Plan-B Theatre’s Script-In-Hand Series, launched in 2004, provides the first public audience for many a play. This season’s series has a festival vibe to it, with four workshops taking place within a four-week period, each culminating in a free public reading on Zoom.
Tatiana Christian’s (they/them) “Radio Show” is a genre-bending horror play centering on Black characters but not Black trauma. Tito Livas’s (he/him) “Squeak” takes us on a journey across the spectrum through the eyes of a kindergartner.
Plan-B’s Artistic Director, Jerry Rapier, asked them each to share a few thoughts on their processes and plays.
Tatiana Christian, what made you decide to pursue playwriting?
A long time ago, an astrologer I followed online talked about writing a one-act play. I remember thinking that was very interesting. On and off over the years, I thought about playwriting and how people even got plays made.
When I moved to Park City, I fell down a rabbit hole, not knowing how I got there and started traveling to Salt Lake City to see plays. The first play I saw was “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City” at [Salt Lake Acting Company], and it was a comedy about this woman whose mom was in the hospital and she meets a guy whose mom is also sick (or dead).
I remember really liking it because it was a play with only white characters but no racism. (Seeing art made by white creatives is uniquely fraught).
I moved to Salt Lake in order to see more plays (which I did). I saw as much as I could, and seeing some at Plan-B Theatre, I looked them up and read about the Theatre Artists of Color Playwriting Workshop.
Although I didn’t have any experience, I had written everything else (screenplays, comics scripts, short stories, and half-finished novels), so I thought to see if/how I could participate. After a performance of “…Of Color,” I approached Jerry and asked how I could take part. And it’s history after that!
What was the impetus for creating your play “Radio Show”?
I had seen “Lovecraft Country” and really liked it. But I noticed that there aren’t any Black people writing cosmic horror. (Lovecraft was a virulent racist and his cosmology is steeped in his fear/hatred of Black people.)
Outside of one novella, “The Ballad of Black Tom” by Victor Lavalle, there are no notable Black cosmic horror writings that I have been able to find. (“Lovecraft Country” is adapted from a novel written by H.P. Lovecraft, a white man.) (There is an anthology of cosmic horror writings that is almost exclusively white women.)
This, on top of the fact that there are so few speculative plays being produced, prompted me to attempt something very different than what I was used to seeing.
What scares you most about your play?
Maybe its execution. I hope that it works as a play and that I didn’t shoot myself in the foot, as it were.
What excites you most about your play?
The horror of it! I think cults are interesting, I love monsters, and I think it is very different. I want to continue creating work that is very uncommon with supernatural elements.
Tito Livas, what made you decide to pursue playwrighting?
I’m not really sure. Probably the same reason every other person pursues playwriting, to share my perspective and views in a way that hopefully speaks to others.
What was the impetus for creating your play “Squeak”?
I wrote “Squeak” because I have a son with ADHD and I wanted others to understand what it can be like in his brain, and how best to interact with a child who is neurodivergent … not only for his sake but for theirs as well.
What scares you the most about your play?
What scares me most is getting it wrong. And people not taking away from it what I hope they will.
What excites you most about your play?
My oldest son, and those like him, seeing themselves onstage.
Free-but-required tickets to the Script-In-Hand Series readings of “Radio Play” by Tatiana Christian (October 1) and “Squeak” by Tito Livas (September 24) on Zoom are available at planbtheatre.org – click The Plays. The Series also features readings of “Tip Top Triangle” by Rachel Bublitz (September 17) and “The Robots of Walmart” by Jenny Kokai (October 8).