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I really appreciate Playscripts and their work toward creating better theater and theater experiences for all. Jay Muldoon Theater Teacher, Fairfield, OH
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7 Questions with Tyler Dwiggins, Author of ‘subText’

Tyler Dwiggins‘s new play, subText, is a hilarious series of vignettes detailing the awkwardness of dating in the digital age. We spoke with the playwright about the inspiration behind the play, collaboration, and writing under-represented characters.

What was the inspiration behind subText?

subText was inspired by one of my dearest friends and my former supervising teacher, Kimberly Ruse-Roberts. On one of my last days as her student teacher, Kim mentioned how hard it was to find comedies that were relevant to her high school students and still made use of a large cast (with more girls than boys).

Very humbly, I said, “Kim, I could totally write that.” So she commissioned it then and there, and we were off to the races! After a flurry of readings, rewrites, and rehearsals, the show was produced four months later!

In short, the script was inspired by Kim and our amazing students. I wrote subText for their voices and talents.

subText explores the myriad ways technology complicates dating and relationships. Any stories about a time technology has betrayed you?

I definitely have overanalyzed and misinterpreted text messages to a hilarious (and sometimes tragic) degree. subText centers around a teenage boy decoding texts from his crush. That may or may not be entirely autobiographical — but you didn’t hear it from me.

subtextYou’ve worked in several different facets of the theater—as a teaching artist and on the licensing side of theater as well. How do you feel this experience has affected your perspective as a playwright?

I think any time you can experience another “side” of theatre, you get better at your main gig. In college, I taught, directed, acted, wrote, produced, and designed. I did a little bit of everything, mainly because of my short attention span. Luckily, it made me better at communicating with other types of theatre artists along the way. The better I can understand the way other artists work, the easier it is to collaborate.

You recently located from Chicago to New York. How would you say the two theater scenes compare?

I spent the last two summers of college in Chicago, and they are honestly complete opposites. The biggest similarity is that you can see truly amazing theatre in both cities. I do miss the attitude of Chicago theatre artists; there’s definitely a sense of generosity and community that I loved while I was there. But I also love the opportunities I have had in New York! They both have their pros and cons.

What type of theater excites you?

I love plays that center around characters that are usually relegated to the supporting cast in most stories. My goal with subTextwas to create a romantic comedy that wasn’t just about the typical ingénues we normally see. The main character in subText is a gay high school student, and the play was written for the racially diverse actors of Muncie Southside High School.

Ultimately, I like theatre that speaks to the universal moments we all share, without ignoring what makes each of us specific and unique. We all fall in love, we all get our hearts broken, and we all suffer from Autocorrect typos.

subTextAny advice for aspiring playwrights?

I think I still am an aspiring playwright! The best advice I have been given is to be patient — with myself, with my journey as a writer, with other people. I have to remind myself of this every single day.

Are you working on any projects now?

I am! I’m about to start a workshop for my next high school play, Orange is the New Glass! It is a fractured fairy tale in which Cinderella ditches the Prince, accidentally gets locked in prison, and eventually brings democracy to the kingdom. Stay tuned!

Tyler Dwiggins is a New York-based playwright and recent Ball State University grad. His first play, Bump, has been showcased at Actors Theatre of Louisville and received a nomination for the National Partners — American Theatre Award at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. His second play, subText, is published by Playscripts and has been produced at Ball State University, Muncie Southside High School, and Burris Laboratory School. His work as a playwright has seen publication in Painless Reading Comprehension (2nd. edition)by Darolyn Jones and Rethinking Children’s Literature. He has also served as a teaching artist at Northwestern University’s National High School Institute (Cherubs program) and Class Act Performing Arts Studio.

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