Script-in-Hand Series Gives First Look at Plays

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Plan-B Theatre’s Script-In-Hand series, launched in 2004, provides the first public audience for many plays. This season’s series has a festival vibe, with four workshops taking place over a four-week period, each culminating in a free public reading on Zoom.

Tatiana Christian’s “Radio Show” (they/them) is a genre horror piece that focuses on black characters but not black trauma. “Squeak” by Tito Livas (he/him) takes us on a journey across the spectrum through the eyes of a kindergarten child.

Plan-B Art Director Jerry Rapier asked them to share some thoughts on their process and pieces.

Tatiana Christian, what made you decide to get into playwriting?

A long time ago, an astrologer I followed online talked about writing a one-act play. I remember thinking that was very interesting. Over the years, I’ve thought about playwriting and how people were even doing plays.

When I moved to Park City I fell down a rabbit hole, not knowing how I got there and started traveling to Salt Lake City to see plays. The first piece I saw was “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City” at [Salt Lake Acting Company]and it was a comedy about this woman whose mother was in the hospital and she meets a guy whose mother is also sick (or dead).

I remember I liked it a lot because it was a play with only white characters but no racism. (Seeing art made by white creatives is especially difficult).

I moved to Salt Lake to see more pieces (which I did). I saw as many as I could, and seeing a few at the Plan-B Theater, I checked them out and read about the Theater Artists of Color Playwriting Workshop.

Even though I had no experience, I had written everything else (screenplays, comic scripts, short stories and half-finished novels), so I thought I’d see if/how I could participate. After a performance of “…Of Color”, I approached Jerry and asked him how I could participate. And it’s history after that!

What was the impetus to create your piece “Radio Show”?

I had seen “Lovecraft Country” and I really liked it. But I noticed that there were no black people writing cosmic horror. (Lovecraft was an outspoken racist and his cosmology is rooted in his fear/hatred of black people.)

Other than a short story, “The Ballad of Black Tom” by Victor Lavalle, there are no notable black cosmic horror writings that I could find. (“Lovecraft Country” is adapted from a novel written by HP Lovecraft, a white man.) (There is an anthology of cosmic horror writings that are almost exclusively by white women.)

This, in addition to the fact that there are so few speculative pieces produced, prompted me to attempt something very different from what I was used to seeing.

What scares you the most in your game?

Maybe his execution. I hope it works like a play and I didn’t shoot myself in the foot, so to speak.

What excites you most about your game?

How awful ! I think cults are interesting, I love monsters and I think it’s very different. I want to continue creating very rare works with supernatural elements.

Tito Livas, what made you decide to become a playwright?

I’m not really sure. Probably the same reason all other people pursue playwriting, to share my perspective and opinions in a way that hopefully speaks to others.

What was the impetus to create your piece “Squeak”?

I wrote “Squeak” because I have a son with ADHD and wanted others to understand what it can be like in his brain, and how best to interact with a child who is neurodivergent… not only for him but also for theirs.

What scares you the most in your game?

What scares me the most is being wrong. And people don’t get out of it what I hope they will.

What excites you most about your game?

My eldest son, and his ilk, see each other on stage.

Free but required tickets to the Script-In-Hand Series readings of Tatiana Christian’s “Radio Play” (October 1) and Tito Livas’ “Squeak” (September 24) on Zoom are available at planbtheatre.org – click The Plays. The series also features readings of “Tip Top Triangle” by Rachel Bublitz (September 17) and “Walmart’s Robots” by Jenny Kokai (October 8).

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