Karen Evans Transcripts

This week, our Theater in Community interview is with playwright and educator Karen Evans. During our conversation, Karen discusses her work as a playwright, focusing specifically on the two plays she’s had produced locally, plus the founding of the Black Women Playwrights’ Group that nurtures and develops theatrical storytelling. She also describes her innovative work as a tech entrepreneur with her app 12@12NOON, which delivers a 12-line play to your mobile phone or tablet every day.  

Elizabeth: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Theater in Community interview series of Creativists in Dialogue. I’m Elizabeth Bruce.

Michael: And I’m Michael Oliver.

Elizabeth: And our guest today is Karen L.B. Evans. Playwright and educator, Karen Evans is president and founder of the Black Women Playwrights’ Group and CEO of Star Route 19, an educational software company. Her current project is the development of 12@12NOON and 12 LINE WONDER, its educational counterpart, both private SMS a.k.a. text messages that deliver 12-line dramatic scenes to your mobile phone or tablet. She’s also a tech entrepreneur and seasoned nonprofit and operations manager.

Karen has received individual fellowships in playwriting from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the DC [00:01:00] Commission on the Arts and Humanities. She was a Helen Hayes nominee for, quote, Outstanding New Play, as well as a Sundance Institute finalist. She has participated in the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. Karen is a recipient of the John F. Kennedy Center’s Front and Center Award. She is also a recipient of a fellowship from the Weissberg Foundation to attend a playwriting seminar at New York’s primary stages. She holds a B.A. with honors in drama from Dartmouth College and an M.F.A. in playwriting from the Catholic University of America. Welcome, Karen.

Karen: Thank you so much, Elizabeth.

Michael: We like to start at the beginning of your creative life. So, what were some of your earliest experiences of any kind of creativity, either as a participant or as a witness?

Karen: I think that one of my earliest [00:02:00] experiences, I was—in elementary school, I was a big hand-raiser. My hand was always in the air. And the teachers would call on me, and I would regale the class, and at one point, some story I was telling, my fourth grade teacher said, “Karen, you have been known to stretch the truth.” It was a tough year after that because nobody let me forget it. But it was a great story. So, I was a very good reader when I was a kid, very active. And, you know, my other stories that I was in church and I had something to say and everybody—it was a children’s program—and everybody had to get up and say something and they were mumbling and that really annoyed me. So there I was, again, seven or eight, and I stood up and at the top of my voice I said, “TO OUR VISITORS!” Everybody laughed.

Elizabeth: Hear me!

Karen: And I was suckered in for that, after that.

Michael: So you’ve been a storyteller for a long time.

Karen: [00:03:00] Yeah, a storyteller and a big reader, so I love the story. What’s more exciting?

Elizabeth: Yeah. And enunciation. You’ve been an elocutionist.

Karen: Absolutely. If they can’t hear you—

Elizabeth: Yes, we could have a conversation about the mumbling school of acting that seems to have taken hold.

Karen: Ugh.

Elizabeth: Karen, tell us how you became involved in theater prior to going to Dartmouth where you earned your B.A. in drama. What was your early theater experience?

Karen: I was the president of the drama club at Eastern High School.

Elizabeth: Oh, Eastern, okay. Yeah, so you’re a Washington, native Washingtonian.

Karen: Oh, gosh, yeah.

Elizabeth: Oh, I want to ask you about that.

Karen: And so I was president of the drama club and the French club. And that was my interest, getting us organized and during my senior year, that Hair was big.

Elizabeth: Oh, yes.

Karen: “Oh, beautiful hair.”

Elizabeth: “Age of Aquarius,” yeah.

Karen: Exactly. And I went down [00:04:00] to the National Theater to see it when I was 16 or 17 and we got back, I got it to Eastern and we did, instead of Hair, our year-end production was Kinks. So, yeah, I was very active in high school in drama.

Elizabeth: That’s great.

Michael: And then ultimately you get an MFA in playwriting from Catholic University. Please talk about those years at Catholic and how they prepared you or maybe didn’t prepare you for your coming life as a playwright.

Karen: Oh, they did prepare me because Leo Brady was my professor and because I’m old and he was, now, people don’t remember him, there was this whole coterie of wonderful professors at CU when I was there. I was thinking about this as I read your questions and I thought, “Oh my God, nobody’s going to know these names.” But Walter and Jean Kerr—

Elizabeth: Oh sure, yeah.

Karen: —came out of, and were big, [00:05:00] they were Catholic U alumni. And later, the Sarandons, and I’ve forgotten her husband’s name.

Elizabeth: Susan Sarandon?

Karen: Yeah, Sarandon.

Elizabeth: Oh, and I think they’re divorced now, but yeah, he’s an actor.

Karen: Yeah, they were both. Ao it was, like, the professors were just excellent. Leo Brady taught me playwriting, and taught everyone playwriting, and it was just a beautiful experience because he was a wonderful teacher, he was very gentle, he was very kind, and very supportive. One thing that my favorite, not personal memory, but to help people understand kind of the circle that they had created at Catholic University was Leo Brady directed Yankee Doodle Dandy with James Cagney. And if you, he directed it and he wrote it and then it was on Broadway and then it was a film. And my favorite memory from that film is, Jimmy Cagney was a little man, and at one—people don’t understand, he was always playing the tough and the heavy, he was so light on his feet And there’s this one moment in Yankee Doodle Dandy where he just does [00:06:00] this leap when he’s dancing and he hangs in the air.

Elizabeth: Wow.

Karen: He’s such a wonderful dancer. But anyway, they moved in great professional circles where the, when the connections between educational institutions. So they, it was a great faculty. Ao I loved my time there.

Michael: During the ‘70s, that was when Father Hartke, I think, really, he really established Catholic University theater as one of the premier places in DC to go see theater.

Elizabeth: Even nationally, I think.

Karen: Nationally, yeah. It was, he was right up there with Yale, said I.

Michael: No, he was quite established. He worked closely with the Kennedy Center and getting that established.

Elizabeth: Even David Richards, I think, went to Catholic University.

Karen: I think so too. I think so too.

Elizabeth: The late critic of The Washington Post and New York Times.

Karen, you have just confirmed my suspicion that you are a native Washingtonian. We are not native Washingtonians, although we have two children who are native Washingtonians. Can you tell us about your first experiences as a playwright or as a theater person in the District or elsewhere?

Karen: [00:07:00] After I got back from college, I went away for four years, came back from college, and was in Catholic University, but also I participated in theater in DC like Robert Hooks in DC Black Rep.

Elizabeth: DC Black Rep, yes.

Karen: That was great. That was—

Elizabeth: So you were part of DC Black Rep?

