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Interview with Lani Kording, winner of California Young Playwrights Contest 2015

November 30, 2015

Playwrights Project will produce its 31st annual festival of Plays by Young Writers, sponsored by the Sheila and Jeffrey Lipinsky Family Fund, at The Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre in the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center at The Old Globe on January 23 – January 31, 2015. The festival will feature winning scripts from its California Young Playwrights Contest for ages 18 and under.

Contest winners were selected from 269 plays submitted by students from across the state. Four scripts will receive full professional productions, and two scripts will receive staged readings in this highly regarded festival of new voices.

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Quarter Cup

By Lani Kording

Age 17, Costa Mesa

Directed by Ruff Yeager

How did you first get involved with writing?

I’ve been writing ever since I was little. In first and second grade, I would write down jokes I thought were funny (in reality, they probably weren’t) and put them into little plays I “directed” my friends in. I wrote down little mini plays and short stories for a long time after that, though I didn’t think much of it. At that time, I thought I was going to be an actor. I was fully convinced that I would be singing and dancing on Broadway one day. My mom often took me to New York City to see shows, and I fell in love with theatre. I thought the only way I could be a part of it was to be on the stage. My elementary school self didn’t comprehend the idea of a creative team behind the cast. However, when I saw In the Heights in 2008, I was entranced by the words and was inspired to be a playwright. I’ve been writing plays ever since.

How did you come up with the idea for your script?

I usually have a plan set out for when I write a play, but I didn’t for this one. Honestly, I thought it was just gonna be a monologue from the perspective of a teacher. After reading a couple of plays that have a sort of fragmented style, I continued writing and ended up with Quarter Cup. 

What themes are involved in your piece?

There are many themes involved in my piece, including family, education, coping mechanisms, and moving forward. I think there might be some more in there. I also think it varies, depending on the person. Plays should be about many different themes and ideas, not just one singular thing. I think Annie Baker (one of my favorite playwrights) said something about that.

What is the message you hope the audience takes away with them?

I’ve struggled with this question. I really have. Personally, there isn’t one singular message I’d like my audience to leave with. Actually, there isn’t anything in particular I’d like them to leave with, as long as they leave with something. Something that meant something to them, something that made them laugh, or even something that they found odd, as long as they think about it at all.

Do you plan to continue writing?

Yes! I write a lot. There’s a musical called Hamilton, and in the song “Non-Stop” Aaron Burr says, “Why do you write like you need it to survive?” That line is pretty accurate to my life.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I would love to be a playwright and a screenwriter! I love both so much. I’m definitely going to pursue both. There’s nothing else I want to do.

Quarter Cup can be seen during Program A of Plays by Young Writers, on Saturday Jan. 30th at 7:30pm and Sunday Jan. 31st at 2pm. 

For more information and reservations, please contact Playwrights Project at (858) 384-2970 or write@playwrightsproject.org. Visit http://www.playwrightsproject.org/productions/pbyw/. 

*Photo courtesy of Geri Goodale and Reminisce Photography.

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