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Interview with Tan’yeasia Brewster, writer of Some-Body for Program A of Play by Young Writers 2018

January 16, 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.

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Tan’yeasia with Artistic Director Ruff Yeager and Executive Director Cecelia Kouma

Tan’yeasia is a senior at Nuview Bridge Early College High School in Nuevo, California. Not a stranger to theatre, she’s performed in community theatre shows and is one of the leaders of her high school’s thespian troupe, 8117. After many years on the stage she is excited to be in the audience to watch her first play escape the page and come to life. Tan’yeasia plans on pursuing writing as a career and aspires to be a professional screenwriter.

Some-Body

By Tan’yeasia Brewster

Age 17, Moreno Valley

Directed by Ruff Yeager

How did you first get involved with writing?

Writing has been a part of my life for a very long time. As a child I loved to read books, and eventually I decided that I wanted to write my own. It wasn’t until 5th grade when my teacher read a short story I wrote and pulled me aside to tell me how much she enjoyed it, that I realized this was something that I truly wanted to do. I’ve been writing stories ever since.

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Tan’yeasia listens to Artistic Director Ruff Yeager and her dramaturg Tina Brown discuss elements of her script

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

I’m not really sure how Some-Body became a script. It was an incredibly slow process. As much as I would’ve appreciated to have just woke up one day with the idea in my mind, that’s not how it happened. The characters came first. Initially, Andrea wasn’t Andrea but a young girl named Drea. I floated her around many drafts with many different plots until she stuck to Some-Body.  I knew that I wanted a young character with ambition, naivety, and all the qualities some people wish they still had when they grew up. Around this time I also came up with Theo, but wasn’t entirely sure who he would be as I still didn’t have a plot. I just knew I wanted a story with a child that dealt with growth in some way. Within that, the idea of a body came into play. I wanted to have three children find a body and instead of telling the police, they play detective and come up with their own ideas about who this body could be.

What themes are involved in your piece? Your play focuses on three children who are processing their understanding of death, what fascinates you about this exploration?  

The theme for the story came right after I decided what characters I wanted to have. I wanted to write something that deals with a parallel between ambition and no ambition, young and old, alive and dead. When you’re young, you have your entire life ahead of you. You have ideas for a future, of who you want to be and what you want to do. Everyone is someone. Yet to Andrea, Marcus, and Theo this body is both no one and everyone all at once. It is Some-Body, but they’re just not sure who exactly. The body allows the children to think about all their sadness and wants. This body allows Andrea to grieve her Grandma’s death,  Theo to think about a father he never got to meet, and Marcus to realize how much he wishes his father was much more involved. I think it’s interesting to be someone at the very start of their life, coming to terms with someone who is at their end.

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A photo from rehearsal for Some-Body

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

Children’s emotions are valid. At some point in my life I have been Andrea, Theo and Marcus. I have been a child who has dealt with grief and sadness, but because I was a child my grief wasn’t validated. No matter the age, we all have pain, wants, and sadness. I hope this play makes the audience feel something. I hope it invokes some sort of emotion within them.

Do you plan to continue writing? What are your career goals and/or aspirations?  

I’m currently a senior in high school and it’s college acceptances/rejections season. I’ve decided to major in Screenwriting and am  hoping to get into film school. Regardless, I plan on writing screenplays and hope to find some success in creating stories for film.

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

Just do it. The hardest part of writing isn’t even writing. It is when you get too caught up in your own self-doubt that it becomes hard. It takes a long time to ignore the insecurities and the self-doubt and just write the story you’d want to hear/read/watch. In writing, Some-Body I wasted a lot of time deleting, rewriting, and completely scrapping ideas because I felt like they weren’t good enough. It was only when I allowed an idea to truly develop that I found some success in it. My advice is to let yourself go in the process.Focus on your story instead of the, “What if this isn’t good enough.” Because you’ll never know until you actually write it.

Are you currently working to develop any other plays?

I’m hoping to have my second play completed by January. It’s going to be another 30 minute one act, titled Placebo. I’m in the earlier stages of this play, so I’m not entirely sure what it’ll be about. So far it’s about a character who doesn’t know how to truly process emotions.

You use an intriguing theatrical devises in you play, how would you describe the style of your play? What inspired this style? Please share with us some pieces of your play’s development process.

The first scene that I wrote is the scene where Marcus, Theo, Andrea and the body begin to act out their own idea about who this body could be. This scene truly uses the suspension of disbelief, where we all know this isn’t actually happening but we pretend that it is regardless. The body isn’t really moving, but for a couple minutes it gets to. This scene kind of sums up what Some-Body is. It’s the  idea that everyone has a story– we may not know what it is exactly but we do know it’s something. I think we often make up stories for other people. In my normal life if I see a stranger driving in their car or walking on the sidewalk I like to imagine where they’re going, who they are, and what their goals are. I like that my characters are able to do the same thing.

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Tan’yeasia at a production meeting, talking about her vision for her play with Artistic Director Ruff Yeager (left) and Scenic and Properties Designer Mike Buckley (center)

Some-Body can be seen during Program A of Plays by Young Writers, on Saturday Jan. 20th at 7:30 PM and Saturday Jan. 27th at 7:30 PM. You may purchase tickets for Jan. 20th at 7:30 PM here and tickets for Jan. 27th at 7:30 PM here.

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

*Photo courtesy of Geri Goodale of Reminisce Photography.

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