#CreateYourOwnWork: 5 Questions with Sarah Elizabeth Grace

unnamed-11. Who are you, and what do you do?
 
I’m Sarah Elizabeth Grace, and I’m an actor and writer.
 
2. #CreateYourOwnWork: what does that mean for you?
 
The hashtag #createyourownwork means so many things to me! Creating your own work puts you in the driver’s seat – you can cast yourself in the role of a lifetime. I find I’ve created my own work when I’m in between gigs and I have a halfway-decent idea for a show.
My first foray into creating my own work was when I wrote and performed a one woman show called “Mental Nudity” in 2013. It was an hour-long romp about the trials and triumphs of growing up, where I read from childhood diaries, used puppets, and sang along to ukulele. It was produced at the PIT Underground and Standard ToyKraft.
After steadily performing in various films, TV shows, and theatrical productions, I hit a dry spell in 2016. That’s when I began to write “More”, my first multi-character, full-length play. I was sick of not being considered for certain parts, so I decided to write my own. I also wanted to create more nuanced male characters, and address addiction in a way that wasn’t a total cliche. After several readings in my living room, “More” went through a playwriting lab and had its public reading debut at the Drama League Studio in October 2016.
In my post-election rage, I also wrote a hour-long drama pilot about a post-apocalyptic matriarchal society where all the men are dead. That was fun!
Now, “More” is being produced as a fully staged production at the Secret Theatre’s Unfringed Festival this August and I couldn’t be happier. I’m in a play that addresses issues I’m passionate about, and I’m playing a role that was literally made for me!
 
3. What have you gained by creating your own work; on the flip side, what challenges have you faced?
 
In creating my own work, I’ve gained a sense of autonomy and purpose. I’ve booked the job already, so there’s a sense of confidence that comes with it, too. It’s nice to get hired for outside projects, but producing your own work brings a substantial sense of accomplishment.
The challenges of creating your own work is that, when you’re writing, there’s no deadline! Then when you get into production, the financial and logistical aspects can be daunting. I could say that there’s a challenge in handing over the material to the director and other actors, but I’ve been very fortunate to work with kind and talented people who I trust. Having a few cheerleaders around when you’re creating your own work is essential!
 
4. What do you think is the most important skill for a creator building his/her career from scratch?
 
Dedication.
No one is watching you or keeping you accountable when you’re building something from scratch. Always have a game plan on how you’re going to finish a portion of the work you have ahead of you. Know what your strengths are and where you’re going to need extra support. Go to a coffee shop if you have to (like me!), have an accountability buddy, join Facebook groups of other artists, go support others’ work, have breaks, eat good snacks, drink lots of coffee…basically, use the tools you need to use in order to complete it.
Anything can be done as long as you take it one step at a time.
 
5. Which project of yours are you proudest of?
 
I am immensely proud of “More”, from the words on the page to the casting to what we’ve discovered in rehearsals. I love challenging the meaningless mainstream, white, patriarchal expectations. None of our actors would necessarily be cast in our roles if we were following Hollywood standards – especially me. This is a realistic play. Our characters are flawed people who are trying the best they can, like a lot of people in this world, and we thought the people onstage should reflect reality.
“More” runs at the Secret Theatre August 13, 18, 23, 27, and Sept 2nd. Tickets can be purchased at unfringed2017.bpt.me

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