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Interview with Alara Magritte Slonaker, winner of California Young Playwrights Contest 2015

December 16, 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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The Tangible Tollbooth

By Alara Magritte Slonaker

Age 17, San Mateo

Directed by George Ye

How did you first get involved with writing?

I’ve always been very drawn to creative innovation, and as a kid, I would make up songs and stories while I walked the dog or swept the porch. I cannot clearly remember a time when I wasn’t scribbling poetry and song lyrics on scraps of restaurant napkins – it’s always just been something I enjoyed. However, I didn’t start script writing until my sophomore year when it was a class assignment. Since then, I’ve grown to really adore and admire the form, and hope to do more in the future.

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

I’m really drawn to people and characters that don’t often have their stories told, and I wanted to capture that. I noticed the lack of time I spent regarding people who continuously contribute to my community, and one day while passing a toll on a bridge, I thought about what it’d be like to have your job be to insert yourself into the private (car) world of others. It grew from there.

What themes are involved in your piece?

My play deals with some very human and universal fears. The fear of betrayal, change, supposed supremacy, obsolescence. It’s a story rooted in human relationships; both between the characters and between the audience and the characters.

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

I hope that seeing my play will cause audience members to reexamine the relationships they hold with people they see every day but may have never thought of existing beyond consumer consumption purposes. I want people to begin to think twice about the complexity of people beyond their own need.

Do you plan to continue writing?

I believe so. I’m not sure in what medium- but the ability to create something out of thin air and form it into anything you want is pretty magical, I wouldn’t want to give that up.  When I spend time writing something I learn; both about the characters and about myself, and I think that’s a really unique experience, I’m a bit too selfish to stop.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I’m planning on studying Political Science and hope to go into government eventually. Although I could never give up my creative projects, which have always been a driving force in my life, so if in 40 years there’s a Congresswomen composing an a cappella musical- it’s probably me.

The Tangible Tollbooth can be seen during Program B of Plays by Young Writers, on Friday Jan. 29th at 7:30pm and Saturday Jan. 30th 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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