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Insights from Deborah Salzer, Dramaturg and Playwrights Project founder

January 6, 2016

Deborah Salzer founded Playwrights Project in 1985 and led the organization for 22 years. She has produced over 100 new plays, written the playwriting curriculum Stage Write, and now teaches educators and youth. Trained in acting and dance, she’s a graduate of Oberlin College and the Bank Street College of Education.

Deb Headshot-Randy

Deborah is the dramaturg for Alara Margritte Slonaker’s play The Tangible Tollbooth (Program B). Below are a few of Deborah’s thoughts on the process.

Tell us briefly about another theatre project (or projects) you’re working on outside of Plays by Young Writers.

In February I will teach a Recollections workshop for Playwrights Project.  I also work with fifth graders at Doyle Elementary School, teaching drama and dance.

How does your work in the festival differ from your other work?

The Festival is unique because I work with one writer continuously over four months. The “curriculum” is shaped by the writer’s needs.  It is unpredictable and evolves as we work. In other situations, I support writers as they create first drafts. For the Festival my support extends through the entire production process. I help her collaborate with her director and designers, especially when she encounter elements new to her, such as the staging challenges inherent in an arena space.

How do you define your role in the Plays by Young Writers production process?

My role is to mentor the writer as she moves through the revision and production process. This includes being a sounding board for her concerns; asking questions; guiding her to strengthen her script; helping her clarify her vision; and doing factual and/or historical research if needed. Because she lives out of town, I am her eyes and ears at rehearsals.

What is your favorite part about being involved with Plays by Young Writers?

I love it all and have done so for thirty-one years.

What do you hope the young playwrights will learn from this experience?

I hope they learn that creating good theatre is a thrilling collaborative process.

Thank you, Deborah!

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 Visit 

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