There was a time in the pandemic, months ago, when the only way out was a comfortable ignorance of ever escaping its grasp. Conversations flew at rapid speed, morbidly predicting next week’s body count. We were confined to each our own, white walls, linen curtains, and mind exerting screens. We forced ourselves to be content with isolation, while treasuring those fleeting, wholesome moments when everything seemed alright.
Recently, in my transition to playwriting and the emergence of a vaccine, I have begun to confront the seclusion of quarantine. I’ve become more aware of the hundred little moments that happen all day: fleeting debates with the delivery man and sitting on a park bench and basking in the lambent sunlight, as they go back and forth between themselves.
Despite my being a novice, I have concluded that some of the most important things for a playwright is connection and observation. Inspiration can come from the flippant remarks of a cashier or mundace troubles like building a birdhouse. Thanks to our artist in residence, Conner Bassett, I’ve found that we can make an entire play, beginning to end, a comedy farce revolving around the inability to follow a simple instructions manual. Conner has built his classes on providing us time and prompts to write material every class. Taking advice from WS Merwin, this time and surplus material has been a necessity as far as turning in our credited plays at the end of the week.
Being in quarantine it is likely that characters and conflicts emerge from our own homes, subconsciously. Yet, Conner strays us from our uncomfortable dining room chairs, the hum of our fridge, and our beckoning couches to the outside world; outside our homes, city, and sometimes even our own minds. I may not have a firm grip on the technicalities of a play script but I can appreciate its originality and its erasure of cynical quarantine thinking.
Tiarri Washington, Class of ’24