5 Questions for Playwright Bianca Sams


When did you know you wanted to be a playwright?

I've been writing things since I was little...short stories, bad poetry, music. I never really showed any of it to people. I just enjoyed doing it. It was until my first year in college at NYU where we had an assignment in my Acting Class to write a short play for ourselves that I ever even considered writing as a job. Even then I wasn't sure what to make of it. In the end I left NYU with multiple majors one of which was Dramatic Writing.

Who is your playwright hero?

My playwright heroes. Hmm that's a good one. I have a lot of amazing people in my life that has influenced my writing. Richard Wesley. He's an amazing writer and giving mentor over the years. I also really love the work of Suzan Lori- Parks, Lynn Nottage, Sam Shepard, Tennessee Williams, and although not a playwright Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Tell me about your relationship with history and research when crafting a play.

I have to admit I am obsessed with research. Digging through history is a constant high. I LOVE spending time learning about different people and different places & time. It is by far my favorite part of writing. Turning that information into a play can be challenging, but equally rewarding... mainly because there are SOO many awesome stories and details you want to add into a play but, they can't all possibly go in. So it's painful at times to pick and choose...but that is the job of the writer. Dwindle it down to the most necessary parts.

What's the best time and place for you to write, and why? Do you have a go-to writing snack and song?

If I am trying to generate new pages then the best time is early early morning...at like 5 am. It's super quiet. Plus no one is calling, emailing or IMing me. There is also something about being half awake that keeps the horrid "critic" voice at bay -- ya know that little voice in your head that says ugh those pages stink. If I write first thing I can get a lot done before that voice wakes up. Then around noon I start editing...which is the time the critic voice is actually useful because it helps me hone what I've written.

What is that moment for you when you know you're on the right track, that you've got something special?

This might sound weird, but when the characters start talking to me I know I am on the right track. I will wake up hearing monologues or scenes in my head. They starting to show me how they want to move, operate, and how they think. I also sometimes see scenes in my head. Little sketches pop into my mind...and I  go YES!!! That's it! Sometimes it happens when I am researching and all the plot points start to line up and I can finally see a story emerge from the original idea. But, the biggest indicator is when I hear actors reading it back to me. Because there are times when it might feel right on the page, but then you hear it and it's all wrong. Or vice versa. You think...ugh I hate that line...but, then you hear it and go...I love that line!

Learn more about the Ingram New Works Festival here.