San Diego Playwrights

Getting San Diego Playwrights Produced on San Diego Stages

Cygnet Theatre’s Playwrights in Process: An Interview with Rachael VanWormer

on October 22, 2013
Rachael VanWormer

Rachael VanWormer

Tell us about yourself.

I am a San Diego native – born and bred.  My first venture into playwriting was in high school, when I won the California Young Playwrights Contest, produced by The Playwrights Project.  I am primarily an actor and teaching artist, but have had several pieces produced as workshops and readings in smaller festivals throughout the years.

Tell us about Death of a Late Summer Songbird.

The play is based on events and characters from Harper Lee’s novel TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. The play focuses on Mayella Ewell – a young white woman – who falsely accuses Tom Robinson – a young black man – of rape in a Southern town in the 1930’s.  Lee’s novel offers some harrowing hints of the real story motivating her actions, and my play attempts to explore the many unanswered questions surrounding the events leading up to the accusation.

What are your challenges with Death of a Late Summer Songbird?

The primary challenge I have encountered with the piece is remaining true to the source material, while creating a piece that can stand on its own.  It is important that an audience find the characters relatable, sympathetic, and engaging, whether they are familiar with Lee’s novel or not.  The piece also attempts to explain – or at least offer insight into – what appears to be an act of incredible selfishness and prejudice.  The play does not excuse the characters’ actions, but it does attempt to offer a more complete picture of the circumstances they are up against.  Finding the balance in creating characters who do unforgivable things, but who are still interesting to watch, and worth wanting to know is a challenge I am still working on.

What is your next step for Death of a Late Summer Songbird?

More readings and more re-writes.

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