Karen: “Part of” is too strong a word. I just hung out.

Elizabeth: Oh, okay. Okay.

Karen: I hung out. I went to their workshops. I went to their shows. It felt like home. It felt it felt exciting. And so I had a very good time there. And they were really good, talented people. God, they were talented.

Elizabeth: Robert Hooks was up there—

Karen: Yes.

Elizabeth: —in prestige and talent.

Karen: Yeah, and went off to LA and made a name for himself. And actually, his son also directed out in LA. Directed film and television out in LA.

Michael: Do you remember any of the shows that were—

Karen: I did see Day of Absence.

Elizabeth: Oh, Day of Absence.

Michael: Okay, the Day of Absence.

Elizabeth: Lonnie Elder, is that who wrote that?

Karen: No. Oh. Oh. Now that I have to remember the name, I’ll come back to it.

Michael: [00:08:00] Yeah.

Karen: Douglas Turner Ward.

Elizabeth: Douglas Turner Ward, right.

Karen: Yes. Yeah. So that’s the one I really remember most. But I, there were more shows than that.

Michael: Sure, sure.

Elizabeth: Wow.

Michael: Okay, so, now as a playwright—playwrights hold, I think, a unique position in the world of theater. ‘Cause on the one hand, theater is whenever you have an actor and an audience, you have theater. But then that’s assuming that the actor is going to be a storyteller. Otherwise, they have to have something to do, right? You as the, having played the role of the storyteller of the theater, you hold this unique position. Can you talk about the role of the theater storyteller within the, the broader theater community? What is that relationship like?

Karen: It’s personal because every time you create the story at your desk, on your porch, in your head when you’re walking, and you do it by yourself, you scribble and pull it all together, [00:09:00] and then hopefully you find someone who’s interested, who is willing to bring together actors to make it happen, and then you begin to think of it more externally. You think, “Oh,”—you have to answer the question, what’s going on at the end of act one? So you move from just your internal story to what’s happening structurally that’s going to make this whole together. And that’s where the actors and the director or, in reverse, the director and the actors really begin to help you shape the wider picture of what’s happening, actually happening in that play.

And I’ll be perfectly truthful, production isn’t my favorite thing. We all need to be produced, and that’s incredibly important. But just on a personal level, I’m just as happy—once I’m happy with it on the page, it’s nice if somebody else does it, but, that’s where my, it doesn’t, that’s where my happiness is centered.

Elizabeth: I personally think playwriting is [00:10:00] the hardest form of creative writing. I’m a fiction writer, and I’ve written essays and some nonfiction, but I think playwriting is so hard because you can’t waste any time. Every line, every stage direction has to be so freighted with import.

Karen: Yes. And telling that story and moving the characters and that story forward. I know, it’s, I—and I can’t write fiction, ironically. I, it’s too expansive. I’m so used to working within the box of ch-ch-ch-ch-ch. That the linger and the effusiveness of writing fiction, I have not mastered it.

Michael: One of my first experiences of a playwright was way back at Virginia Tech where I got my MFA in directing and I was the assistant director of Maureen Shea who was my mentor at the university and she was doing a new play and I think for the last two weeks of rehearsal, the playwright came [00:11:00] into the rehearsal process. After about four days, while she’s trying to direct, she’s working with this actress to try to get this character right, the playwright started rocking back and forth in his chair. And then I noticed him and then a guy got, finally a couple days later, he was like, he got so upset that the character wasn’t getting, wasn’t being realized. I, and I said, “There you go. There’s the playwright.”

Karen: There’s the playwright. And I think that’s a, it’s a really tricky moment. Because sometimes the playwrights are there too much. Terrible thing to say, I know. But there are points where you can come in and really illuminate if the actors do have questions. But then there’s a point where if you’re there too much, the actors are aware that you’re there and you’re not the audience. They have to tell that story and find their truth there. [00:12:00]

Elizabeth: They can’t completely defer to the playwright, can’t be walking on eggshells or anything.

Karen: You can’t. And I always say, when I read my plays, every time I read it the same way. Now, that’s not the point of theater. Karen reads a play to you. Let them take it.

Elizabeth: Speaking of your plays, in 1994, your play My Girlish Days was produced at Metro Stage in the DC area and you were nominated for a Helen Hayes award for, award for outstanding new play. Can you tell us about that play and that process of having it produced at Metro Stage?

Karen: Oh, Carolyn Griffin just did a wonderful job. She’s so fabulous.

Elizabeth: Oh, she’s a heroine of the DC theater scene, I tell ya.

Karen: Totally. And it was a very good experience and the casting went well. Michael Toledo was the director, and the casting went—well, let me see now. DC audiences would know [00:13:00] Michael Toledo as an actor around at Roundhouse and Folger as well.

Elizabeth: Folger, yeah. Wasn’t he an artistic director at Folger Theatre?

Karen: He was—no, he wasn’t an artist.

Elizabeth: He wasn’t artistic, okay.

Karen: No, but he was also at St. Mary’s College down in St. Mary’s, Virginia—Maryland. And he was there for a good number of years, and they did some wonderful shows down there with him. But anyway, which is to say, he was a really fine director, so I had a very good time. And Carolyn was incredibly gifted as a producer, so I felt very comfortable there. So, it was a very positive experience.

Elizabeth: Oh, that’s great.

Michael: And can you talk a little bit about the audience response to the play? Because part of what we’re looking at is the relationship between the theater, the art of the theater, or the art of the playwright, and the community that is receiving that. What was the audience response like, or do you remember any of the questions or the issues that the play brought up?

Karen: The audience response was good because you have to realize that was 1994, [00:14:00] and here you have a play that was just about one young Black girl. Truthfully, television and plays, more plays have tackled, who is she? Who is that young Black girl? But she was the main character and her life in this small town and her friendship with another young woman and her not quite fitting in to this small town hadn’t been told. So it was a new subject. So there was a lot of feedback from young Black women who said, “Wow, first time I saw myself on stage.”

The other, the other thing that it really portrayed that I thought was good was that the fantasy or the stereotype is that, oh, every Black family pushes their child to go to college to make a better life. And in this particular play, nobody in her family was interested in her going to college. They thought she was uppity. They thought that she would be hoist by her own petard. And some rather dramatic things [00:15:00] did happen to her because she needed to push, she needed to get out of that town. But I enjoy saying not everybody cared whether you went to school.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Sure.

Michael: Yeah. They saw it as a sign of uppity-ness?

Karen: Yes, uppity-ness.

Elizabeth: Yeah, we had a conversation with B. Stanley,who is DCAC’s Artistic Director for years, and he’s from a small town in North Carolina. He spoke at length about the differential between his narrative in life and his family.

