I have a reputation for being a very outspoken person. This candidness began in earnest as a queer writer growing up in conservative Tennessee, continuing as a playwright in Seattle, and here in my final year at the University of Iowa MFA playwriting program. “Feminist Killjoy,” “Nagging Queer,” and “Charmingly Amusing Annoyance,” are names I’ve carried proudly after making waves in predominantly white male, straight and cis, and surprisingly conservative communities. I’m not a “fun gay,” but I am fun and funny and queer and feminist and playwright and teacher. And I tend to write plays that fit those descriptors. My queers aren’t “fun gays.” They don’t roll over easy.
Thematically, I find myself drawn to bizarre worlds with strange rules, often terrifying (especially in the current political climate), usually accompanied by expressions of violence, with humor and heart throughout. I tackle stories that haven’t been told, or haven’t been told in a context outside of straight-up (hyper white male hetero) living room realism, or haven’t been told in a way where it’s possible to laugh as well as gut. What drives me as a storyteller are questions, problem-solving. Such as, how do you make the awful effects of climate change personal, magical, and queer (You Must Wear A Hat)? Or, how do you make uncomfortable topics like fat bodies being relatively ignored unless they are being shamed, engaging and honest without preaching (Tiny Thin Woman Inside)? Or, why didn’t anyone listen to Cassandra, but the boy who cried wolf got the benefit of the doubt three times (Bell at the Back of Her Throat)?
It’s these types of problems I’m going to continue to solve as a playwright. I have many more stories, in a constant search to make difficult topics meaningfully presented, and also funny. I don’t know where I plan to go next, but a large part of me wants to reckon with the south so we can come to a new understanding with one another. Regardless of where I end up after Iowa, I know that I will continue being my outspoken self and hope that others jive with that mission, and want to pick up what I’m putting down.