Friday, April 14, 2017


I've been writing for a few years now; a story there, a poem here, a song every blue moon, but it wasn't until this year that I started to write plays. I've experimented with a couple concepts here and there, but I've found over the course of 2 terms, 6 plays, and a lot of edits that there's one area that I've found I excel at.

Genre is fun to play with. There's certain expectations to be met, there are characters that must be there, and the more seriously the genre takes itself, the more fun it is to write a parody of. In the fall, I wrote Baked Goods, a take on the classic Little Red Riding Hood, where the lens shifts to focus on the Wolf, who had become a grizzled veteran detective. There was the supporting cast as well; the Woodsman, Wolf's drunk, debauched partner, Little Red, a lady of the night who makes extra on the side running drugs for Granny, who is the grand mastermind of the woes that plagued Forest City, her wonderful police department, and in turn, the tired bones of Detective Wolf. In this, I discovered a knack for writing puns that sounded entirely in world. 

I put Baked Goods on ice, but when winter quarter rolled around, I was tasked again to write, this time, drawing inspiration from a strange, but weird, news story. Mine happened to be about a deer that somehow managed to get itself stuck inside a warehouse full of hides, pelts, and furs waiting to be processed into luxury goods. Luckily for me, I had been hanging out with some friends the previous night, where they, after drinking a little, staged a rather memorable dramatic reading of Baked Goods. It was still fresh in my mind when handed the news story. Having characters that were mostly human, but also animals on my mind made me think of what would happen if a person stumbled upon a warehouse full of human skins. It sounds like a horror movie, right? Thus, SKINNER was born, and here I am, taking the first steps into a being a produced playwright at the ripe age of 21.

It seems so surreal to me, still. Having something completely born of my mind taken beyond a reading and discussion, and into being put on, in a physical space, with actors, lights, costume, and makeup. I created this little world that the characters play in, and it's out of my hands now, and in Director Brian Greer's hands to shape into something that is fit for the stage, and hopefully, earns a chuckle or two out of the audience.

If you are reading this before auditions (which are Sunday, April 16th and Monday, April 17th at 6 PM in the Withycombe Lab Theatre), then come audition! It's a blast, and I'd love to see you there! If you are reading this afterwards, then I hope to see you at the shows, and I hope that, just for a moment, SKINNER can make you laugh, and forget about a few of the crappy things in your life for just a little bit.

-Mike Stephens

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