Michael: His family, “You’re going to college?” Yeah.

Karen: We need some help around here now.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Speaking of your plays you also had your play Leaving the Summerland produced. And it was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award, Dan Covey for lighting design in 2001. Can you tell us the story of that production?

Karen: That was also a very good production. It was a very—Jane Lang [00:16:00] produced that.

Elizabeth: Oh, okay.

Karen: And let me think now. Jane Lang had her own production company, and she loved the play. And the key to it was that Jane Lang had an amazing relationship with Jacob Lawrence.

Elizabeth: Wow. The Jacob Lawrence.

Karen: The Jacob Lawrence who painted The Migration Series.

Elizabeth: Right, of course.

Karen: And actually he died in the middle of the production.

Elizabeth: Wow.

Karen: So that was harrowing. So it was interesting to be part of images that personified the Great Migration. So it felt like you were really lifting sacred topics. And I’m a product of the Migration. My parents came from Alabama and North Carolina. And the, what it took for all of the Black people who decided to [00:17:00] migrate, it took amazing connectedness. Because everybody has the story of relatives staying with you while they were on their way to X. Or until they got that job so they could continue on to Detroit because they were jobs. That was part of my childhood.

Elizabeth: Sure.

Karen: So it felt very rooted and centered in a love of our larger story of who we were.

Elizabeth: I just listened to The Warmth of Other Suns, which I’m sure you listened to or read about.

Michael: You mentioned with My Girlish Days how the young Black women in the audience were suddenly seeing themselves represented on stage and sort of the power of that experience to see yourself represented. And of course, one of the powers of storytelling is that it can open up whole new pathways, whole new ways of living, whole new ideas for people. Can you talk more not necessarily theoretically, but about the power of [00:18:00] narrative to transform people or to open up people to a more authentic way of living or et cetera?

Karen: It’s interesting, I’ll start with a small story. I just took a 11-year-old and her mom to Judy Blume’s new movie that hadn’t been produced for a long time. It’s about an 11-year-old getting her period and it takes place in the 1960s.

And, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Hello God, this is Margaret. And the reason I wanted this 11-year-old is because I think it gives a less, it gives an unfussy, genuine view of what does it mean to be 11. I mean they had their friendships within the movie, they had their friendships in the book, they had their friendships, [00:19:00] they were, had this little club they formed, everybody was very focused on, have you gotten your period? One little girl lies and says she has gotten it and she hasn’t. I thought it just captured a moment in adolescence and puberty and in a clear way. I think that kids are overburdened now with the internet and sexuality and what are the expectations of someone who’s 11 or 12. And what I enjoy about the movie is that those girls look like little girls. I think that, to go to narrative, that we do look to the external, the, how we see ourselves represented. My mother, this is, my mother didn’t get—this is ironic. My mother didn’t get me a Barbie. And it actually didn’t have anything to do with her being White. She had this rack. She had boobies.

Elizabeth: Yeah, she was built!

Karen: And my mother looked at [00:20:00] her and went, “I don’t think so.”

Elizabeth: Really, this is not the narrative that I want for my 11-year-old or whatever.

Karen: No, it’s not. It’s not. And and I, I was whatever age, 7 or 8 or 9, I was crushed, but, I thought, “Huh, so why doesn’t she like her?” And then I am eager to go see Barbie and Greta Gerwig. Just because I keep thinking, what? Barbie by itself might not be particularly interesting as a movie, but Greta, the director, is an interesting person, and I’m interested in seeing what she did with Barbie. And also I heard the right wing was really upset about it. So I thought, “Okay, I’m in.”

Elizabeth: I haven’t seen the Barbie movie, but—

Michael: I think quite a few people are upset about it.

Karen: I’m not going to speak on that too much because I haven’t seen it. But the idea that the external and how do we define ourselves—I’ll try to make another point that I’ve noticed, because I’ve had to make the switch from, [00:21:00] it’s not a switch, but I’ve had to grow into writing about men. And so I think about men, I spend a lot of time thinking about men and boys, and how they learn, and how it’s a different experience. And that they are very tactile learners. They really depend on their dads to, quote, show them how to do A, or B, or C. And even mothers—I had a friend who had boys and she said, “If I need them to talk, I get the basketball, we go out, we shoot the hoops, they’ll talk. They’re not going to talk in the house near me.” So I think that the external nature of the narrative and how you make up who you are, some of it’s nature. You come here who you are. But you learn lessons externally, and that’s where the heart of the narrative is for me. People figuring out where, I know who I think I am and I know what I feel, but who am I externally? [00:22:00] And I think that’s what writing narratives help you integrate.

Elizabeth: You mentioned being a woman playwright and writing male characters, and I want to ask you about the challenges of being a playwright, for one, but a woman of color, both back in the day when you first began writing, as well as in the present. Could you talk about the challenges, the barriers, and the advantages of being a Black woman playwright?

Karen: Yeah, there’s always February.

Michael: What a wonderful response. Yes. Okay.

Karen: The challenges are real. Several years ago, professor Kathy Perkins did an article about Black women playwrights. I can share it with you. And what she noted was that, for starters less than two percent of Black women are produced in theater. And if you go, widen that [00:23:00] out a little bit to regional theater, they’re less than five. They’re five, maybe six, probably five.

Elizabeth: Five playwrights themselves?

Karen: Five playwrights who are repeated within the regional theater landscape. So if you get a play, Pearl Cleage’s—I’ve forgotten—Blues for an Alabama Sky was down at Arena. And of course, then it was done at Guthrie and it was done after that. And so even though if you’re gonna, as a researcher, if you’re gonna look at, says, my God, there were like 64 productions by African American women at regional theaters in America.

Elizabeth: But there were, yeah—

Karen: They were those five women.

Elizabeth: Lynn Nottage, probably.

Karen: Lynn Nottage.

Elizabeth: Suzan-Lori Parks maybe.

Karen: Yes, exactly. So, it’s not great in terms of—it’s gotten better, I do think, I will, I’m gonna reluctantly say, I think it’s just not so much better but different. Because I see, even as a younger playwright, as I see the younger playwrights coming along, I’m not gonna be [00:24:00] able to recall her name, but the young lady who wrote African Mean Girls, there’s another generation of Black women playwrights who aren’t being produced. They’re being produced by Woolley, they’re being produced by Arena, Studio, but the basic dynamic stays the same. One per season. Maybe two.

