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Williamstown Theatre Festival

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Catching up with Bekah Brunstetter, playwright extraordinaire

Every year, as part of the exciting Fellowship Program, the emerging Boris Sagal and Bill Foeller Directing Fellows collaborate with writers of their choosing and our company of Non-Equity actors to create a play and a musical piece over the course of 8 weeks. Through this whirlwind process, WTF fosters young voices so their new projects have the opportunity to be produced elsewhere. Last week, you saw a glimpse of the Fellowship Musical After Robert Hutchens, written by Nick Blaemire and directed by Sheryl Kaller. Be on the lookout for the upcoming Fellowship Play When You’re Here by Samuel D. Hunter, directed by Portia Krieger. Public showings will be the evenings of August 14 and 15.

Last year, the Fellowship Playwright was Bekah Brunstetter, a talented and bright new voice in the theatre world. At WTF, she wrote House of Home, a play inspired by true tragic events in a small Southern town. After her time as a 2009 Playwright in Residence at ArsNova, her play Be a Good Little Widow ran there this May. It was also a Weissberger Award finalist for 2010. A Long and Happy Life is slated to be produced next year by Naked Angels. The New York Times hit the nail on the head when they said, “She writes fresh, unfussy dialogue and characters who earn their laughs and emotional moments by honest means.” Along with her commissions, Bekah is (rightfully) a busy busy person with myriad projects on the horizon. We decided to check in with her and ask her a few questions about writing, life, and of course, sandwiches. Here’s a quick profile on one of our favorite up and coming writers:

Name: Bekah Brunstetter

Alias: Funstetter

Occupation: Playwright

What’s your motto? Everything in moderation. Technically it’s my Mom’s. It might also be Jackie Kennedy’s.

What was your favorite 90’s boy band? Hanson, duh.

What do you most value in your friends? Good listeners, people who don’t take things TOO seriously.

What is your most marked characteristic? I am constantly and nervously twirling my hair.

What is your favorite part of being a writer? I love that even when I can’t literally be writing I can always be writing. IN MY MIND.

What is your process of creating new work? It’s kind of a like vomiting. Gross! But really. It just sort of all comes out. And then later, with the help of others, I fix it.

What was your experience like working on House of Home last year? It was fantastic. It was SUPER collaborative, made me happy, drove me insane. I was allowed to follow all of my impulses without really worrying too much about the end product. It was very freeing!

What is your favorite memory from Williamstown? The first night I got there, Kerry [Whigham, director of House of Home] and I went to see the Non-Eq’s do their monologues. I sat in the back and watched 4 actors that I’d never even met do monologues from my shows. I FELT FANCY AND SPECIAL!

If you had a sandwich named after you, what would be on the “Bekah Brunstetter”? I HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT THIS! SO MUCH! Fresh mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, pesto, and ranch on a toasted wheat roll. BOOM.

What’s coming up next for you? I’m working on 2 new commissions, feeling lucky as heck to have a fellowship from The Lark [Play Development Center] where I’ll be developing new work for the next year, and for the first time, TEACHING! Working with kids at this amazing place Writopia, and teaching adults at Primary Stages.

If you’re curious about anything else Bekah Brunstetter-related, visit her website And read and see her plays! Also, her blog is some good reading. Just saying.

AND don’t forget to check out the Fellowship Play in August, When You’re Here written by Samuel D. Hunter, directed by Portia Krieger! Reserve seats ahead of time to be sure to see this new work!

-Anne Joy

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