Today at The Adroit Blog, we're happy to welcome our newest contributor, Derick Edgren! Get to know Derick in the best way possible: a self-interview.
Do you want to be the next new Adroit Blog contributor? You know what to do.
Derick Edgren is an award-winning playwright and a first-year student at Sarah Lawrence College where he studies Theatre and Spanish. After writing and directing two plays at Auburn Creative and Performing Arts High School his senior year, one of which was performed at a statewide competition alongside the works of writers such as Qui Nguyen and Lois Lowry, Derick received international success when he was recognized as a finalist/winner for the 2014 Thespian Playworks for his play Skin, published in Dramatics magazine, and forthcoming in an anthology published by Samuel French next June. Derick’s plays have been produced or will be produced by The West Side Show Room, DownStage Theatre Company, International Thespian Society, and La Strada Ensemble Theatre. In addition to being a blog contributor for The Adroit Journal, he writes for College News Magazine and will be featured in their upcoming winter issue. But when Derick isn’t writing he — no. No, wait…No, that doesn’t happen. Some things he loves include buying notebooks (blank pages, no lines) he definitely doesn’t need, the font Garamond, and admiring Sweden from afar. While writing, he tries his best to keep his friends close, and his Jack Russell Terrier closer.
Hey. What are you doing?
You heard me. Aren’t you a playwright?
Yeah, you could say that. And who are you?
I’m you, shut up. If you’re a playwright, what are you doing writing for a literary journal?
Well, it’s kind of a funny story because the two are actually related in —
Is it because you’re a nerd now.
What? No, just —
So, I was a finalist/winner for Thespian Playworks, this festival where I had my play worked on by a professional director and dramaturge —
Yeah, we know, it’s in your bio. Congrats, Tennessee Williams.
— and, funny enough, that’s where I met and became friends with Alexa Derman, who was also a finalist/winner for the competition. She’s rad.
I know she’s rad, you’re like, weirdly obsessed with her.
I know all of this stuff. I’m you.
Just let me talk? So, at that point I didn’t even know about The Adroit Journal, but much later I saw Alexa make a post on Facebook about applying for a position as a prose reader, and I had just begun working for College News Magazine, and was really excited by the idea of working for a literary journal in addition to a more news-oriented magazine. It was something I hadn’t explored and really wanted to. And apparently, I was liked enough to be hired to the team! Not as a prose reader, but a blog contributor, because I applied with not fiction but creative nonfiction as my writing samples. I believe creative nonfiction is an incredibly important development throughout the literary world as it gains a stronger online presence. But, anyway, here I am, excited to be a part of the team!
So you essentially snuck your way into this with a loose connection to the Managing Editor.
What? No, I applied like everyone else.
I mean, we both know you’re really a playwright.
Who says I can’t be both? I actually just wrote an essay about the minimization of homophobia that experiments with the direction of language, shifting from first to second to third person within just a few sentences. It’s been a while since I’ve written anything that wasn’t a play. It was pretty fun discovering parallels between my prose and dramatic writing that I hadn’t noticed before. Since I’ve been at Sarah Lawrence, I find myself writing more and more frequently, all sorts of things. Suddenly I have to write like I have to breathe. I’m catching words like air.
Catching words like air? Alright, calm down, Sylvia Plath. But let’s be real, you’re way more into playwriting than this journalism stuff.
I have to say that journalism has more potential to be immediately relevant in its ties to not just the human condition but to the news. You can’t just write a play every day about this art museum exhibit that’s only showing for a week or something like that.
Tell me, Derick, wordsmith extraordinaire, did you work on a play today?
Please tell us about it. I’m dying to know what your next big project is.
The title is Call of Dharma and it’s being staged here at Sarah Lawrence in about a week. It’s about a writer who suffers from PTSD after receiving an honorable discharge while stationed in Iraq amidst the US invasion in 2003.
Well, it’s less melodramatic in detail. The core of the play relies on the characters’ abilities to get through to each other in that moment; thus, the title. That’s the only way that they can stay together, is if they finally reach a point of acknowledgement that they have a problem on their hands. The wife, Ali, is Buddhist, and, no spoilers, but meditation and mindfulness are big parts of the story in more ways than one.
Okay, okay, well, I’ll try to make it if I can.
Don’t you have any other questions to ask?
I was just riffing. Only reason I asked that much was to make sure you could actually explain your own play. I know everything about you.
Oh, yeah? Well…what’s my favorite album of all time?
Colour the Small One by Sia. You love listening to it when you write.
Hershey’s Cookies and Cream Bar.
When I go to bed and close my eyes what’s the first thing I do?
First thing: think about things you were thankful for that day. Second thing: brainstorm ideas for new plays.
…Man, you’re good.
I told you, you’re just plays, plays, plays.
Would you stop? Writing is about experimentation. I can be a journalist, too, if I want.
Prove to me, prove to all these readers that you can actually write articles and not just plays.
I don’t have to prove anything.
‘Cause you can’t.
I’m sorry — is that a challenge?
It might be.
Oh, it’s game on.
…You’re still gonna be a nerd either way.