was thrilled to be invited to be a part of the anthology.
JL: What advice do you have for up-and-coming playwrights?
CT: Write as much as you can, and stay out of your own way. Don't judge what you write. Certainly not while you're writing. Try to finish a draft before you start fiddling with it. And better yet try to get it read before beginning rewrites. Expect to rewrite! Join a writing group and listen to fellow playwrights read it aloud. Or if you have actor friends ask them to read it for you and feed them dinner. It is invaluable to hear your work aloud. Plays are meant to be acted. Don't give up. Keep at it. When you finish one play, start another. Don't wait for anything.
JL: What next for you? Where can we follow your work?
CT: I have a production of a full length play coming up end of May at Ensemble Studio Theatre. It's a co-production with Page 73 Productions. The title is WHEN JANUARY FEELS LIKE SUMMER it was at the Sundance Theatre Lab and its World Premiere was at City Theatre Company in Pittsburgh. I am very excited to have this play seen in New York. It's a very "New York" play.
About the Playwright
Cori Thomas is a playwright and actress. Plays: When January Feels Like Summer; Pa’s Hat; My Secret Language of Wishes; Akosua Means Sunday;The Princess, The Breast, and, The Lizard; The Unusual Love Life of Bedbugs and Other Creatures; Waking Up; His Daddy; our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. Thomas’ plays have been developed and produced at Sundance Theatre Lab, Goodman Theatre, City Theatre Company (Pittsburgh), Page 73, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Playwrights Horizons, Lark Play Development Center, The Ensemble Studio Theatre, Going To The River, Pillsbury House Theatre, Mixed Blood Theatre, Penumbra Theatre, Passage Theatre, The Playwrights Realm, New Federal Theatre, New Georges, The Black Rep (St. Louis), The New Black Fest, and Queens Theatre in the Park. She has been commissioned by South Coast Rep Theatre, Sloan Foundation/EST, NYSCA/EST, Pillsbury House Theatre. She has received a grant from the Jerome Foundation and has been a Sundance Institute Fellow and a MacDowell Fellow. Publications: (Smith and Krauss Best short plays 2010) His Daddy. Awards and Honors: Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, 2008 Sundance Theatre Lab Fellow, and 2011 American Theatre Critics Association Osborn Award ; Theodore Ward Prize
About the Anthology
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!