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Interview with Sofia Miller, winner of California Young Playwrights Contest 2017

January 9, 2018

Playwrights Project will produce its 33rd annual festival of Plays by Young Writers at The Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre in the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center at The Old Globe on January 20 – January 27, 2018. The festival will feature winning scripts from its California Young Playwrights Contest for ages 18 and under.

Contest winners were selected from 432 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.

Sofia is a freshman at Westview High School and a member of the Creative Writing Club. While this was her first time writing a play, Sofia has had a passion for writing throughout her life. She will continue to develop her skills by writing both plays and novels. Sofia enjoys theatre immensely– some of her favorite musicals are In the Heights and Vanities. Her other creative outlets and interests include drawing, painting, and jewelry making. She aspires to write professionally as a future career.

A Life or Death Situation

By Sofia Miller

Age 14, San Diego

Directed by George Yé


How did you first get involved with writing?

I’m told that when I was in preschool, I would pick up books and make up my own stories from the pictures instead of listening to my mom read them. Storytelling and writing is something that has always been a strong presence throughout my life.

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

I don’t actually remember when the idea came to me, but I’ve always been interested in “what if” stories that personify intangible thoughts or ideas. Life and death are both fairly tangible, but I wanted to explore who they would appear as and how they would interact with each other.

What themes are involved in your piece?

My play involves the physical barriers that we often let divide us and how those divisions can heal.

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

I hope the audience will take away the importance of seeing beyond differences in order to come to an understanding of one another.

Do you plan to continue writing?

I plan to continue writing for hopefully the rest of my life. I want to inspire others with my words. Writing is no longer a hobby for me. It’s something that I feel I must do, which is why I’m currently working toward completing my first novel.

What do you want to be when you grow up, and why?

I know that writing will be a part of my future regardless of what career I choose. It’s such a challenging profession to be in, but there are stories inside me that I need to share.

What advice would you give to a peer as they embark on writing their first play?

Write faster than you think you can. I was assigned to write one scene  every two days as homework, and that crunch time was the best thing for me. If you don’t give yourself a deadline, you’re never going to start. So set a goal and write.

Are you currently working to develop any other plays?

I have some ideas for my next play and would like to submit to Playwrights Project next year. For now, my main focus will be on writing my novel.

You wrote A Life or Death Situation during a Playwrights Project residency at Black Mountain Middle School. Can you tell us about your time in the residency, who was your teacher and overall what was the most important thing you learned about writing a play? What has been a memorable moment from your revision process, whether it be within the classroom or working with your dramaturg Thelma deCastro?

I am extremely thankful that Ms. Gapusan, my teacher, and Ms. Waddell brought the Playwrights Project to our classroom. It was such a wonderful opportunity for all of the students to get creative and have their voices heard. In writing my play, I learned to pay attention to conflict and strain between characters (or between a character, if there’s an internal struggle) to engage the audience. During the revision process with Thelma de Castro, I learned that in a good play even the smallest lines play a part toward conveying a larger message.

I am so grateful for this incredible learning experience and the opportunity to work with professionals to improve my writing.

A Life or Death Situation can be seen during Program B of Plays by Young Writers, on Friday Jan. 26th at 7:30 PM, and on Saturday Jan. 27th at 2:00 PM. You may purchase tickets for Jan. 26th at 7:30 PM here and tickets for Jan. 27th at 2:00 PM here.

For more information, please contact Playwrights Project at (858) 384-2970 or Visit 

*Photo courtesy of Geri Goodale of Reminisce Photography.

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