Sarah Pitard is originally from Chicago, where she got a BFA in Acting from The Depaul Theater School. She lived there for several years as an actor, but moved to London in 2009 to study for an MA in Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media at The Central School of Speech and Drama. Ever since she graduated, she’s been writing plays and film scripts. Some of which have been on in small festivals here and there. She started Paradigm Theatre Company in January 2012. The company is the only rep fringe company in London. Sarah’s play ‘The Inappropriateness of Love’ is currently playing at The Hen and Chickens theatre, Islington, until the end of September. I asked Sarah to answer our 9 questions…
1. Tell us about your background.
I’m originally from Champaign, IL… which is about 2 hours south of Chicago. I grew up as a child actor, doing all sorts of community theatre and then professional theatre by the time I was 12. I did my first leading role in an equity production when I was 16 and then went off to Chicago to persue acting. I graduated from the Theatre School at DePaul in 2007, where I focused on modern drama and stage combat. The writing came a bit later.
2. Focusing on writing: What was it that made you start?
My senior year at DePaul, I did an independent study with the playwriting teacher… My movement class conflicted with the normal playwriting class, so that’s why I got a class all on my own… I was reading a lot of English literature at the time and my brain was full of ideas… I had a teacher who suggested I begin writing, so I took the class and, of course, I loved it. From an exercise in the class, I devised a full-length script and that became the first play I ever wrote.
3. What is the project you dream of making happen?
I have a screenplay that I desperately want to have produced… but I want a big budgetted company to do it and I want a director like Spielberg or Joe Wright… someone who’s keen on epic dramas to direct it. It’s a film about archaeological forgery, but I don’t want to say anymore *wink*.
4. What are you working on next?
Well, I’m producing my second full-length play in November. It’s an adaptation of two of Oscar Wilde’s short stories. And I’m working on another full-length that takes place in Florida… a comic drama type of thing… And I’m also collaborating on a new musical, but I’m not allowed to talk about that at the moment.
5. What do you love or hate most about the writing process?
I love the creation. I love sitting in a pub or at a cafe and zoning out, not having to think about all the crap that’s going on at work or how much money I owe to various billing companies. I don’t know if there’s anything I hate about it, but I guess I hate not having a lot of time to spend on my writing. Juggling work and producing with writing is very hard!
6. Where do you go for inspiration?
Inspiration is difficult when working full-time, however, I recently took a magical trip to Turkey… it was an old Greek ghost town that was abandoned in the 1920s… I spent ten days there and wrote an entire play… If only I could do that all the time!
7. Any advice for writers starting out?
Write EVERY DAY. It doesn’t matter if it’s crap. Sit down at the keyboard and type. It’s amazing what can come of a small exercise. Most of my plays have been expansions of smaller pieces. Be okay with the fact that a lot of what you write isn’t any good. I’d say that a majority of my work is never seen by anyone but my cats.
8. Does your writing run away with you? Or do you plan it?
Both. Some plays I’ve literally written in less than two weeks, simply because I had them in my head for so long. Others have come out of blind writing. Obviously, doing an adaptation is different and writing a historical piece is a different game entirely, but I try not to limit the ways in which I devise… it keeps everything interesting
9. Tell me about your theatre company?
Paradigm is the only rep fringe company in London. I started it so that I’d have a platform to produce my own work and also so I could give actors a home. London is quite ageist and being older than 25, I was limited to the kind of literary programs I could join… So voila! Paradigm! I run the company like a Chicago Rep company, so we’re doing 4 shows a year, all of which operate under a season theme. This year, it’s “The many Faces of Love” and our production, “The Inappropriateness of Love” is running at the moment until the 29th at the Hen and Chickens Theatre, Islington. You’ll have to check it out!