Each year at NewFest, the winner of the 2008 Rod Parker Playwrighting Award gets the chance to see their play produced and performed on stage. This year, the prize went to The Rubik's Cube playwright Kimberly Barrante, a senior Writing, Literature and Publishing and Theater Studies double major from Cheshire, CT.
Berkeley Beacon: What are some of the inspirations for your play?
Kimberly Barrante: When I set out to write this play, I didn't set out to write about illness or death. I wanted to write about friendship. I've always been fascinated by stories of loyalty and devotion-it's a different kind of love. It's a kind of love that gets overlooked these days or put in a different category.
Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead was an inspiration for the characters. Another inspiration was Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.
BB: You said this play is a dark comedy with British people-what were the inspirations for that?
KB: I've always loved British comedy. I grew up with Monty Python. If you love Monty Python, I hope to hell you like this. I wrote it with Eric Idle in mind. This is my desperate attempt to create that quick banter that they're famous for. Also just the random stuff in that show.
For instance, there's a frozen chicken in my play. My dramaturg asked me why there was a frozen chicken in my play, and I couldn't give her a symbolic response. Dead chickens are funny. It's funny because I'm not even preoccupied with death; the play just steered itself that way.
BB: What was the writing process like for you?
KB: I wanted to write something different and to challenge myself. I wrote the play in Andrew Clarke's playwriting class in spring of my sophomore year, so I've been working on it ever since. It's gone through many, many drafts and will again after this. I don't know if it'll ever be finished. The play started as a bunch of inspirations from other places. The more drafts, the more it became "me." The more drafts, the more internal it becomes, the more it becomes your own.
BB: Any advice for aspiring Emerson playwrights?
KB: The hardest part is getting started. The second hardest part is rewriting the first draft. It's really hard because it seems like everything is too interwoven to touch, but you can always put things back together when you break them apart.
BB: How does it feel, having something you wrote performed on stage?
KB: It's a very surreal feeling to have something you've been working on for so long be performed. It's like having a child or something. It's also really easy not to recognize what you wrote, that it came from you.
BB: What do you hope the audience will take away from it?
KB: I want them to see whatever they get out of the play. I didn't write it with a specific message in mind. It's important to have that room for interpretation. If the play only says on thing, it can only be done once. To be alive, it needs to be applicable to many times and many people. I want it to inspire whatever it's meant to inspire.