Interview with Bekah Brunstetter, theatre and television writer
Bekah Brunstetter is a writer for both theatre and television. Her current projects include writing for MTV’sUnderemployed, ABC Family’sSwitched At Birth, Cutie and Bear with Roundabout Theatre, and a revival of her play Be A Good Little Widow (currently playing at The Wild Project in NYC).
Be A Good Little Widow, a surprising dark comedy that explores love, loss and everything that comes after, plays through September 22 at The Wild Project (195 East 3rd Street, between Avenue A and B). Click here for tickets!
For more on Bekah be sure to visit http://blog.bekahbrunstetter.com!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a writer? I’ve been a writer since I was 6, or at least, when I was 6, I declared to my parents that that’s what I was. I think it was always characters and the specifics of the people I’d create, everything from what they were scared of to what weird thing they were wearing, that drew me to writing. At first I illustrated everything that I wrote, but then I never got better at drawing, and continue to draw as well as any eight year old, so turned my focus to words, and fell in love with describing things.
2. What show or performer would you like to write for that you haven’t yet? I’d like to go back in Time and Write for Six Feet Under, and also Debra Winger pre-crazy.
Aamira Welthy in ‘Be A Good Little Widow”Matt Bittner and Aamira Welthy in “Be A Good Little Widow”3. What initially made you want to write Be A Good Little Widow? At that point in my life, I had never been to a funeral/lost a close loved one, and was terrified of having that experience, couldn’t stop wondering how I would behave myself if ripped open like that. Also, I had developed a random and crippling fear of flying, and I figured that writing about a plane crash would just make it too ironic for me to ever, you know, die in one 🙂
4. How does it feel to revisit the piece with this current revival? Honestly, I haven’t touched the script. I’ve learned that once a play has opened, it’s best to just let it be, even if you’ve identified its flaws. Minor tweaks for sure, but you tend to change as a person as years pass, and you can’t force the play to change with you, but rather, you should just let it be. But I’m so stoked the play is continuing to have a life!
5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Be A Good Little Widow? I hope that regardless of age or life experience, every audience member finds something universal about both Melody and Hope and what they’re going through / how they respond to tragedy. I hope they laugh and also perhaps cry.
6. In addition to Be A Good Little Widow, your show Cutie and Bear is going to be produced by Roundabout Theatre company and you are also a staff writer for ABC’s Switched at Birth and MTV’s Underemployed. What does it mean to you to have so much going on at one time? Being gainfully employed provides a nice sense of stability, which oddly enough, sometimes nurtures creativity and sometimes stifles it. I’m still writing and working on and thinking about plays whenever I can (just about to start a new play commissioned for South Coast Repertory) but I guess I’m still figuring out what it means to be a playwright who’s making their living in TV, in terms of schedule, and how to continue to be inspired in a more structured environment.
7. What attracted you to Switched at Birth and Underemployed? I love writing for teen and college age characters, as I feel like I’m just starting to understand how I functioned emotionally at those ages. I love the messes humans are then during those transitional, crazy times. As forUnderemployed, I was really excited to work for Craig Wright, who’d been one of my favorite playwrights. As for Switched at Birth, I love how much I’ve learned about the deaf community – the deaf characters/use of ASL are really what make the show specific, but at the same time, the characters are incredibly universal. I’ve been really lucky with both jobs!
8. What do you get from writing for theatre that you don’t get from writing for television and vice versa? With theater, the process is all about executing my vision, while with TV, it’s about executing the show runner’s vision (which I actually find incredibly liberating). I love being able to return to a play rehearsal process after working in TV: it puts me back in charge, but not in the way where I have to run a room of people. Also, in general, theater is more, well, theatrical. Illogical things can happen, random things can fall from the sky, people in different time periods can sing duets etc., and I cherish those moments – putting them in plays, figuring out how they work, teching those moments, seeing them come to life.
9. What the best advice you’ve ever received? Write about the things that terrify you. Dig deep to find out what these things really are, and write about them.
11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Invisibility, for sure! I’m always wondering what happens when I’m not around, or what people are like when they think they’re alone.
Photo Credit: Maggie TakyarMore on Bekah:
Bekah Brunstetter’s plays include Cutie and Bear (Upcoming, The Roundabout), The Oregon Trail (O’Neill Playwright’s Conference), A Long and Happy Life (Commissioned by Naked Angels), Be a Good Little Widow (The Old Globe, Ars Nova, Collaboraction), House of Home (Williamstown Theater Festival), Oohrah! (Atlantic Theater, Steppenwolf Garage / Livewire Productions), and Miss Lilly Gets Boned (Lark Playwrights Week, Finborough Theater, Ice Factory). She was a New York New Voices Fellow through the Lark Play Development Center, and was a member of The Primary Stages Writer’s Group and the Naked Radio writing team. She is an alumni of the Women’s Project writer’s Lab, the Ars Nova Play Group and the Playwright’s Realm. Bekah worked on MTV’sUnderemployed with Craig Wright and is currently a staff writer on ABC Family’s Switched at Birth.