Core Writer Christina Ham is workshopping her new play American Realism at the Playwrights’ Center this week with director Peter Moore; dramaturg Wendy Weckwerth; and actors Mark Benninghofen, Terry Hempleman, Adelin Phelps, and Patrick Coyle. The workshop will conclude with a free public reading on Friday, April 8 at 2 p.m. Learn a bit about Christina in this mini-interview.
What have you been working on this year?
This year I have been working on my commission for Park Square Theatre, Nina Simone: Four Women, featuring Regina M. Williams (McKnight Theater Award recipient) in the title role that had its world premiere in March. I’ve also been working on rewrites for the play I’m workshopping this week, American Realism, that takes place in California and uses the backdrop of the current drought to examine two brothers who are at odds with each other. This play was inspired by Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. I’m also writing a new play titled 4310 about a lower middle-class neighborhood that’s on edge due to the group of registered sex offenders that live in their midst.
What’s something about playwriting that you had to learn the hard way?
There are many things I’ve learned the hard way over the last twenty plus years of my playwriting career, but I guess the one thing I’ve learned is how to rewrite my play for me and not for someone else’s notes. It’s a separate skill and just because you’ve gone through an MFA program like I have it’s not a given that you know how to do it. It took me many years to really understand how to write for actors and to be able to read the room in terms of what was and was not working on the page and why. The hope is you continue to learn and grow with each production, but unfortunately, for a lot of playwrights, their plays linger in workshop development hell and it takes you much longer to get there (if you ever do). The ugly truth about it is that a lot of writers never really get it and there are some plays that may remain elusive to you in the rewriting process and you never quite “nail it.”
What does your writing space look like?
I can literally write anywhere as long as it has a kick ass soundtrack playing in the background.
Finish this sentence: If I weren’t a playwright I would be…