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The Subtext: Audrey Cefaly and Lisa Langford on Overcoming Rejection

Catching up with two playwrights at the National New Play Network showcase.

The Subtext is a podcast where playwrights talk to playwrights about the things usually left unsaid. In a conversation that dives into life’s muck, we learn what irks, agitates, motivates, inspires, and ultimately what makes writers tick.

This month on The Subtext, Brian speaks with Audrey Cefaly and Lisa Langford while attending the National New Play Network Showcase in December of 2018.

Audrey Cefaly.

Up first is Audrey Cefaly. Cefaly has developed plays with the National New Play Network, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Signature Theatre, Serenbe Playhouse, Aurora Theatre, Florida Rep, Theater Alliance, Quotidian Theatre Company, University of Alabama – Birmingham, and Contemporary American Theater Festival. She is published by Samuel French, Smith & Kraus, and Applause Books. She is a member of the 2019 Playwrights’ Arena cohort at Arena Stage and was recently named a Traveling Master by the Dramatists Guild Foundation. She is an outspoken proponent of silence in storytelling and has authored numerous articles on the topic of playwriting for HowlRound and Samuel French’s Breaking Character magazine.

Brian and Audrey talk about supporting the people around you when acceptance/rejection season arrives, and the importance of finding fellow travelers who support your work. Their conversation takes place only hours before the showcase of Audrey’s play Alabaster, and they discuss the stakes of the reading and what she hopes may come of it (listen to find out the aftermath of the reading).

Lisa Langford

Next, Brian talks to Lisa Langford, who earned a B.A. from Harvard University. She studied acting at the Juilliard School and completed her theatre training at the American Repertory Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard. She worked with Maya Angelou to develop Dr. Angelou’s line of social expressions, “Life Mosaics,” and later received her M.F.A. in playwriting from Cleveland State University. Her play The Art of Longing was a finalist for the Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women Performance Writers and a semifinalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s 2017 National Playwrights Conference and was produced in the fall of 2018 at Cleveland Public Theatre. Lisa was also a finalist in NYC’s the Playwrights Realm’s Scratchpad Series and selected for the National New Play Network’s Cross Pollination Project’s Kitchen Dog Theatre leg. Her 10-minute play The Bomb, about the Black Lives Matter movement, is published in the anthology, Black Lives, Black Words.

Having both just seen the reading of Cefaly’s Alabaster, they quickly get into their shared love of goats and other animals. Lisa has lived a dual life as an actor and a playwright, and has the good fortune of being recognized for both career in her home city of Cleveland. Her hope: that a theatre will someday allow her to perform in her own plays.

Lisa sees a good number of plays that feature young people going through crisis, but as a woman in her 50s, she yearns for plays that feature older characters with agency. So she writes plays with characters who experience sex, hope, and laughter, because, Lisa explains, women go through a sort of second puberty and hormonal change as they age, and she wants to see that onstage.

Download the episode here.

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