And you—Lynn Nottage can find a home. I don’t know if other playwrights can find a home. Because Lynn Nottage has the kilowatts of the Pulitzers and the MacArthur. And so she carries a certain clout that a lot of women, other Black women playwrights don’t. Because I think that the, one of the most, because I was going to talk a little bit about home and finding a theatrical home. That’s, Studio and Arena, they’ll love you, and they’ll do your play and, but the slots for Black women are so narrow that even if they’ve already done your play and [00:25:00] produced it, the likelihood that they’re going to come back to you is slim because they really do have to move on. They’ve got one slot to fill, and they’re not gonna, I don’t want to use the word “waste,” but they can’t afford to spend it on you because the line is long of other playwrights who are also seeking that opportunity to get produced. I don’t know if that has changed significantly. I still see the same pattern with the new generation of writers.

Elizabeth: This leads me to ask you to talk at length, really, about the Black Women Playwrights’ Group, which I understand was founded in 1989 by you and incorporated in 1993 as a service and advocacy group for African American playwrights writing for the professional theater. You have been the founder and president for the past 17 years or more, perhaps. Can you tell us what the organization’s genesis story is? What is its mission and vision? Can you just [00:26:00] elaborate on that remarkable organization?

Karen: Yes, I’d be happy to. We actually, ironically, we got started at Arena Stage. They had a two-hour seminar on the African American woman playwright, and there were 17 or 18 people on the stage for a two-hour seminar. And there were three lone playwrights, and we were down at the end. And between the three of us, we got five and a half minutes to talk. And I thought there’s something wrong here? And so, I used my minute and a half to say, “I think we need to know each other.” To the women who did come to that conference, that seminar. And I said, “Give me your contact information before you leave today.” And then we met the next month at my house and had brunch. And it was like finding kindred spirits. Because writing, as [00:27:00] we all know, is a solitary experience. You’ve got to, for whatever it is, you’ve got to sit there and create it in your noggin before it actually has any life to it. And a lot of—which speaks to intimacy and relief, and I always like to use the word kindred spirits because there’s, there was a Black Women Playwrights’ Group is the rare place where people actually, you can talk to them about what you’re writing and they really care. You can’t do that at the bus stop, talking to the person who happens to be standing next to you. They don’t care.

And I’m being facetious there, but, and the other aspect of the kindred spirit is that you didn’t, because it’s a Black audience, a Black setting with African American, fellow African Americans there, you can cut the—it’s shorthand. Because there’s a common experience that we get [00:28:00] automatically. So you don’t have to spend ten hours saying, Yes, and then my mother’s third husband, because the other two were killed by blah blah blah. And then they came, blah blah blah. Everybody gets it quickly. And then you get down to, who are your characters as people? Why are they doing X, and why are they doing Y? And you’ve gotta do a better job with men. We are holding, we hold each other’s feet to the fire because it’s not just a Black woman’s story. You have to tell a whole story, and everybody’s got to be real, no scarecrows or stereotypes here. You’ve got to address real issues that all people of all genders face.

Michael: And so did you, did the group bring playwrights together to share works in progress? So they were like writers forums and that kind of thing?

Karen: Yes, every month we met and you could get on the roster and, similar to what Ernie Joselovitz does with [00:29:00] the playwrights forum, yes, but with a lot more food.

Michael: There was a little bit a food at Ernie’s—

Elizabeth: Ernie always brought a sandwich.

Karen: Which he ate by himself, thank you very much. So, yeah, so it very much is a service and advocacy group, service and that we were teaching and the range of the women’s experiences was quite different. Somebody was writing their first play, I had gotten a fellowship from the NEA, that whole thing of the circle, because there’s this this whole thing saying that says men rule in a hierarchical sense and with themselves at the top, but women like to move, rule from the circle. So, trying to give everybody a fair chance to say what they’ve got to say and not be interrupted and, but be responded to clearly.

Elizabeth: As I said before, I think the play is a unique kind of creative writing form and so to be in community, creative community with [00:30:00] others who get that creative form and can actually speak to it in a kind of move forward way as opposed to just ask questions about what’s going on, I don’t understand, you know.

Michael: 1989. DC theater at that moment in time is just beginning to come into its own as a thriving theater community. Actors Equity had come to town and the whole League was in full swing. So what about DC at that particular moment do you think made it the perfect time to start a Black women’s playwrights group?

Karen: It was starting. It was exciting. And Zelda was down there working at Arena Stage and moving from being very small, working in a brewery, up and forward, and Joy hadn’t started Studio yet, I don’t think, in 1989. Wherever she was, it was very small. So it was, there was a, there was a sense of activity and coming into its own very much but, you know,[00:31:00] didn’t necessarily reflect where my—

Michael: Right. Because the initial, how, the initial group, how many playwrights were involved in the sharing sessions, for example? O

Karen: Oh, I’d say 12 to 14.

Michael: Oh, okay.

Karen: And, which is why I speak to who they attracted. Because we all walk around in our hearts with a story that we’re gonna try to tell. And I, and also, we had a good bunch of poets. And Elizabeth and I were talking about Mary Stone Hanley, who wrote just divine—

Elizabeth: Right. The choreopoem she had, the late Mary Stone Hanley.

Karen: Yes. So, we had, so we certainly had poets. So we had women who had their feet in, and they knew language, they didn’t necessarily know structure. So therefore, they found structure. But they had the ideas and the language. We had women who were writing for community theater. One of my favorite questions was, well, if, one of my playwrights said to me, “But if the audience laughs, does that mean it’s good?” I said, “Not [00:32:00] necessarily.” Which is, like, a tough thing to say to a very young playwright. But how are you getting that laugh? If you’re like cutting to the lowest common denominator, and it doesn’t tell any kind of wider story… eh, you know, you gotta aim a little higher.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Sure.

Michael: It sounds like you had a real, a collection of different kind of writers coming, the theatrical form, if it has poets, if it has dancers, something like For Colored Girls, you have these very, the form becomes very multivarious in there, there’s, it’s becoming, it’s, it opens up possibilities for, for the playwrights.

Karen: Oh, it does. I was standing in the, during this period, I was standing in the bank, and I was waiting in front of the teller and there was this, two Black women were in front of me and one had dreads down her back and cowboy boots and tight black pants. So she was a, I made some assumptions about who she was. And next to her was this prim little thing who was, like, dainty and had the nails [00:33:00] going on and had the silver hair and was all, traditionally dressed. And I was like, that’s Black Women Playwrights’ Group right in front of me! That’s who we are!

Elizabeth: That’s great. So can you describe for our listeners what some of your, like, initial activities were? You were a support group and you met, but were there other more organized activities that went public in, or had other kinds of ways to plug in?

Karen: Yes, one of, we, we also did readings and we worked with the theater community with actors. Lynnie Raybuck was a huge supporter of ours in that, in Smallbeer Theater.

