Tuesday, March 12, 2013

5 Questions with Tammy Ryan

The 14th reading our FORUM "Soundings" series is LINDSEY'S OYSTER by Tammy Ryan. This reading will begin at 7pm on March 14, 2013, and will be held at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Dreyfuss Theatre, 285 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ. Click here for directions. Click here for a printable map of the campus (the Dreyfuss Theatre is located in Building 9). 

When 16-year old Lindsey, who is infatuated with Dylan, the captain of the Lacrosse team, finally “hooks-up” with him on a “date” one day, she soon finds out that she is pregnant. As might be expected, telling her parents and working through how she will handle her pregnancy take her to the edge of an emotional breakdown. But as she replays the fateful day in her mind, she realizes that there may have been more to the encounter than she originally understood. Ultimately, Lindsey’s Oyster is a play about how a young girl finds her footing, confidence, and self-esteem in a very complicated world.

Tammy Ryan’s plays have been produced across the country and internationally.   She won the Francesca Primus Prize in 2012 for her play Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods awarded by the American Theater Critics Association.  Her work has been developed, commissioned or produced at The Alliance Theater Company, Florida Stage, Premiere Stages, Playwrights Theater of New Jersey, Pittsburgh Playhouse, City Theater Company, Bricolage Production Company, the New Harmony Project and the Lark Play Development Lab among others, and has been featured at the National New Play Networks Showcase of New Plays.    Other honors include the American Alliance of Theatre in Education Distinguished Play Award, Jane Chambers Playwriting Award (honorable mention), David Mark Cohen Award (second place), the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Creative Achievement Award, The Heinz Endowments Creative Heights Residency Grant, and fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Sewanee Writers Conference and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.  She serves as the Pittsburgh regional representative for the Dramatists Guild of America. For more information go to:  www.tammyryan.net

1. What inspired you to write LINDSEY'S OYSTER?
Lindsey's Oyster was a commission from a theater company based in NYC and Cornell University called International Culture Lab.  The project was a commission for myself and a Turkish female playwright for each of us to write a one act play sparked by the concept of a "woman's body as battleground" and what that meant in each of our cultures.  The director wanted Zeynep Kacar, the Turkish playwright, to write something about the headscarf controversy in Turkey, but Kacar said we can't speak about that in public, that it was taboo. I asked myself what was the taboo in my culture, what is the thing we can't speak about and the answer I decided, is abortion.  Lindsey's Oyster is not about abortion, but about date rape,  another subject that is never really talked about. I have two daughters (aged 20 and 11) and worry for them in a culture that can use the term "legitmate rape."  I felt it was important to write about this subject from the point of view of the girl who doesn't realize what happened to her was rape.  I wasn't interested in getting bogged down in the abortion issue (the play is not a debate about abortion) so when I discovered in writing that Lindsey wants to get a tattoo I followed that journey as the path towards self realization for Lindsey as she learns that she controls the narrative of her own life.  The two one-act plays written for the commission were woven together and performed at The Kitchen in Ithaca, NY and at garajistanbul in Istanbul, Turkey under the title S/He both directed by Melanie Dreyer.  I developed my original one-act, into the longer version that will be read in the festival.

2.  You write for both adult audiences as well as young audiences. Is the process the same? If not, how is it different?
The process of writing a play, whether for adult or young audiences is exactly the same for me.  A play is a play and I'm always trying to tell a clear story with well developed characters who want something and run into conflict regardless of the audience it might be targeted for.  In fact I didn't think Lindsey's Oyster was necessarily for young audiences when I started writing it, except for the fact that the characters of Lindsey, her best friend and her boyfriend are 16 year olds and the subject, the world of the play and how the characters communicate (via texting and social media) is one young people, I think, would be interested in.

3.  Some of your plays are Ten Minute Plays. What do you enjoy about writing a Ten Minute Play?
I enjoy the brevity of a ten minute play.  Full length plays take a long time for me to think about, research, process, write and rewrite.  The ten minute play can often be written in one sitting.  They're great as exercises and to keep your writing practice going.  Also some subjects are better suited to  the form.  I like to try something new when I'm writing a ten minute, since I find it's easier to sustain experimenting in the shorter form.  I also find they are a great teaching tool.

4. Your plays have been produced across the country and internationally. Where is the farthest you have traveled to see one of your plays on stage?
Although I have had plays performed as far away as Istanbul, Turkey and also last year several of my short plays were performed in Tokyo, Japan, the farthest I've traveled to see one of my plays was San Francisco, California.

5. What movie always makes you laugh out loud?
A movie that always makes me laugh out loud is any movie with Ben Stiller in it.

♦ Playwrights Theatre will present these readings free of charge, with an optional donation of $10

♦ A $25 dollar donation will get you a FORUM pass that covers all of the readings.

♦ A $250 donation will get you a rehearsal pass that allows access to all reading rehearsals.

♦ Reservations can be made online at or call (973) 514-1787 X10
Click here to reserve your seat to see LINDSEY'S OYSTER.

You can also find additional information on our website about the entire FORUM reading series.


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