Ponderings of a Playwright: When Your Words Come to Life

Anthony J. Piccione

OnStage New York Columnist

It’s the whole reason I do it.

I think I speak for the vast majority of playwrights when I say that. After all, if all we cared about was the pure text that we’ve written, there are plenty of other options for us. Authors, poets, essayists, etc. Those are all just a few examples of careers where all you have to do is write something for your audience to simply read, and arguably have that be the ultimate achievement. Yet still, it’s that one experience that playwrights are lucky to have that explains why we do what we do, and why it’s all worth it.

I’m talking, of course, about opening night of a production of your play.

Of course, the thrill of putting on a show and having your audience enjoy it is something that other people in theatre – such as actors, directors, etc. – can relate to, as well. Yet as someone who’s previously worked in multiple roles in theatre for nearly a decade now, believe me when I say this: There’s nothing like being in the audience that night, and seeing your OWN play being what the actors are performing in.

Don’t get me wrong: I loved being an actor, when I was younger. Taking a character, putting my heart and soul into bringing the character to life, and performing on stage in front of hundreds of people was some I especially loved during my high school years, and to a lesser extent in college. My time as an actor truly was one of the most fun and formative periods of my life.

But when those words being spoken on stage were written by you, and when the actors are giving life to a story and characters that wouldn’t exist without you, it’s a whole new feeling entirely. It’s a feeling that is so rewarding and jubilating, it’s almost impossible for even a writer to adequately describe using words.

I had this very experience this past week, when my one-act comedy entitled Two Cousins and a Pizza was presented at the Hudson Guild Theater, as part of the Winterfest Theatre Festival in New York. Over the past year and a half, this play slowly evolved from its origins as an assignment in my Writing Fiction class during my last year of college, to being adapted for the stage for my school’s Playwriting class and being presented to the public as a staged reading, and now, to finally coming to life in the form of a full production, when it made its official world premiere in New York City.

This is only the second play I’ve written to be produced in New York, yet if I’m able to keep writing and producing as many shows that I’m as proud of as this one, I think it’s more than safe to say that I’ll be just fine. To be able to work with some very talented people on bringing this play to life, as part of a festival involving lots of other impressive productions, and to see my play be so well-received here in the best city for theatre in America (if not the world), is something that anyone in my position should hope to be able to do for the rest of their lives.

After all, the whole reason many of us go into the arts, in the first place, isn’t just because of our creative bursts of energy, but also in the hopes of finding an outlet that allows us to show what we’ve created to many people who may enjoy it. I feel very lucky to currently be in a position in my life where I have such an outlet, and to have already had the opportunities I’ve had after less than a year here in New York City. 

With lots of other opportunities that seem to lie ahead, I look forward to having the chance to have this remarkable experience that I speak of over and over again, for many years to come. If this past production is any indication, I probably won’t be getting tired of it, any time soon…
This column was written by Anthony J. Piccione: Playwright, producer, screenwriter, actor, poet, critic and essayist based in New York City. 

To learn more about Mr. Piccione and his work, please visit www.anthonyjpiccione.tumblr.com. Also, be sure to follow him on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AnthonyJPiccione.OfficialPage) and on Twitter (@A_J_Piccione). 

Photo: Elizabeth Holzman and cast in rehearsal for "Mr. Burns, a post-electric play" at Capital Stage Company. (Photo by Barry Wisdom)