Quiara is a 1993 winner of the Annual Festival, Tony-nominated author for the book for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “In the Heights,” and a finalist for the 2007 and 2009 Pulitzer Prizes.After all these years, you continue to stay involved with Philadelphia Young Playwrights - what is one thing you have gained from your work with Young Playwrights that you feel is invaluable?
A sense of community. Writing has always been about community to me. The earliest things I wrote grappled with Philadelphia—its people, its struggles, its eccentricities. Philadelphia Young Playwrights is my theatrical home in my hometown. I carry that wherever I go. I know when I worked on my 10th grade play with PYP, I felt less alone in the world. I was working with other young writers and thinkers and intellectuals, and I can tell now, when I return to teach students atPYP, that the sense of community through writing and storytelling persists.
How has being involved in Young Playwrights helped you in your field as a professional playwright?
By grounding me. They are in my core, forever. When I am alone, in a room, deciding what play to write, what story to bring to the world, they are deep in my core whispering, “Don’t forget where you come from.” Also, they did give me my first production, so they got my hands wet with collaboration in all its messy overwhelming glory.
What advice would you offer to a student who is considering participating in the Philadelphia Young Playwrights program, writing a play and submitting their work to the Annual Playwriting Festival?
Go for it! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Playwriting is so much fun and can be very empowering. Tell your story. Be creative. Think outside the box. Tell the story like it’s never been told before. Eavesdrop on conversations in public, too. How do people talk? It’s fascinating! Become a student of human beings: observe them at all times and take mental notes.
For a more in-depth interview with Quiara, check out our feature in Teachers and Writers Magazine.
Read a profile of Quiara in The Philadelphia Inquirer!
For more information on Quiara, please visit her website.