We were honored to chat with distinguished playwright, Lynda Crawford about Planet Connections special presentation of her latest work.
Thrilled to have you. Tell us about yourself as an artist
I have been writing plays for the last 40 years, with a 15-year hiatus in there while I worked as a journalist. I supported my habit for writing working as a secretary for many years at the UN International School. I was very influenced by that environment and many of my plays have an international feel. This play, STARS OUT OF BALANCE, feels very European to me, and I hope it resonates with what is going on there now with the plight of refugees.
Share with us a little something about your play that we WON’T see in the press release.
STARS OUT OF BALANCE was actually inspired initially by a line in another play of mine, Strange Rain (FringeNYC 2013), where a psychic character is talking about a vision he had of a family of acrobats who had become unbalanced by a year of unusual weather, the year without a summer. A friend remarked that they, the acrobats, deserved their own play and I liked that idea. Then a little later I read An Acrobat of the Heart: A Physical Approach to Acting by Stephen Wangh, and was influenced there as well. The play originally had many more characters and, after a couple of readings, I shelved it, but in the last year (after seeing The Showman, which brought to mind my acrobats), I was re-inspired to work on it and rewrote it (now for 5 actors) and refocused it to the situation of a family fleeing war and weather crises—something happening in various parts of the world right now.
Sadly, recent world events make me think i know the answer to this already but tell us why play resonates today? Feel free to be blunt.
Well, it is happening. Families are displaced all over the world because of war and climate change. They live in frightening conditions. How do these men and women survive? And if they are trying to practice art or a craft, how do they keep doing it? And what of the children? Will they have a chance at a future? The protagonist in STARS OUT OF BALANCE is a young girl.
Why did you choose Planet Connections for your work? Have you worked with them before?
I like the festival and the people involved. I have participated in Planet Connections in 2016 and 2017 as well. The aspect of finding a charity connected to the work appeals to me. I chose the International Rescue Committee for STARS OUT OF BALANCE, as they help people upended by war and natural disaster.
Where do you see it going in the future? What’s the next step?
I’m very excited to work with Terry Greiss (the director) on this piece in the festival. Working with him helps me to realize the play more fully. After this staged reading, well, I’ll be sending it out to all the usual places, hoping for a production…
The challenge for me is to write a play connected to a social issue without it being a diatribe, a mouthpiece, a platform for that issue…where it is a play that stands on its own as a drama, but maybe underneath it we feel the tug of the social issue playing out in front of us. And it opens our hearts a little more.