Stage Writes

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Donna Hoke chats up Stage Rights about her process and her new play: Flowers in the Desert

By   Posted 7.18.2019   dating, drama, Divorce, Donna Hoke

The Sons and Lovers playwright goes beyond her bio and tells us what scares her about her latest play Flowers in the Desert, which is also this week's Stage Rights Pick of the Week!

Tell us something about yourself we wouldn’t get from the bio on your website?
I have two sets of twins--girls and boys--and I can't eat a bagel unless the cream cheese fully covers it. 
What motivates you to write?
Ideas. When I have ideas that won't let go, I get antsy to start getting them down. Of course, once you get into the thick of it, they don't always come out easy, but by then, it's too late to stop. If it's a commission, I have to find something to excite me about it; that usually happens once I start creating characters.
Do you find it hard to let go of a play once you’re finished with them? 
The saying "plays are never finished, just abandoned" is true. For me, the life cycle of a play is—write a draft, pay my dramaturg friend a Starbucks card for feedback, rewrite, hold a home table read, rewrite, ask other friends for feedback, rewrite, start sending out to a bunch of opportunities and hope something comes back, go to readings that you've gotten, rewrite, keep sending and hope for more readings, development opportunities, and/or contest wins, and, finally, production. That whole cycle can take anywhere from a year to five or more; I do have plays that have yet to complete it with a production. But to answer the original question, I probably tweak something after every reading, but given that I've probably written several other plays since then, I've pretty much let it go to the point where I no longer want to dive in and do major rewrites because I'm way more excited about pieces that are earlier in the cycle.
Tell us where the idea Flowers in the Desert came from? 

Another common phrase in playwriting isn't "write what you know" but "write what scares you." Though plot-wise, there isn't a lick of truth in this play, it's still my most autobiographical. 
What’s next on your plate?
I'm writing two commissions, both with first drafts due in March. This fall, I have college production of TEACH, which won the inaugural Guilford Technical Community College New Play Initiative, and in November 2020, the world premiere of LITTLE WOMEN... NOW, a contemporary adaptation of the classic novel. I just finished a new comedy so I'm at the "table read at home step" with that because there is a theater that wants to do a September 2020 production. And I have several others plays I'm itching to get at that are probably just going to have to wait.

In this riveting two-hander about divorce, infidelity, and making up, Britt asks unfaithful Joe to make one last go of it. Things appear to go according to plan until he realizes that Britt has a very specific agenda.

1M, 1W | 80 mins

Flowers in the Desert 600X600

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