Elizabeth: In Smallbeer, yeah. Yeah.

Karen: Huge supporter of us and helped us take that step out to the public. And so we worked with Lynnie for a good number of years. And then we formed a relationship with Joy Zinoman and so we had what we, the annual meeting. So once a year, we put together two-night [00:34:00] performances of works that the members had written and performed them down in Studio Theater and about 400 people came over those two nights and so we had our following and everything, and we looked forward to our annual reading. And yeah, so that was our main, that was our main reach out. And of course, D C Commission on the Arts and Humanities, they funded us. Yeah. And it was very good. It was very good.

Elizabeth: Wow.

Michael: So were these, so you, it sounds like you built a large, sort of, not just obviously the playwrights as the members of the organization, but there was also audience and community that began to acknowledge you. Were they invited to participate in discussing the play after the reading?

Karen: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

Michael: What were those events like?

Karen: Oh, they were always good. Just to jump ahead little bit time wise, you know, I thought the, when we had the Leaving the Summerland reading with Jane Lang over at the Atlas it was just really, the talkback’s always fabulous, you know? Because people really do [00:35:00] get to stand up and share their experiences. And that makes them, that tells them, that tells you the playwright they were listening. And that you hit a spot that had meaning for them because they’re willing to stand up and talk about it. That’s, I, that was like the best part.

Elizabeth: So this relationship with the larger community, did you find that from the audience to the people at the talkbacks and the playwrights and their friends and family, was there a sort of growing sense of a larger community that was beginning to be engaged in this storytelling continuum that you were on?

Karen: Yes. I think it was certainly growing. We were doing this for 10 or 12 years at that point. And people cared. People cared that reading was coming up. And we would go on WPFW.

Elizabeth: Sophie’s Parlor maybe?

Karen: Yes. Yes. So we had a real presence. And I will say that in, during that period also I would go [00:36:00] to things. I would go out to TCG things, and I was, it was awareness that we were there and they should—

Elizabeth: Theater Communications Group, TCG, non-theater folks.

Michael: Oh, so you were networking with these larger national networks as well.

Karen: I was networking. Yes.

Elizabeth: It’s a huge national network.

Michael: And were there, were there other Black Women Playwrights’ Groups in other cities? Was there a growing network or was your group unique in terms of the—

Karen: It was pretty unique. When I found, yeah, not—let me try to think. In New York, Elizabeth Van Dyke had a group. I think she had a group of about 20 women who were working together, 20, 25 women who were working together. And she was at a theater, I’m going to miscall the names so we can come back and add it up. The Cherry Theatre. Okay. Anyway. It wasn’t a lot. And out in LA, they were the Blacksmiths, they were also a group of African American writers, although they were mixed, it wasn’t just women.

Michael: Right.

Karen: Yeah, so I got to know these folks at these national [00:37:00] settings and, it was good to take a bird’s eye view.

Elizabeth: Speaking of national exposure writer and musician Michael Gallant—

Karen: Gallant, yeah.

Elizabeth: —profiled you and the Black Women Playwrights’ Group in an in-depth article for the National Endowment for the Arts, and in that article, Gallant writes, quote, “For playwright Karen Evans, the group’s founder and president, inspiration to explore transmedia storytelling came as a result of a national meeting held by the organization in 2008.” So he quotes you as saying, quote, “‘We gathered a hundred playwrights and scholars in Chicago, people at all stages of their careers. One of the points of this conference was to ask our members, how can we help? What can we do to make your professional and creative lives better?’” So, can you rewind the videotape and tell us about that national conference and the momentum that came out of it?

Karen:  I think that the [00:38:00] national conference did reflect a lot of energy that foundations were interested in because they have their ear to the ground and they did sense that they’re, that there were African American and Asian American theater groups out there and that they were treading water, but they were there. They were hanging in there. And the Ford Foundation and the Mellon Foundation, I went to them and said, “I want to bring together a national meeting of women playwrights of color.” And so, they funded us. And, and the NEA. Let me not forget the NEA. They funded us as well. And, because they care. Those foundations care. And they want to see theater thrive. And so that’s why they funded this conference of all these women coming together. And it was great. It was a ton load, ton of work. But it was great. Because we paid [00:39:00] for our playwrights to come to Chicago. We did the hotels and the da-da-da-da-da. So it was a major, I think it was a three- or four-day conference. And it was a big conference because we did have some really exciting people there, nationally speaking. Shea Youngblood. Sharon Bridgforth. Lots of very well-known women. Lynn Nottage was there, too.

My favorite Lynn Nottage story was, I had to rent a bus to get all of the playwrights from point A to point B. And so, Lynn was one of the last people to get on the bus. And so, she looked around—and I was sitting close to the front—and she looked around and she said, “Oh my God, I didn’t realize there were this many of us.” So, yeah. Yep, yep!

Michael: So I’ve heard about this, or I read about this Cyber-Narrative Project, which is a [00:40:00] program of the Black Women’s Playwrights Group. If you could maybe, what is that? What is the Cyber-Narrative Project? Who’s involved? What are some of these projects?

Karen: Ironically, because you never know what’s going to come out of conferences, but this is actually one thing I can say specifically came out of that 2008 conference. Because when we did ask the question, what can we do to make things better, they identified three areas. The first is touring. Many African American women are fabulous actresses. And they will have a one woman show that they have written. And to make a one woman show really your nest egg, you have to understand the world of touring. And presenting. So, they all said, we want to know more about the world of touring and presenting. The second category they identified was university productions. [00:41:00] That, at what school am I going to find a home for a hot minute so I can get that third draft done? And have the students there to help us write it? Not write it, but help us perform it. So that was number two, university productions. And number three was—and again this is in 2008, Facebook was two years old—they said, we don’t know what this digital frontier is about, but we want in. And so, I went to Joe Melillo. Joe Melillo is the, was the head of BAM. He’s still alive and well.

Elizabeth: Brooklyn Academy of Music. BAM.

Karen: BAM. Yeah, Brooklyn Academy of Music. And he was my mentor. Oh, ironically another Catholic University connect. Joe went to Catholic before I did, but we knew people. So I would always trot up to Brooklyn. And Joe would talk to me about the organization. And so I told him, these are the things that they said they were interested in. What should we do as an organization? And Joe said do [00:42:00] the digital frontier because everybody in theater is really scared of it. And that’s true. That’s really true. And so I began to investigate and we put together what we call the Cyber-Narrative Project and what we wanted to do, it goes back to people being scared about it, because a lot of digital work at that point in time had such a bad name. It was because people were put off by it, theater professionals and audiences didn’t quite know what to do with it and theater professionals who were doing theater felt anxious about it because the first iteration you’d come in see the play and you’d have these monitors all around and you think, oh—as a theater and audience member, well, what am I supposed to look at? Am I supposed to look up here at the monitor? I could stay home and watch TV. Or am I supposed to look at what’s going on [00:43:00] the stage? And that disconnect was—and people at that point also, the technologists, the technology people, they didn’t quite know how to integrate their stuff into the theatrical process. And that felt very strained. And made a lot of people angry, you know. Because they’d had these, it just wasn’t working really well.

