Three decades ago, Bertolt Brecht changed my life. I had always considered myself a realist, but Epic Theatre mystified and intrigued me. When my career ladder vanished in a reorganization, I decided to reorganize my life. I returned to graduate studies to work on Brecht for my doctoral project. My weak German skills made American theatre a wiser concentration. I earned my Ph. D. in 1992 and had found a passion for all things theatre.
Eight years ago Ibsen changed my life. After trying for years to write a full length play, I decided to update Hedda Gabler. I titled my first full-length play about a computer start-up company Tarazed Gamma. At the end my Hedda, protagonist and villain, is alive, ambitious as ever, and in her ninth (reluctant) month of pregnancy. For my second and third plays I experimented with different writing techniques and am approaching my fourth play from a new perspective. I haven’t written anything close to Brechtian yet.
As for inspiration, plots and characters continually interrupt my reading. There I am on a lazy Sunday morning, looking over the New York Times Book Review, and a plot leaps into my head, one I will need to tweak and twitch into workable shape. Or in the middle of a news article, a character insists on chatting — but leaves out whole sections of the dialogue, which I have to research to fill in. Or I’m correcting student papers, when, bang, I’m in the middle of a scene in an unfamiliar setting. People used to call this daydreaming. I’m still learning to stop what I’m doing and write everything down before finishing the article or grading the next paper. I’m trying to clear my calendar to make more time for reading and writing.
After I write a scene, I’m happy. I may tear it up a week later, but I am alive in the process. Sometimes the pleasure lasts two days and people tell me I glow. I feel lucky to have found a new passion in my 60s — and the support of the League.
Glenda Frank has just completed her third full-length play; holds a Ph.D. in Theatre; teaches at FIT, SUNY; and reviews for Plays International (a British mag)and nytheatre-wire.com. The Fourth Estate, her series of short plays about endangered journalists, was a critical success at the 2010 NY International Fringe Festival.