Ever since I was in middle school, I loved reading. I fell in love with books in an instant and I still consider books to be my wisest teachers and advisers in any life situation. Classic literature has a unique power, in my opinion. With every word, with every page, I get closer to wisdom, even though I believe I cannot consider myself to be wise having read a few hundred books.
In my junior year in high school, I took a theater class. It was not so much about acting to me as it was about reading and analyzing plays. This is probably when I first realized that I wanted to write plays.
My desire to be a playwright only grew in college. When I majored in Classic English Literature, a lot of my friends and relatives were puzzled. Some of those closest to me openly asked what I was going to do with this major. To be frank, when I chose my electives in college, I never thought much about the practical side of the matter. I selected those courses that were most interesting to me. I read books and plays that I later learned had a great influence on my personality and literary tastes. With playwriting, you never truly go into the profession for the money, or status, or popularity. It is just in your heart—this adamant feeling of belonging to this profession, desiring to write against any and all odds. It is a sentiment of knowing what you should do in your life.
I can still vividly recall my first visit to a theater. It was then, back in high school, that I instantly felt the magic of theater upon first entering our small local drama theater. The first play I saw on a professional stage was Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Blossom. Viewing it made me spellbound. I could not fall asleep when I went back home. After hours of tossing and turning in my bed, I turned on my bedside lamp, sat up with my laptop and wrote the start of my first play. It told a story of a small theater in a Kansas town, where nobody really understood what theater was about. A strange man had moved to this town and started building the theater, despite everyone telling him that the idea would be a failure and that people of that town were not made to love theater, as it was too high class for their simple lives. While the theater was being built brick-by-brick, the lives and attitudes of people living in the town started evolving and developing in the most unexpected of ways. That theater symbolized the inner growth of the town’s residents. So, surprisingly or not, by the time the first ever play was about to be performed on the stage of the newly-opened theater, practically all of the town’s population was anticipating the premiere.
The idea of my first play was very much about what theater is to me. I believe art can change people, that art is for everyone, no matter their beliefs, interests, and professions. My play also centered on the concept that theater is a universal art that speaks eternal truths and values that never go out of fashion. I am extremely disappointed that the majority of people in the US have stopped going to theaters, preferring cinemas, clubs, restaurants, or evenings in front of their TVs. America has only a few modern playwrights and this is a serious oversight on our part. Every generation ought to have its own art. Sure, classics are great as they teach us those important lessons that lay a foundation for developing any personality. However, it might be due to the fact that our productions mostly focus on classical plays and pieces that theater has become so unpopular in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. Our lives have changed since Shakespeare, Chekhov, Miller, Dostoevsky, and Beckett. I do not believe that the modern-day generation of Americans is not creative enough to produce their own contemporary classics. There is a social need to empower the new generation of playwrights, one of which I am willing to become.
My dream is to make theater a worthy alternative to cinema for Americans of all ages and, with the help of the WMU Lawrence, Clara & Evelyn E. Burke Scholarship, I believe I can make this happen by becoming a professional playwright.