Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in the Northeast part of Philadelphia in Lawncrest. I went to a very secluded, strict charter school close to Bensalem where I felt very oppressed and like an outcast. Attending SLA has helped me discover who I am as a person as well as who I want to be in the future. After my senior year, I plan to attend university and study towards a career in engineering! I also plan to take up a minor in theatre to continue my playwriting career.
What was it like to hear that you were a winner of the Annual Playwriting Festival?
When I got that phone call and email; the joy and pride I felt was surreal. I have always had a really deep love for theater and everything about it. In my past, I never got the chance to showcase my writing, directing, or acting skills, and to have this kind of opportunity from such an amazing company such as PYP is a blessing, really.
Tell us about Prom Queen. What inspired you to write it?
Prom Queen is about a teenage boy at the peak of his senior year preparing to go to his Senior Prom! He is very excited about it, but deals with both external and internal conflicts. He has this desire to be himself and feel like himself wholly a this prom by wearing a dress instead of a suit. He is hesitant because he believes that his loved ones and others in his life won’t accept him for his identity and ways of expression. This play shows his emotional journey as well as the journeys of the others in his life. Prom Queen is inspired by the queer people in my life who go through so many struggles behind closed doors, and who feel like no one understands them or accepts them, when in reality there are so many people willing to support them. This play is for people who may be trying to find themselves, who may need to learn about the community more as an outsider, or for anyone who enjoys theater with deep, complex characters and plot!
What has the process been for New Voices? What has been the biggest challenge? What is most exciting?
The process has been quite the experience! I know some of the rehearsal and choreography process from my early theater days, so I was able to keep up with the rest of the team. The biggest challenge was making sure each character had their voice heard and was represented in a fitting way for both the story and the character themselves. I didn’t go against this challenge alone, though. I had my dramaturg Carlos by my side as well the director of my play Bi who both gave such great insight and questions for the story to help me make this story as complex and as amazing as it is now. Honestly, everything about the process was exciting! The struggles and the triumphs have all made such a roller coaster of an experience, and I have enjoyed every second of it. From meeting the actors to designing stage behavior and movement.
What is one thing you are learning through this process? What stands out?
Something I learned throughout this process was the importance of collaboration between a team when creating a work on stage. Everyone involved can have a different viewpoint and amazing ideas to collaborate on and develop together as a team to make the whole production better than it could have been if one person had been calling the shots.
Prom Queen by Lily Rivera is included on Bill One of the 2018 New Voices Workshop Productions beginning October 25th. All performances, running through November 5th, are Pay What You Decide. Reservations are required.