Meet the Playwright: Liz Dooley

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Liz Dooley (right) wrote our second Festival Bare Essentials play, Valentino.

Read on to find out more about Liz and the play we’ll be seeing on Monday:

Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m originally from Downingtown, PA (almost exactly between Philadelphia and Amish country). I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in Theatre Arts and Psychology. I first came to Atlanta to take part in Horizon’s Young Playwright’s Festival, then again as a Playwriting apprentice in the Horizon Apprenticeship Program, and I’ve lived here ever since!

What can you tell us about the play we’ll be seeing on Monday?
“Valentino” is about how we relate to ourselves and other people; about what it is that we want to be, and who or what permits us or helps us to be that person, and how we react when the option to be that person is taken away. There’s also an exploration of the impact of celebrity culture, which I think plays a not-insignificant part in that.

What inspired you to write this play?
I first began this play a few years ago, upon learning about two events in 1920’s Hollywood. The first was Rudolph Valentino’s funeral; the second was a flood on the set of the film “Noah’s Ark” (1928), which ostensibly killed 3 extras–all of whose names are lost to time. As the play was written and rewritten, it became informed by the idea of creating and re-creating an identity for oneself over time–the idea that you can actively create the person you are, or at least a persona. This idea has always held interest for me.

What is the importance of staged readings in your own creative process and the development of your play?
It’s very easy to get into your own head while you write–to take for granted that a line or a plot point is coming across the way you intend it to. Hearing other opinions, of directors and actors, as well as an audience looking at the play for the first time, is invaluable to the growth of the play. It’s also fascinating to hear someone point out something in your own writing that you did without intending to, or even realizing that you did!

What do you hope to get out of this Bare Essentials reading process?
I have some questions about the play as it is now, that I hope to get the answers to. I’m also very excited to see the range of reactions people have to the play, and to see how I can take it even further.

What has your experience with this reading been so far?
It’s been amazing! I’m always a little nervous going into a reading, but Julie, Amber, and the cast have been awesome to work with. I’ve already gotten a lot to work with just from the discussions we’ve had so far.

Where else can we see your work, recently, currently or in the near future?
I recently had a First Light reading of my play “Old Forward.” I received a lot of useful feedback from the reading and hope to see how much further I can take that play. I’ll keep you posted!

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Valentino will be read at the West End Performing Arts Center on Monday, August 14, at 7:30pm. Directed by Julie Skrzypek. All readings are free and open to the public, donations gladly accepted.

Festival Bare Essentials readings are produced in partnership with Working Title Playwrights, and playwrights whose work is featured in a Festival Bare Essentials reading also receive a complimentary one-year membership to Working Title Playwrights.