LAFPI is pleased to be partnering with our friends at Broads’ Word Ensemble for LA Broads, a reading festival of short plays by (go figure!) LA female playwrights, directed by women. We love Broads’ Word – a group of femmes who truly walk the walk – and are looking forward to hearing stories of “perseverance, recovery, and unconventional podcasts.” We also (of course!) wanted to find out more about the writers. So we handed it over to the Broads’ Word ladies to come up with questions, and put them to the six ladies with works in the festival: Nayna Agrawa (Slut), Tiffany Cascio (Popcast & About Your Mother), Allie Costa (How I Knew Her), Aja Houston (Remembrance), Uma Incrocci (Roadside Alice) and Starina Johnson (Border Towns & All Kinds).
Broads Word Ensemble: What’s your experience been like, being an playwright (who happens to be a woman) in Los Angeles?
Nayna Agrawal: Humbling! Particularly as a chubby Asian gal with a mustache.
Tiffany Cascio: I have found the theatre scene in Los Angeles to be very welcoming. I moved here four years ago and was lucky to meet the wonderful and supportive playwrights and actors of LAFPI & PlayGround LA right away. This year I participated in Hollywood Fringe which opened my world up to even more fabulous theatre makers, including the Broads’ Word Ensemble team, so I definitely feel like I’m part of a community now. I’m incredibly inspired by them and feel very encouraged to keep writing!
Allie Costa: I’ve been a performer and a storyteller since day one. As a kid, if I wasn’t acting, singing, or dancing, I was writing, reading, or directing. The same can be said today. There’s nothing I love more than being on set or on stage. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my career because there are multiple opportunities here for multi-hyphenates. I am grateful for those who have paved the way, and I try to pay it forward and hire other women every chance I get.
Aja Houston: I am blessed to be a part of a great cohort of talented, supportive grad students at USC. I love having the safe space to create fearlessly. Since being in Los Angeles, for a year now, I have had a play commissioned for a rehearsed reading at Playwright’s Arena and a short play, Floating on Credit, published by The Dionysian Literary Magazine. I am still very aware that as a Black female playwright there is a lot of work to do and I am more than up to the task!
Uma Incrocci: Although I’m an LA native, I’m new to playwriting in LA as my writing has only been produced in New York so far. I’m excited to be kicking off my Los Angeles experience with this reading!
Starina Johnson: I’ve somehow managed to surround myself with very thoughtful, supportive, and positive people in the world of Los Angeles playwrights. I think I’ve been very lucky in that regard.
Broads’ Word: In 6 words or less, what are your plays about?
Nayna: Post-abortion, practicing English to Wheel of Fortune
Tiffany: Love, loss and podcasting. And family secrets spilled.
Allie: Strangers cross paths in a graveyard.
Aja: A couple’s rituals of grief.
Uma: First woman to drive across America
Starina: For Border Towns – Living. And for All Kinds – Being true to yourself.
Broads’ Word: How did this topic come up for you and evolve into this play?
Nayna: Personal experience (sigh).
Tiffany: Popcast was my response to people labeling the dumped “crazy,” just because they can’t get over their exes. And family secrets and “choosing” your family is something I write about quite a bit; About Your Mother was me having fun with that.
Allie: The idea for this script came to me while I was watching the television show Rectify. There was a scene in which the main character visited a graveyard, and I thought, What if someone had been at the grave when he arrived? And the rest is history.
Aja: I wrote this play four years ago because I needed healing from the trauma of the killings of so many black boys like Trayvon Martin. I wanted to assert their humanity, their souls, their right to love, their right to live, and to be more than a body to be discarded like refuse.
Uma: At the Smithsonian, I noticed this small plaque about Alice Huyler Ramsey – the first woman to drive across the USA. There was this amazing photo of her and the other women who made the trip in 1909, in an open car on a dusty road in their dresses and flowered hats. I quickly became fascinated with her and her story.
Starina: Border Towns was a concept I’d had for awhile, but couldn’t quite figure out how to make it work. It was a short play notice that made me realize the best way to put the idea on the page.
The story the doctor tells at the end is 100% true; I actually said that to one of the resident doctor’s when my mother was dying and made him cry. I still feel really bad about that. I don’t think anyone likes making people cry, but I like to think that conversation with me gave him a different perspective on the concept of treating patients.
All Kinds actually started out as a short film that I thought would have more impact as a play. I like to think of terrible situations then try to figure out what could possibly make that situation worse. For me this is the worst case scenario for these characters.
Broads’ Word: Do you have any upcoming productions or news to share? And if LA theatermakers want to reach out about your plays, where would they find more information about you?
Aja: I have a developmental production at The Inkwell Theatre of my play Journey to Alice, in February 2018. My website is www.ajahouston.net.
Uma: I organize a monthly reading series of new plays and screenplays at For Actors By Actors, an acting school in Hollywood. We are always looking for new scripts to read and would love to hear from LA writers. My screenplay Kris & Noelle (a holiday movie about how Santa and Mrs. Claus first met) will be performed on December 10th. Visit umaincrocci.com.
Starina: My short play, Static, is featured in NEO Ensemble Theatre’s production Tales from the Scrypt, running October 6th-22nd at The Underground Theatre. Tickets and more information are available here: www.neoensembletheatre.
Broads’ Word Ensemble’s Executive Director Tara Donovan produces LA Broads; the plays are directed by Elkin Antoniou, Lesley Asistio, June Carryl, Gloria Iseli, Rachel Manheimer & Rasika Mathur. Performances are Saturday, October 14th at 8:00 pm and Sunday, October 15th at 2:00 pm at the Flight Theater at The Complex Stages in Hollywood. For tix and info visit www.BroadsWordEnsemble.com.