Another week and another wonderful playwright enters into our midst. The third and final week of the IPF writing workshop brings Scot Augustson to campus, a playwright based in the Pacific Northwest who brings a plethora of experience writing instant plays with Seattle’s 14/48 Festival since its inception in 1997.
Having spent much of his career in the Pacific Northwest, Scot brings a regional perspective to the workshop and refreshing willingness to discuss Washington state politics. This forward and open personality is something I find reflected on Scot’s approach to writing as I sit down to listen in on the workshop Tuesday night. Discussion at the beginning of class feels organic and unforced. “Anything interesting happen to someone today?” he asks the class. Augustson is digging not for small talk, but for genuine material. “We’ll write based on what happens in real life,” he says of the upcoming week’s focus. His words come out as a statement, but I can’t help but understand them as an enlightening observation: when is it the case that we don’t write about what we see and feel in our real lives?
The class, however, is eager to transition into listening to each student’s response to the prompt Augustson gave them the night before: “Write a funny scene in which friends or acquaintances tackle a problem and begin to interact in that way.” Stories fill the roomas the writers serve as each other’s audience and actors. Distilling that creativity into a concise 10-minute play is no easy task, but Scot is just the playwright for helping these students perfect the art of the short story. Having probably written close to sixty ten-minute pieces for the 14/48 Festival over the years, Augustson understands well how plays can flourish within this process of distillation. His “theatrical economy,” as he refers to it, will no doubt influence the impressionable playwrights as they eagerly await their pinnacle writing prompt Friday and Saturday nights.
Augustson will be on campus until Saturday. He’s excited to have the chance to watch the plays himself. We hope you’ll join us too! Performances begin at 8 both nights. Doors open at 7:30.
Also, look for Augustson’s soon to be released collection of short fiction: The Sleepover Stories.