Lisa Kirazian has quite a history with Playwrights Project. She won the California Young Playwrights Contest when she was in high school, had her play produced in Plays by Young Writers and is currently the Board President. She has been a full-time freelance writer for 13 years, and we are thrilled that she has written Switch, incorporating material from the Telling Stories: Giving Voice to Foster Youth program, running April 3-10, 2011 at the Lyceum Theatre.
How did you first become involved with writing?
I grew up writing poetry and stories and my father taught literature at a local college, so I was surrounded by writing all my life. Plus I acted in a lot of theater. But my first play was written as a result of Playwrights Project! I didn’t make an acting audition for Playwrights Project one year, and decided to forget that and write a play instead! So I wrote my first play in ninth grade and wrote one each year of high school, with the help of the Playwrights Project residencies at my high school which were taught by playwright Janet Tiger, who is still one of my dearest mentor-friends today…
When I was a senior in high school, I got to win the California Young Playwrights Contest too, and Playwrights Project produced my first play when I was 18! It was wild and amazing and made me think that maybe I could be a writer – for real!
What themes are involved in your piece?
The play looks at the foster care system from a lot of different points of view — the foster kids, the parents, the social workers, everyone who lives in that ‘world.’ The main themes are how we connect with each other and how we need to take charge of our own lives no matter what we’re facing. Instead of the play being about one person or one family, it consists of four actors playing many, many different roles in different scenes and monologues to create a ‘picture’ of the world of foster care.
What is the message you hope the audience takes away with them?
First of all, I hope people who don’t know much about foster care (which is most of us!) will walk away from the play feeling “Okay, now I have a clue about foster care. Now I see what they deal with every day.” And secondly I hope people can see both the hardship and the hope at the same time – that no matter how difficult things are in your own life, you always have power, always have choices…and you are never alone.
Do you plan to continue writing?
Yes! I’ve been writing since I was a teenager and don’t plan on stopping!!!
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I love this question! Because unlike the winning young playwrights from the festival, I’m grown-up. I’m 40 years old and am married to a great husband named Steve and have two beautiful young daughters, Ani and Mari. And I’m a professional writer with several plays produced and several writings published. But you NEVER completely grow up – you never stop learning and exploring. So…what do I want to be when I grow up? I want to be ALL I can be, as a woman and a writer!