Letting the idea take over

Credit application after credit application. I get them almost everyday, asking me to join now and save and get these points or that interest rate. When I was in my 20s those cards were everything. I needed them to both survive and buy all of the things other 20-year-olds had. I needed them — and all of those things — to fill me. But then, there was debt. So much debt. Debt that I carried around for a long time before I finally got out of the haze of their lure.

Then, I thought about that lure and the wanting I had with these cards and their fake promises, offering access to things and experiences and people. It sparked a connection; feeling; an idea. It sparked an idea for a play.

In my new play, “The Debt Collector,” RAYON, is drowning in debt, unable to get out of the cycle she is looped in, even when KJ, a Debt Collector, shows her the real way out. The idea for this experimental play came together because of junk mail. This mail connected me to a moment in my own past that cycled into this other-world where I was able to play, explore, and ask questions.

That’s all to say that ideas aren’t don’t always come when you are sitting at your computer. Sometimes, they come to you on a walk, during a moment of chaos, or when you have the chance to be alone and just think. And sometimes, it’s a feeling that’s hard to grasp. It’s a curiosity about something; a question; a connection to the past. And sometimes it’s just unexplainable. No matter where they come from, you have to write your ideas down. Get them out there, let your mind wander and question as you create your own version of a mental puzzle, known as a play.

Check out The Debt Collector this February at The Tank:


Let’s Make a Play and WMN Unite Host Open Mic Night

2022 is all about creating, connection, and growth. Last night, we experienced all of that (and so much more) at the first ever Creative Series event. Hosted in partnership with WMN Unite and Mimi’s Coffee House, the event featured an incredible line-up of artists, musicians, authors, poets, makers, and visionaries.

Let's Make a Play and WMN Unite Host Open Mic Night

Open Mic Night

Let's Make a Play and WMN Unite Host Open Mic Night

Let's Make a Play and WMN Unite Host Open Mic Night

Let's Make a Play and WMN Unite Host Open Mic Night

Let's Make a Play and WMN Unite Host Open Mic Night

This was the first event in our monthly Creative Series.

Join us next month for Chocolate Dipping and a Heart Opening Ceremony on 2/10.
Check out https://wmnunite.org/creativeseries/ to learn more.

Wait, that was only 2 years ago?

Morning Ritual Serena Norr

Facebook kinda sucks — meta, whatever, they are these days or soon will be — but they do have a way of tugging at the old heart strings with their blast from-the-past posts. This was particularly meaningful when I saw that only 2 years ago I was “back” to being a part of a show by writing “Morning Ritual” for the A Play in a Day Project way back in November 2019.

Morning Ritual Serena Norr

Since then “Morning Ritual” has had 3 productions (!) and will even be performed at University of North Alabama (UNA) for their upcoming  one-act play festival.

That was really shocking to me since I thought it’s been way longer since I came back to playwriting. Since I started kicking my own ass and hyper-focusing on writing plays, producing plays, and even publishing my plays (blah, blah bio), but it was only 2 years ago. That’s it. When my focused shifted, everything changed.

I first heard that playwriting was a thing in college. I always loved telling stories and creating worlds, but the idea of being playwright seemed way to out of reach. I didn’t have a clue — wait, sometimes I still don’t — but back then not having a clue really stopped me from really trying. I would write but I had other things to do: work and partying and then kids. So I pushed it away and did all the other things I had to. In 2010-ish, I revisited writing plays, doing a few shows and then another baby. In 2016/2017, I knew I had to get back to it. I needed it! But how?

In 2018, I signed up for playwriting course at my local community college, connecting to characters and other writers. Finding my way back to the magic. But the real change was with this festival where I was knew I was home; I felt it in my bones. Seeing the characters come to life in less than 24 hours; meeting the actors; working with the director; sitting in the audience.  I knew I had to do what it took to stay there.

This is all to say that playwriting — and writing, in general — comes in waves that ebbs and flows — that’s sometimes rocky and confusing and really hard.  And as you go through the process of unwinding and creating and writing, please give yourself some freakin’ credit for all of the hard work you’re doing — and the work you’ve already done. This stuff is hard and grueling, but damn, it’s worth it. So, keep on, keepin’ on and celebrate. Celebrate your wins, your losses, and your 2-year — and beyond — victories! Celebrate because you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing — even if it doesn’t seem that clear along the way.


To Prompt or Not to Prompt?

There are countless stories to tell. And even if a version of that story has been told, there are millions of other ways to tell it through your unique and incredible perspective, voice, and characters. But we don’t always see it that way. We get stuck, unclear, and experience the dreaded block!

And then, along comes a prompt. A few words or an image to direct you to write something different. A nudge to help you to get your writing juices flowing; help you write freely again. A push in the right direction, so to speak. But are prompts the way to write that story you have been dying to tell? They could be. Or they could be a distraction.

Many theatres use prompts as a way to guide their submissions, which can make it a hinderance to even want to submit. I’ve had many plays that would fit the submission process but it didn’t include the added elements the theatre was asking for. So I could either try to alter my plays with their prompt, create a brand new play based on their prompt, or keep looking for theatres that aren’t so specific.

This can sometimes be exhausting as many theatres have very specific ways of submitting — blind submissions, add a cover letter, references, what is your production history, who is in your cast — that can sometimes add to the pile of things to do before you even send the play.

And sometimes to submit, you have to create a play from scratch based exactly on what the theatre is asking. And I do it. We all do. Because we want our work out there – in any form – into the world. We do it because we love to tell stories. But are these plays what we would have written if we just let our minds be? Probably not and sometimes that’s ok.

My play, Morning Ritual was created via a prompt for the White Plains Performing Arts Theatre, Play in a Day festival. Writers were presented with various images where we picked one to inspire our 10-minute play that we were creating in around 12 hours. I picked a picture of a sleeping women on a cloud and wasn’t sure what I was going to do with that but it was my prompt.

Back home — and knowing there wasn’t much time — I let my imagination go and came up with the idea that the women in the picture underwent a trauma and was now in a sleep retreat going through the trangressive period to clear her mind of what happened. It took on a sci-fi/ other worldy stance with humor (I hope) and characters that I love/am confused by as I commented on pill culture, authority, and what happens to someone both in trauma — and when they are sleeping. I probably never would have created had it not been for that prompt. Same goes for The Wheel Man, which recently had a Zoom production and other monologues that were created only because I was given a jumping off point.

And sometimes it’s the challenge from that prompt that challenges us; gives us permission to try something new; to write freely. Or maybe, we need deadlines and specific parameters to write.

So, what I am really trying to say?

  • Don’t feel as if you have to adjust your write for every single theatre with prompts they request. Pick 1-2 prompt submissions that you align with — both in your writing and where you think you want to go — and try it.
  • Don’t rely on prompts for all of your plays. While they are helpful and can help you to create some incredible pieces, the ideas that are floating around in your head — or the ones that pop in where you’d least expect them — are also the work that should be tapped into.

Bottomline: You have a story to tell and sometimes a prompt can help you get there quicker than you think and with unexpected results.

Happy writing!

What is Let’s Make a Play?

Creating something a wonderful thing. And you don’t have to go to a certain school do it. You just have to use your imagination, and with the guidance and community of Let’s Make a Play, you’ll be able to see your ideas come to life.

Our method is simple: write, mold, collaborate and listen. Students will also learn about formatting, read texts from modern playwrights and have the opportunity to have their plays read out loud.

Who is this class for?

Budding playwrights, lovers of language, writers, dreamers, seekers, storytellers and the curious! Basically, Let’s Make a Play is for everyone!