And so what we tried to do was broaden that idea out of, it’s not just monitors, you just don’t go in and set up some monitors. How are the ways that you can look at the internet and create that link, that Venn diagram where they actually meet and match in a non-intrusive way? Because you still always have to let theater be theater, because when people sat around the campfire, nobody was up there—you know what I mean? “That campfire thing, we got it going on.” [00:44:00] So we looked at before the performance, during the performance, very little during the performance, and then after the performance.

So, for Lynn Nottage, she was at one point, she was doing, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, which got done all around the country, as most of her plays are. And what we did with, we met, we paired with Carnegie Mellon Entertainment Technology Center, and we worked with their students on Lynn’s play. And what she wanted was a website that was rather fabulous. And her husband, Tony, I can’t remember his name. Sorry, Tony. I can’t remember his last name. He had done, he was a filmmaker, and he had done a half an hour very lovely film about the characters in the play. And that became part of a rather elaborate website that we did. And so that made her happy. And that allowed people before they got to the theater to really enter the world of the play, so they didn’t [00:45:00] get distracted by what was going on. The play was the play and then this told you lots of stories, peripheral stories about the play if you went on to the website. And you also had that really great film with Sanaa Lathan in it on the website. Another example of figuring out how to integrate it was we did a little itty bitty video game, little itty bitty, but we got it done, for Christopher Diaz, and he was the New York Times Playwright of the Year in 2011, and he was having a play, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, and it was about wrestling. He didn’t think we were the natural match for that, but it worked.

Elizabeth: Yeah, did Woolly do this?

Karen: Woolly did.

Elizabeth: Woolly, we saw that, right?

Michael: Right.

Elizabeth: Yeah. And they had people with a live video camera going around shooting. Yeah. I didn’t know that. With that incredible wrestling—

Michael: Oh, a lot of theaters were integrating video. When I reviewed [00:46:00] a lot of plays and there were a lot of videos in those plays during the 2010, ‘11, ‘12, all that time. And so, this project must have led you into, because now you have this educational software company, Star Route 19 and you have this project called 12@12NOON. Could you maybe just talk about that because that continues your work in the online space?

Karen: Yes, it does. And 12@12NOON is a private SMS, which is Twitter. It’s a text-based app. And, it’s 12-line scenes, ergo the name 12, 12-line scenes written by award winning playwrights. And each scene is literally 12 lines. It pops up on your phone at 12:00 noon every day. 12 lines at 12:00 noon. And it’s very, you see a graphic, you get a little music clip, and then the scene begins and you navigate from line 1 through line 12. Each line of dialogue appears [00:47:00] on its own separate screen. We try to make it give the, give it agency and interactivity. And you read through, you navigate through the scene, and at the end of it, you get a call to say, Oh, are you intrigued by this? Are you interested? Write your own 12-line scene. And so then, they will, if they want to, it’s, mainly I just want them to read the playwright’s work.

Michael: But there is that participatory aspect to it.

Karen: If you want to do that.

Michael: That’s big in theater. Theater’s trying to get people more involved. ‘Cause that’s what people want.

Karen: Yes, exactly. And then if you do decide to write your own 12-line scene, theater professionals read it and we broadcast at the, a week later, we broadcast five winners. So it’s a weekday thing, Monday through Friday, you get an original scene by an award-winning playwright. And then you write your scene and then theater professionals read it and they rank all of them and they give you comments. And you get a letter in [00:48:00] your mailbox saying, Dear Linda, we really liked your scene. This is what our theater professional said about it. Hang on and make sure you read on Sunday to see if you’re the winner. And that’s, that’s, we’re doing our final beta test now for that end of it.

And it’s just, I enjoy it because it feels like real theater. Because, boy, if you want to, if you want to get into an intense relationship with a playwright, let there be 12 lines. Each line is only 140 characters. There are battles of the hearts. We will throw them at you.

Elizabeth: No killing your babies there.

Karen: That’s right. It’s a precise—and it’s actually surprisingly, these scenes are actually hard to write.

Elizabeth: Oh, I’m sure. Less is more. Less is hard.

Karen: It is.

Elizabeth: To go back to the analog world for a minute, you another innovative theater project that you’ve been a part of is the Young Playwrights’ Theater.

Karen: Oh, yeah.

Elizabeth: Founded, I believe, by playwright Karen Zacarías, [00:49:00] good friend of yours, friend of ours. I understand you were the managing director.

Karen: Yeah.

Elizabeth: Tell us what YPT is, when it was founded, who was involved, what does it do?

Karen: Well, Karen Zacarías founded YPT, I’m not going to be able to tell you the year, but she was there with an administrative assistant running the whole show for a good five or six years. That may not be an accurate number, but she was there by herself, and it took the form of residencies. She would go out to schools, and she would teach playwriting to certain classes. And then we would do a big festival and we would have that happen. But then the exciting part was when we did a tour. We took those plays all out through the city, from elementary schools to community centers. And we did it for a whole month. And that was really—and we had professional actors. And we had a bus. We bought a bus. So everything centered on the tour when the tour [00:50:00] was happening, and we really reached a lot of kids. So that was very exciting.

Michael: Wow, so you, how many plays were you, were a part of this touring?

Karen: You know, I’m going to say ten to 12, because I think they rotated within that. So even though the performances were built for the school day, and they were an hour, the actors actually, during the month rehearsal beforehand, the actors, I think, prepared between seven and ten, but four or five of them, depending on the age of the audience, they would select a particular number of the correct plays for that age group and perform those, but that would change if they were in a high school the next day.

Michael:  Because I’m assuming that the playwrights were creating plays for the Audience that was of their same age.

Karen: Absolutely.

Elizabeth: So these were, the playwrights themselves were students, right?

Karen: The playwrights were, but they, but we were in elementary schools and middle schools and high schools. And my favorite play, the main characters were Ketchup and Mustard. [00:51:00] Ketchup and Mustard.

