INTERVIEW / KODY FORD
Fayetteville playwright Rachel Lynett has been making a name for herself nationally in the theatre scene with plays such as Well-intentioned White People. One of her more recent, and timely, works He Did It had a workshop reading at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art to kick off TheatreSquared’s New Play Fest. He Did It is a powerful story for our times with rapid-fire dialogue and cutting wit. It follows the story of two young women – Lex and Ada – as they are on the cusp on television stardom. Not all is well though as it is revealed that the showrunner, their long-time collaborator, Jefferson, raped one of their friends. Now the women are left with a choice – fulfill their dreams or cut ties with him.
How do you feel about being a part of the New Play Festival?
It’s really exciting. For a really long time, I had convinced myself that I was going to never have a play of mine read or produced in Arkansas which was really hard for me to accept. But then last year I got the individual artist fellowship with Arkansas Arts Council and then to have that followed up by this was super special to me. It meant the primary audience I’m writing to would be able to see my work.
Is this the first time He Did It has had a live reading?
No. HE DID IT had a workshop production with Pegasus Play Lab a new play development workshop with University of Central Florida and a reading with Equity Library Theatre, Chicago.
How closely did you work with the director and the cast?
Super closely. I believe in working collaboratively so I love the input from the director, dramaturg, and cast. It’s hard to write a play in a room on your own because they’re meant to be heard. So when you get a group of people truly dedicated to making the play the best possible version it can be, you want to know what they notice that you maybe didn’t or what moments they gravitate to. To me, it’s my job to write a strong ground floor plan (the play) for the actors so that they can build the world for the audience. I try my best to write in a way that helps actors because they’re the translators, they’re the one who bring the play to life.
Did you gain some insight after the first reading at Crystal Bridges? If so will you make changes by next weekend’s reading?
I did! Hearing the play completely was really great. In the room the week before we did it moment by moment but hadn’t read the whole play in one sitting for a while. It’ll be nice to get back and make some smaller changes in the play that I think will make the play stronger.