The Knockturnal: What inspired you to launch this festival?
Talia Light Rake: Back in March, I found out that the rest of my senior year of college was going to be virtual and that my Senior Drama Thesis was canceled. I was heartbroken and felt lost without my theater community. When I was still in school in Ohio, I had spent time reworking and furthering developing the play I was working on with a playwright who was in New York. This showed me that you didn’t need to be physically together with someone in order to collaborate with them. This gave me the idea to start Playdate and so I created the first round of our new play development conference. As quarantine hit full swing, I noticed more and more zoom readings popping up. I was intrigued, but I always felt like something was a bit off. These plays were not intended to be performed virtually and so you could just tell that there were all these elements that were missing. I wanted to create work that was specifically intended to be performed virtually, through a computer screen. For the next round of our play development conference, I challenged all 70+ playwrights to write a play for the screen. “The Screen-Play”. I wanted to bring these works to life, and so I brought on a team of trusted readers, and selected six plays to produce for Find A Way Or Make One: A Virtual Play Festival. The title is based on the prompt the writers were given, but it also aptly speaks to exactly what we are all trying to do during these crazy, unsettling times.
The Knockturnal: Who are some of the playwrights and actors involved?
Talia Light Rake: Our playwrights span from emerging undergraduates to those who are already established in the theater community. Some of our writers wrote their very first play for our conference while others runs their own theater companies. The virtual space is new for everyone. It is an equalizer and it has allowed for us to connect with so many new voices. Jack Spagnola, Lauren D’Errico, Ben Kaye, Lizz Bogaard, Sarah Groustra, and Roseanna Zerambo have each done such an incredible job at accessing and addressing the spectrum of truths that only arise through distance. We are equally blown away by our cast. We feel so lucky to have had such amazing stars from Hollywood and Broadway donate their time to come play with us. You might recognize Haley Orrantia as Erica Goldberg on The Goldbergs and Marcus Scribner as Junior on Black-ish, but with us they are Catherine and Charlie — a couple in a long-distance relationship forced to DTR due to quarantine.
The Knockturnal: Tell us a bit about yourself and your love of theater?
The Knockturnal: Who is an important mentor in your career?