Elizabeth: I remember in my former capacity as the Community Arts Director at the community-based organization CentroNía, I worked with YPT to have CentroNía youth participate in two productions, one of which was The Thirteenth Summer of William and Pilar that was written by Karen Zacarías and I believe Teatro Gala was part, and the African Continuum Theatre Company, ACTCO. I don’t know if you remember that production, but there were tons of children, kids. There were about, 20 students from, oh, probably middle school through high school. And it was a really deeply community embedded theater production. Can you tell us a little bit about that, or stories about shows like that?

Karen: I’m gonna tell you, I love, that was when rubber hit the roads, when the families are there, and the kids are there, and [00:52:00] everybody’s paying such close attention, and they’re so participatory, and—I will tell this story. Cerna, which is a foundation out of New York.

Elizabeth: Oh, yes, Cerna, yeah.

Karen: Came to see one of our shows.

Elizabeth: Okay.

Karen: And we were just deep into the meaningness of it. You know what I mean? We love that. This is our peak. And so, she came, and she seemed to enjoy it. And she said, “Mmm, you’re not professional enough.” And it had nothing to do with quality of the acting or anything. It was the moment. It was a real event with real people, and real parents, and babies, and sisters, and brothers, and everybody there. I’ll never forget that. I’m trying to forgive Cerna. But I am not interested in forgiving them because we were in our groove. That was magic. And so many of the performances we did, just magic.

Michael: So I, so they must have been talking about sort of the, the audience or the [00:53:00] event wasn’t professional enough in the sense of just the whole—

Elizabeth: All the décor, the—

Michael: —theater, audience reaction, or composition…

Karen: Right. In the European model of what theater is. Because we had lots of Black and Latino kids there and their families and that’s not how your traditional European version of what professional looks like, but those were professional actors. They performed beautifully, and sometimes they weren’t, sometimes they were actual kids, but that’s our groove, too. How to teach anybody how to love theater if you are not there making it with them?

Michael: And at some level, isn’t that sort of the purest expression of what theater is? Just that… where the identification between the production and the audience is like, the same, is one.

Elizabeth:  Yeah, where there’s no differential there. It’s, this is my story, you are here, I am here.

Michael: Oh, wow. Yeah.

Elizabeth: That’s, yeah…

Karen: And we weren’t going to change for her. We loved ourselves.

Elizabeth: It’s a part of theater that gives it a [00:54:00] bad rep. That it’s very formal and pompous and there’s all this, all the, all, it’s very mannered and you have to dress up, and it costs all this money and everything.

Anyway, I want to go back to the theme of technology for a minute. In both the NEA article and elsewhere, you have spoken eloquently about the quote, “intersection of digital and theater.” You said, quote, “The rate of productions at regional and community theaters is less than two percent”—you’ve mentioned that before—”for women of color. Information is power and”—your organization—“predicted that learning more about digital media could help us get more productions and reach more people with our work.” Close quote. Can you talk about the rationale and the power some more, this rationale about going digital? You spoke about that somewhat earlier.

Karen: I think that, to me, I’m, we’re all about the playwright. And the journey, nothing happens—well, [00:55:00] I, this is part of that, when I was talking about 12@12NOON earlier, I was just describing the app, but for us it’s a two-pronged project going back to my roots at Young Playwrights’ Theatre. The second prong of 12@12NOON is taking four actors and going out into the community with those scenes. What we’re trying to do is take the internet, take a wider audience, and grow that audience for these playwrights, so that they can have, they can just, people will know what they write, and how they write, and who they write about.

And you can say, okay, we have 40,000 people who read your scene on Thursday. And then you can, the second part of that, and you can say, and in Indianapolis, 150 people came to the community center with professional actors to see that scene. So that meshing of the world will gone way wide with people who will look down at their [00:56:00] phones and see that playwright’s name and read that playwright’s scene attached to 150 people in Indianapolis actually seeing that scene totally come to life. That comes together and that makes 12@12NOON.

And we did, we have launched our performance series. We did our first in Indianapolis, that’s why I kept saying Indianapolis, last Veterans’ Day. We went out to Indianapolis, and we had a series of scenes—one of our members is in the Netherlands.

Elizabeth: I heard about this, yeah.

Karen: And there’s a little town in the Netherlands called Margraten, and this little town has a cemetery, one of the American soldier cemeteries in it. And—

Elizabeth: From World War II?

Karen: From World War II, and 172 African American men are buried there. And so, my member there coordinated us doing a group project of writing scenes about these [00:57:00] young men. And so we had, we came up with about eight scenes, and then for Veterans’ Day last year, we worked with the Phoenix Theatre Cultural Center in Indianapolis. Their specialty and their focus is new plays, so it was a really good match. And so, we professionally produced with a cast of two, two young men, but we professionally produced those scenes for, and we call it the 172 Project. And it was thrilling. So, we did it in Indianapolis, and then we went two and a half hours, hour and a half south to Fort Wayne and we, then we produced it in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

So it was a tour for the, for Veterans’ Day of these scenes. And it was just magnificent. I, and the audiences were so different. In Indianapolis, the audience was younger. The [00:58:00] audience was, in one of the, one of the scenes is about Life magazine. And at the talk back, at the discussion after the show, I had to say, “Does anybody here know what Life magazine is?” Thank God they did. And one young man said, “Yes, Life was the internet of the 1960s.”

Elizabeth: Excellent description. And didn’t you have some relatives of some of these soldiers who came?

Karen: Yes, that was in Fort Wayne. We had an older audience in Fort Wayne. And one of, everybody—therefore the comments were really different and broader and, broader and yet more specific. A woman who was in her 80s said, she raised her hand, and she was sitting next to her daughter who was in her 60s and she, her daughter was holding her hand because she was, she was crying. And so, she raised her hand and she said, “I was 10 years old when my brothers [00:59:00] came back from World War II. And they were never the same.” And she, tears were just rolling down her eyes. Because then the young men who were performing, they were really real and excellent, and you didn’t think about these young men of Dodge, you were seeing them alive in the moment. And that’s one of the reasons she was so moved. To see her brothers up there, and to think about what else happened to them while they were there, and that once they came home, they were never the same.

Michael: Boy, it sounds like the perfect, a wonderful fusion between the, sort of the online experience and the physical, visceral experience of theater.

Karen: Absolutely.

Michael: And I’m assuming you’re planning on future sort of fusions or productions.

Karen: Absolutely. We did one here on Valentine’s Day [01:00:00] here in Busboys and Poets and Solid State Books. We did another little tour for scenes that focused on love. So that’s the component. That’s, this, moving forward, it will always be live performance and then the app. And what’s been really the proof of the pudding is that 89% of the people who saw the live performance downloaded the app. So they made that connection of here are the words, here’s the life being breathed into them. So that fusion tells me this can work on a community level.

