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Meet Darcy Parker Bruce! Darcy’s plays have been produced or developed at Dixon Place, Great Plains Theater Conference, The Bechdel Group, 20% Theatre Chicago, and NYC's Fresh Fruit Festival, among others. She holds an MFA in Playwriting from Smith College and is currently teaching playwriting at Eastern Connecticut State University. You can find Darcy at http://darcypbruce.wixsite.com/darcyparkerbruce
Tell us about your experience working with the Bechdel Group.
I am so grateful for having been able to develop my play Shake Teeth Shake with the Bechdel Group, they really stood behind the play, they made space and time for the work, and having a chance to dialogue with a dramaturg about a piece in development is so crucial at such an early stage. The space is intimate, but the audience that they assembled for the talk back portion was eager to engage with the script.
Your work passes the Bechdel test, but is meeting the criteria of the test something you set out to do when you write? If not, how has seeing your work, as now identified through this lens, changed or informed your writing?
I think meeting the criteria of the Bechdel test is very important, but in my opinion it’s one of the lowest bars to meet when telling a story. I once saw a shirt that passed the Bechdel test. I want to tell rich stories of women helping women, and loving women, and building women up, so I think having them talk to each other at length about something other than a man is an expected part of that.
The Bechdel test is, by its existence, a kind of political rubric – and now identified in film and theatre theory. Are there any other politics or rubrics that influence your work? Is it important to you to identify as a feminist writer?
I consider myself a political, feminist playwright. I think it’s really difficult to engage in art without referencing the world around us. To me, theater is a direct response to our political climate and to current events. We write to work through questions we have about the world we’re inhabiting. My art is my activism.
How important is getting feedback for your writing process and what do you hope to get from feedback at a reading?
Feedback is the cornerstone to the growth of new work. A playwright can only do so much alone at a desk in a room of their own. I love when an audience is engaged with the work in a way that allows them to ask truly fearless questions. Feedback at readings has helped me to open the work in ways I wasn’t able to do on my own. As a playwright, there are many questions I have but can’t answer, and many pieces of the storytelling puzzle that I’m seeking to organize, so when someone comes along who can ask just the right question and unlock that door, it truly helps.
How is the feedback you get from a live audience reading different from other types of feedback you seek?
I think the feedback from a live audience is invaluable because the audience is reacting to the play in real time, and they’ve just experienced the play live, performed by actors, in a room full of other people who are also experiencing the play. The other major feedback I seek is from my dramaturg, who is usually reading the play in a quiet space, so the experience is very different.
Tell us about a woman character you’ve written who surprised you, or took a turn you didn’t expect.
Hmmm. This is a hard one. Possibly because so many of the woman characters I set out to write like to take the story into their own hands in a way that often causes me to reevaluate a script. The beautiful thing about writing is that you don’t know everything. There’s so much I learn about the world of my plays when I’m in them, and the characters often have a lot to do with that. I can make outlines and plans but ultimately when I sit down to write I go where they lead me.
What comes easily, and what challenges you in your writing?
When the story is right, when it’s been percolating unbothered long enough, the first draft will come easily. First drafts still have moments of hair pulling and long walks to figure out dead ends, but for the most part, if I leave an idea alone long enough, if will find a beginning, a middle, and an end. The challenge comes from forcing the story too soon. If I sit down and try to push, I might dead end myself before I get too far. That’s not to say the story can’t still be told, or that shitty first drafts aren’t wonderful, just that I always appreciate keeping a play in my subconscious for a little while, before I bring it into the world.
What are you working on now, or what can we look forward to hearing about next from you?
Currently I’m working on rewrites for my newest play, SOLDIER POET, which is receiving its world premier with Theatre Prometheus in D.C. later this year. http://theatreprometheus.org/
The Bechdel Group
Working to challenge the portrayal of women in film and on stage.