Fiction, Monologues, Plays & More
Here at Eclectic Voices, we are just as interested in the behind-the-scenes madness of creative minds as we are in the final product. So, we decided to offer you some juicy interviews with movers and shakers in the creative worlds of literature, theatre and film. This issue features Eclectic Voices Writer & Co-Coordinator Chelsea Sutton. Enjoy!
Eclectic Voices: So, how’d you get involved in Eclectic Voices? Chelsea Sutton: When I first moved out to Los Angeles, I was looking for an artistic home. I joined a theater called The Eclectic Company Theater and started directing and producing…but what I really have always been is a writer. So I created a writers group at the theater to create a writer community for myself, so I could share things and grow into a better writer. It was selfish really. Eventually we dubbed the group Eclectic Voices (a name I stole from Taylor Ashbrook.)
EV: What are you working on right now?
CS: I’m working on several things actually – in the immediate future, I’m working on three plays: Falling Slanted, Sad and Crazy with The Vagrancy, The Graveyard Shift with Skylight Theater Company’s Playlab, and The Many Deaths of Kassie McGreevy, which I started last year with Eclectic Voices. Starting in July, I’ll be working with Brimmer Street Theatere Company to develop a new play called Judy Presley on a Binge. I’m also a fiction writer, so I’m working on my obligatory novel and short stories.
EV: What was your inspiration for your current project?
CS: For The Many Deaths of Kassie McGreevy – well, I just got the funny idea of a girl who dies all the time and then comes back to life, and what kind of problems that would cause her. Half of the play is very out-there funny stuff – I mean, you can’t have a girl die multiple times on stage without it being rather funny – but in this first draft I have, it got a little dark by the end, which is my usual territory. My rewrites will have to bring some of that funny back. I mean – what’s funnier than death? Am I right? I may or may not be obsessed with Pushing Daisies, if that gives you a clue.
EV: What is the most exciting thing about writing and/or theater?
CS: Hearing your work out loud or having people you don’t know read it, and connecting with people, having a shared experience. Having the, “hey, I feel the same way. I get it,” moment.
EV: What is the most terrifying thing about writing and/or theater?
CS: The same as above. Really.
EV: Who are some of your writer heroes?
CS: Kurt Vonnegut, Sarah Ruhl, Paula Vogel, Naomi Iizuka, Edward Albee, Anne Garcia-Romero, Caryl Churchill, Tom Stoppard, Luis Alfaro, Sheila Callaghan, Samuel Beckett, JD Salinger, Karen Russell, Kelly Link, Aimee Bender, Karen Joy Fowler, David Foster Wallace, Sam Shepard, Ray Bradbury. And all the writers I’ve worked with in my groups the past several years and close writer friends of mine.
EV: What or who inspires you to write?
CS: My tribe of crazy creative types. Also just…well, it’s how I try to figure things out and organize my feelings. So just…being alive, I suppose. I want to put it all down and keep it forever. I get very sentimental about things. I don’t want to forget anything.
EV: What advice do you have for other writers just starting out?
CS: I’m still starting out too, but…write. A lot. Take every opportunity that comes your way. Meet people. Learn how to do all the other jobs in a theater – direct something, do the marketing for a show, stage manage, get on stage and do a monologue, design costumes. Do it all! Write. Find your tribe, people you can create with and fail with. Produce your own work at least once. Write something outside of your comfort zone. Listen to the critics, glean what you can from their reviews, politely thank them for spending quite a bit of time thinking about your work, and quickly throw out all those negative thoughts that will otherwise haunt you. Submit everywhere, to everything. Write.
EV: If you could change one thing about theater or the writing world, what would it be?
CS: I wish we could redefine what “producible” means for a play. It seems almost impossible to get a play produced if it has more than four characters and runs longer than 90 minutes. Producers and fellow writers have told me this many times, in fact. If it has a big cast it better be a musical – and one with a built in fan base. If the writer is unknown and a woman, producers seem even less inclined to seriously tackle the material – the studies done in Los Angeles alone by the LA Female Playwrights Initiative show that women playwrights are produced at a lower rate than their male counterparts. And if you don’t have an MFA or live in New York, it’s almost impossible to be taken seriously as a playwright. And if you do get a production, getting the second or third is hard because everyone wants the world premiere – because a world premiere is marketable. I hope that if the next Great American Play came along that happened to have twelve characters, there would be a producer willing to put it out into the world. But I can’t help be cynical about it. Even our mid-size and large theaters in LA produce small cast and one person shows more often than anything else. It’s just a financial reality right now. For publishing, it’s a lot of the same issues as far as women writers go. That’s more than one thing.
EV: Plugs please:
CS: My play Falling Slanted, Sad & Crazy will be in the Blossoming Play Reading Series this summer with The Vagrancy July 20 at 7pm. And Eclectic Voices will be hosting its first reading festival of all our writers’ new plays August 3 – 13, and The Many Deaths of Kassie McGreevy will be read in that one. Also, I’ve had a couple stories published recently: The Parts of Me in The Cactus Heart and The Tick and the Tocking in Bourbon Penn.
Thanks for Talking with us Chelsea!
To read some of Chelsea’s work on Eclectic Voices, check out her blog posts, her fiction The End, Not My Body, and Spongy Wude, and her monologues The Real Thing and Lily.
More About Chelsea:
Chelsea Sutton holds a BA in Literature from The College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara. Her plays have had readings and productions in Santa Barbara, New York and Los Angeles and she is currently participating in workshops with the Skylight Theatre Playlab and The Vagrancy Writers Group, as well as spearheading ECT’s writers group, Eclectic Voices. Her play The Dead Woman, was recently named a Semifinalist in the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference 2013 and PlayPenn Conference 2014 and a finalist for the Stanley Drama Award and finalist for the Woodward/Newman Drama Award. Her fiction has appeared in The Best of Farmhouse Magazine, The Catalyst, Spectrum, NYC Midnight, Fictionade, Bourbon Penn and The Cactus Heart. She was the 2011 Winner of NYC Midnight’s Flash Fiction Contest. Her story The Tick and the Tocking received Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers. She is a member of the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative. WithCoffeeSpoons.com