Michael: Well at the end of our talk you need to tell people how they can download the app.

Karen: Yeah, that’s right.

Michael: Because you’ve, you’ve been in DC, you are DC native, so you’ve experienced the many changes in the, the theater experiences as DC folks have experienced it. Could you maybe [01:01:00] just reflect on that journey that you’ve witnessed from, when there was the Hartke Theatre and that was one of the centers, as well as Arena Stage of course, but now you’ve got this burgeoning, sort of, theatre community that’s bustling along, and there’s, what, third largest market in the country at least, or maybe second, third, anyway, there’s debate. Can you maybe talk about that and how that has—it’s a wonderful journey, so maybe can you talk about that?

Karen: It is a wonderful journey and I’ll tell you, I’m, I think two, maybe three weeks ago there was an article in The Washington Post because people are worried. People are worried about theater. It’s centered on, they talked a lot about the statistics and the difficulty of getting the audiences to come back post-COVID. And the simple act of paying your rent. Long Wharf Theatre in Connecticut had to give up their space, and several others had. I think that I don’t feel that way [01:02:00] with Washington. I feel as if, I just, I know it may be somewhat different, but I think we have such a solid community theater that I think that the Studios and the Arenas, those, sort of, larger mid-tier, I think they will figure out a way to stay and be intact. We also have quit, we had quite a diverse group of smaller theaters. Taffety Punk and Smallbeer and I’m not going to be able to name all of them, but they were young people really coming together and doing theater. And we also have the Fringe Festival, thank God. I think they’ve survived and they’re doing fine. So, I think that we are lucky. And I, the smaller tier theaters I’m a little more worried about, you know. But I feel we are doing pretty good here. Pretty good. I’m not in the management [01:03:00] at Arena or Studio or anything like that, but I, as an outside observer, I think they’re going to be fine.  

Elizabeth: Yeah, this, in the metro DC area has one of the highest per capita incomes in the country.

Karen: Yes, and that’s very helpful.

Michael: Although I think you’re on to something with this fusion, and I think probably theater needs to find a way to… so many people are going virtual. They don’t even experience the real world. So many people have their phones recording events as opposed to just experiencing them. So I think theater might need to find some way to make, it’s wonderful, just the idea that you, what you, it’s more than an idea, what you’ve done with the 12@12NOON project, it’s combining the online experience, getting participation, and then having a real event, which only spurs more online—I think that’s a, something that the theater community should look at. Some variation on that.

And [01:04:00] obviously, I think they try to do that with their lobbies. They try to do that with just their outreach in the online, into the online space, but during COVID, I watched some of the online shows, and they were just, ugh, dreadful. I found them dreadful because putting an actual, a show that’s meant for the stage online is not going to be your answer.

Karen: It’s not your answer. I have a friend who did her PhD, this was years ago before all that, but she did her whole PhD dissertation on that. How do you make that transition from a stage play to something that is two dimensional on film? So those are some real basic and fundamental issues. And a lot of stuff I saw was terrible too. It just was because it’s hard and it’s not the same and when you talk about, and you really have to have a director who really has a wider vision than just setting up that camera to make that show happen.

Elizabeth: I know. Theater is not film. Film [01:05:00] is its own discipline. There’s millions and millions of creative tricks of the film trade.

Speaking of advising people, we always ask our interviewees to give some advice, some practical, tangible advice to our listeners on how they can nurture and sustain their own creativity. You’re doing this with so many of your projects. I understand you have two incredibly creative daughters. Am I getting that right?

Karen: Oh, one daughter and one son.

Elizabeth: Okay, so this will be even more poignant. So, can you give advice to either young people or to elders or anyone struggling to manifest and realize their own creative energy and to sustain it in this not always welcoming world? What advice do you have?

Karen: I would say, write. And that, do not—a lot of people [01:06:00] put off writing. A lot of people say, “I don’t have the time, I don’t have this, I don’t have that.” Life just isn’t perfect. And to me, if you can look at whatever you’ve got, look at your own little corners and nooks and crannies, and help yourself, give yourself permission to write down that thought, that line, that name, which would be perfect for so and so character, write them down, tuck them away, because they become yours. So you may, on the day that you actually come up with the perfect name for that character you may not have time to visit it again for another week or two or a month. But if you put it away someplace, keep it, it’s not, it’s just not all gonna—great expanses of time, actually, [01:07:00] they’re not gonna happen. So, find the nooks and crannies. And to write.

Elizabeth: Nooks and crannies. One of the last things we want to talk to you about is what our listeners, what is coming up next for you? You’ve talked about 12@12NOON, lots of your video, audio, digital projects. So can you tell us specifically about what is coming up? Where people can learn more about you, about the Black Women Playwrights’—

Michael: How they can download your app.

Elizabeth: How they can download your app. And just give our listeners a way to take this interview and run with it.

Karen: Okay. You can download 12@12NOON on the App Store and Google Play. It’s there. And it is up, and the scenes are up. And I forgot to mention, do you all know who Regina Taylor is?

Elizabeth: I know the name.

Karen: She did Crowns.

Michael: Oh, okay.

Karen: Down at Arena. With the—

Michael: Oh, with the [01:08:00] photographer Michael—

Karen: Yes. Yes, it started as a book and then she wrote a play of it. She’s a big get for us. She wrote eight scenes for us. And they are amazing scenes. So, I just paused to say that, is that was a very important person for us to reach out to because, she has lots of productions and everything. Regina Taylor’s on there. My members are on there. The 172 Project scenes will be on 12@12NOON. So every day, it’s a new world. So please, just tune in. Tune in. Load in. Download in.

Elizabeth: And Karen, what is the website for the Black Women Playwrights’ Group?

Karen: It’s www.blackwomenplaywrights.org. And playwrights is spelled P-L-A-Y-W-R-I-G-H-T-S. 

Elizabeth: Dot org. Alright. This has been [01:09:00] fabulous. It has been so lovely talking with you at length. Thank you so much for sharing your time so generously with us, and bringing all your expertise.

Karen: Oh, thank you. This has been delightful. You don’t, in the wicked every day, it’s, you don’t stop and look at all sides of it. You don’t look at intimately what’s making you happy. The small things that are making you happy in terms of your career and writing and think about the larger things that are making you happy with what you’re doing. So this has been a great opportunity to do both.

Elizabeth: Wonderful.

Karen: So thank you very much

Elizabeth: Thank you. Karen Evans. Once again, this has been Creativists in Dialogue’s Theater in Community Podcast series.

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The Creativists in Dialogue podcast is supported in part by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and subscribers like you. The Theatre in Community podcast series is supported in part by Humanities DC. Thanks.