An Interview with the Playwright
How did you hear about “The
I think I heard about it through the online newsletter,
THE LOOP, but then my friend Gary Houston also sent
me info on the contest after I’d submitted.
He’s worked with ya’ll and had good things
to say. So I said, “Thanks for the info, Gary,
I’m already on it.”
was the impetus/basis/inspiration for writing the
I work with teens and youth a lot, and it always
comes as a shock to me that I no longer speak their
language. I'm that old guy I never understood when
I was a tweener. Every time I try to have a conversation
of substance with one of my students, I think, "There
has to be a middle ground here. There has to be something
we can talk about. . . " In some cases, I think
maybe the most can get said when nothing gets said.
It's when I'm not trying to communicate, but when
I'm trying just to "be" with the kids,
just listen and absorb. . . that's when communication
happens. Blah blah blah, a long way of saying "I
was inspired to write this play by my students."
That said, I think young audiences are perfect for
short plays; it fits their attention span and it
keeps things moving. Let the adults sit through two
hours of Ibsen, ten minutes of “unknown” works
just fine for my students.
this play representational of your writing style?
Is it similar to or different from your other plays?
Yes and no. I’m all over the place style-wise.
I’d say it’s semi-typical of my TYA writing.
the role of the short work in your playwriting
Honestly, so many theatres ask for short pieces that
I was forced to begin writing them. I’m glad
for the impetus though, because it allowed me to
explore stories that didn’t necessarily require
a two act structure. I like to let the characters
and the stories inform me how they’d like to
be told. Sometimes it’s as a short play, sometimes
it’s as a long piece. It’s all relative.
What’s long? What’s short? I’m
more concerned with what’s complete, what’s
finished, what’s a whole piece? If it’s
ten minutes or ten days, I just want a fully fleshed
out theatrical experience.
What is your favorite play? Who is your favorite
Favorite play? That’s like asking me to pick
my favorite ice cream flavor. I mean there are SO
MANY (at least 31!). I’m a big fan of Hugh
Whitemore. Breaking the Code and Pack of Lies are
some of my favorites. No one writes a monologue like
Lanford Wilson, and for breaking my heart over and
over, I’m a big fan of Rogers and Hammerstein.
There are a LOT of really great local Chicago writers
doing a bang up job. I like Joe Tracz a lot, you
don’t know him yet, but you will.
What is your next playwriting venture?
I have a reading coming up in NY with Orange Hanky
productions called THE HOMOSEXUALS. Um. . .it’s
decidedly not family fare.
Also my children’s play, EDGAR AND ELLEN: Bad
Seeds is being published with Playscripts International
(go find it online. It’s big fun.), and I’m
working on completing a few operas with my creative
partner Eric C. Reda and our company Chicago Opera
Is there anything you would like to add?
Well, I’m always in favor of adding a dream
DAWKINS (Nothing) is a Chicago playwright
and educator originally from Phoenix, Arizona.
He is a graduate of Loyola University, Chicago
with degrees in Theatre and Math. His play,
Yes to Everything! was performed this year
at the Side Project (cut to the Quick) as well
as previously in NY, CA, DC and all around
the country. Last year, his play Perfect premiered
at the Side Project under the direction of
Stephen Cone. Other Chicago credits: You Gonna
Eat That? (HealthWorks), Ugly Baby (Chicago
Vanguard/Strawdog Theatre Company), A Still
Life In Color (T.U.T.A. Company), The Man With
a Shattered World (Ethington Theatre, AZ),
Saguaro (Estrogen Fest, Chicago; Estrogenius
Festival, NY; 16th Street Theatre, Berwyn,
IL, Painted Filly, Ireland.). Philip’s
writing has been published in The Stranger
and The Packington Review and his play, Edgar
and Ellen: Bad Seeds (Northlight Theatre) will
be published by Playscripts International this
spring. Philip is currently writing an opera
trilogy with his writing partner Eric C. Reda.
He is the ARTS Program Director at Pegasus
Players, and teaches playwriting in public
schools through Chicago Dramatists. He also
leads bicycle tours of Chicago through Bobby’s
Bike Hikes, and teaches Kung Fu to little,
tiny, children. Hi-YAH!