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Tow Foundation Playwright-in-residence: Chisa Hutchinson


Originally published on HowlRound Blog

The Tow Foundation’s Playwright-in-Residence at Second Stage Theater, Chisa Hutchinson, discusses her residency and upcoming play, Somebody’s Daughter:

Talk a little about what being in a residency means to you as an artist and how the notion of residency influences your artistic practice.
Residencies in general are pretty effing sweet. The idea that a company believes in you enough to heap resources upon you—time, space, money, attention—is enormously reinforcing. It makes you feel like what you do is useful or valuable to society in some way, a feeling typically reserved for astronauts and cancer researchers. It can give you a certain swagger, you know? The confidence you need to create your best work. And also the determination to give those supporting you a good return on their investment, make them proud that they’re associated with you.

What are you working on during your residency?
Lawd, what am I not working on? In addition to polishing up Somebody’s Daughter, the play that Second Stage will be producing in the spring, I’m writing a play for REP Theater in Delaware, gearing up to adapt a play for the screen, developing two TV series ideas, and revising a pilot.

Beyond writing, I’m trying to be proactive about connecting with other theatre professionals, hosting round-table discussions about things like how to be a better collaborator and how to create opportunities for myself. One of those discussions is going to be featured in The Dramatist in January, in case anyone’s interested. Because part of being a better collaborator is sharing, right?

How do you define home as a playwright? How important is it to have a place you call your ‘artistic home?’
An artistic home for me is all about the people. I need three types of people in my artistic homes:

1. Fierce advocates. Folks who are not just willing, but happy to connect me with other people, places, and resources that might advance my work.

2. Kind, thoughtful people who know how to talk about new plays in such a way that prioritizes the playwright’s vision.

3. Ruthless motherfuckers who’ll shoot straight when I do something ill-advised or just plain ol’ out of line.

I need all of those. I’d argue that all artists do. I’ll also mention here that Chris Burney is all three of those for me at Second Stage.

What are your aspirations as a playwright? When you imagine yourself ten years from now, where are you and what are you doing?
Okay, no joke: My biggest aspiration as a playwright is to get to a point in my career where I’ve got no aspirations but the play in front of me. That’s it. Right now, I’m like, “Yeah, I’m published, but only a couple of plays and monologues,” and “Yeah, I’ve won some awards, but a Pulitzer would establish the shit out of me.” I think I just want to be in a space where I’m free to simply enjoy the work I’m doing without constantly thinking about next steps. I’m getting there, I think. Maybe.”