2011-2012 Season, Boom Artists, First Flight, Indie Theatre Community

Three Questions for Crystal Skillman

Crystal Skillman is the playwright of 4 EDGES, which gets a featured reading in the FIRST FLIGHT New Play Festival on November 18th.

1) What was your inspiration for writing 4Edges?

There’s a great photo essay by Jean Mohr in “Another Kind of Telling” where he shares photos of a woodcutter and his wife’s request to take his picture because “if he dies in the forest I won’t have a photo to remember him by”. I wanted to dive into that question and in doing so out spiraled a whole fictional country, and the character of Palmer being drawn into the rituals she becomes a part of, both finding and breaking apart the family that draws her in, as she herself is forced to change. There’s a lot of mystery and magic in the play, and just coming of age (I find our generation does so much later in life) for a woman growing older at odds with career and family. My personal journey has been that I love my family but I was taught to be very independent and actually question when family asks you do something – they both had issues with their own parents of course. 🙂 Growing up that way, and being an only child, and heck just being my geekish self, created an experience where I felt like I was always stumbling upon other rituals when going to other friend’s houses. I was fascinated by how other families had dinner, had certain functions, what they did together. That kind of Jungian going with it to adapt thing – on the journey following signs and symbols really found itself into the style of the writing. The key has been over the years to detail Palmers relationships to those she hurts and helps through her own struggle to find her way. It’s a play that has required writing it in layers – almost wearing it like a skin. Every new experience I’ve had of loss, joy and family seems to find it’s way in this play. It grows up as I do.

2) You were a photography major in undergrad, how much does that affect your work in general?

A lot! For me, a great photograph is about a small story in the middle of an epic one – achieving a moment. I work hard to achieve that sense of story telling in my plays as well. To really capture “the now” of a play and build it, create drama in the room that is truthful and personal. What’s very different about this play for me, why folks are drawn to it, as well as myself as I dig deeper, is that this play gets bigger and bigger as it goes in terms of the how the story unfolds. It tackles how we affect one another and our surroundings by one simple action in ways we couldn’t even imagine. It’s a play about love and the responsibility for that love, and those that care for you. It’s probably the biggest story I’ve tried to tackle in a play. I’m excited about being truthful to the experience of what photograph is, can do, and how images affects us. I love what director John Hurley has done too, we just worked in a workshop of the play, where we really get to see Palmer’s choices and how she approaches taking the pictures of the strange moments she’s a part of evolves. Like writing. when you’re lost in taking photos, it’s a magical experience. But the more you take photos, the more you understand, as much as you think you’re capturing something truthful, it’s always colored by your own perspective. So it’s personal! Just like great plays are to me, be they more “realistic” or fantastical.

3) When do you like to write? Early morning or late at night? And what do you always have to have with you when you are working?

Having gone to art school the greatest feeling is staying up all night – or at least til 3 jamming away. There’s something about working at night that is a triumph and then you get to wake up and feel brilliant until you reread what just wrote … tee. hee! I’m always listening to the different soundtracks I come up with for each play as I work as I work in my little hobbit hole-7 1/2-floor-like office (once just a boiler room), which faces a small window. On the ledge I cycle in different notes and little inspirational things folks have recently given me. There’s a photo of Fred (my hubby/fellow super writer) of course who while i write is jamming away upstairs on his own work!

The reading of 4 EDGES takes place on Friday November 18th at 7:30pm at ART/NY, 520 Eighth Avenue, 3rd floor. For reservations, please email literary@boomerangtheatre.org

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