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Interview with Savannah Spatafora, writer of “Idiot, I’m Great” for Plays by Young Writers 2018

January 19, 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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Savannah is from New York City and is now a senior at John Burroughs High School in Burbank, California where she has lived for the last 7 years. She was a semi-finalist at the Blank Theater’s Young Playwright’s Festival and won the Young Arts Foundation Competition in the Writing/Plays or Scripts category. She would like to thank her cat, Momo, for always sleeping on her computer keyboard while she was trying to write this play. She plans to continue writing forever and keep being awesome.

Idiot, I’m Great

By Savannah Spatafora

Age 16, Burbank

Directed by George Yé

How did you first get involved with writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember but really got serious about it around six years ago. I started at an acting studio and began to realize that meaningful scenes for young people are few and far between, so I decided to write some of my own.  Later, our studio started a writing lab so I slowly began to write monologues and then eventually scenes and plays.

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

I came up with this idea because I think we all, as a society, have expectations of how things should be, whether that’s relationships or even just life in general. So in this play I was really trying to explore what happens when you realize that not everything can be so controlled and precise.

What themes are involved in your piece?

I think the main thing really is the sort of perception of how someone imagined their life would turn out and also just the kind of confrontation young teens have with their own sense of meaning and purpose. Also boys are weird.

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Savannah laughs while discussing her play with director George Ye (left) and Scenic and Properties Designer Mike Buckley (right).

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

Just that you really can’t make someone the way you want them to be. You have to just be okay with who they are. Also there’s nothing wrong with strong girls who know what they want.

Do you plan to continue writing?

I absolutely do. I’ll be going to college next year and I hope to study playwriting or film/television writing. It’s pretty safe to say at this point that writing is “my thing” so I think I’m going to stick with it.

What are your career goals and/or aspirations?  

I would love to be able to write for TV and Film while also writing and producing plays on the side and possibly directing too. I also would love to start a sanctuary for cows, but that’s unrelated.

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

So many people wonder how to start a play and my advice is pretty simple (and I may or may not have plagiarized it from Nike): Just do it. There’s no easy way to start a play. Just start writing and make it happen.

Are you currently working to develop any other plays?

I actually just finished the first draft of another play Brace Yourself and am starting work on a short film adaptation of another scene I wrote.

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Backstage, Savannah and actor Ramon Villa explore subtleties of Idiot, I’m Great‘s William.

 Our contest evaluators have described your writing as “original and provocative,” and your unique voice materializes strongly through your characters’ dialogue. How would you describe your journey of “finding your voice” as a playwright? If you have found inspiration in other writers or artists, how has that influenced your process?

Honestly, I’m still developing my voice as a writer and I really think it is an ever-evolving process because so many things affect how I write and it changes from day to day. I do acknowledge that I have a unique voice, though. I think a lot of that came out of me not caring about what anyone thinks except myself. Also, one of my biggest writing goals in general is to write plays where characters talk like “real people” so anyone watching the show can say, “Hey they actually talk like my friends and I do in real life”.

Idiot, I’m Great can be seen during Program B of Plays by Young Writers, on Saturday Jan. 20th at 7:30 PM, on Friday Jan. 26th at 7:30 PM, and on Saturday Jan. 27th at 2:00 PM. You may purchase tickets for Jan. 20th at 7:30 PM here, tickets for Jan. 26th at 7:30 PM here, tickets for Jan. 27th at 2:00 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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