Post by Anna Troiano. Photos by Stephanie Wessels.
On Friday, January 6, 2017 a giddy crowd gathered in the intimate black box space immediately below New York’s historical Drama Book Shop (currently celebrating its 100th year!). The room was festooned with twinkling lights leftover from the recent holiday season, casting a merry glow over the filled room. Award-winning playwright Samuel D. Hunter strolled in with Steven McCasland, events coordinator at the shop, who would lead the enlightening discussion.
Hunter, a MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient, whose anthology Five Plays was published only a couple weeks prior, discussed engaging topics related to his work and inspiration – growing up in Idaho (where the vast majority of his plays are set) and the influences of faith and small town life. He divulged the nuances of what interests him in constructing his characters, and what he finds fascinating in the ultimately complicated altruism of humanity.
When the interview opened for the audience’s questions, Hunter was asked to describe his personal writing process and what drives him to churn out new plays at the impressive pace he does: “If something inspires me, I let it take delicate shape in my head until I know the reason why the play should exist. Once I know, it’s like I’m shoveling coal into a furnace and I will not let myself stop.”
After the discussion, Teresa Eyring, executive director of TCG, stood to share more about the TCG Books program and the value of membership with TCG. She explained why it’s important now more than ever to help build a “Better World for Theatre, a Better World because of Theatre.” She introduced Rick Kinsel, President of the Vilcek Foundation – the organization responsible for the funding it took to publish Five Plays. The Vilcek Foundation was also an honoree at the TCG Gala in November of 2016.
After the discussion, the attendees shuffled upstairs to have their new books signed by the playwright. For another forty minutes, Hunter met with eager theatregoers, readers, and aspiring writers, signing their books and altogether rounding out a memorable evening for all.
All photos taken by Stephanie Wessels. From top to bottom: Steven McCasland and Samuel D. Hunter; Hunter; Anna Troiano, Rick Kinsel, Hunter, and Teresa Eyring.
Anna Troiano is the Marketing Associate for Theatre Communications Group. Since graduating from the University of Michigan, prior to joining the staff at TCG, she has spent her professional life working for nonprofit theatre companies such as Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Signature Theatre Company (New York, NY), as well as the publishing house Wimbledon Publishing Company (London, UK). She spends her personal life taking long walks with her dog and freelance editing.