This guest post is written by Kerry Ferguson, a stage director and writer. Her one-act connect: a memory play premiered in 2007 at Wofford where she also teaches Acting, Directing, and Theatre for Youth. In 2009, Kerry was the recipient of the Hub City Writers Prize in Poetry. An avid blogger and family documentarian, she is always writing, and is currently working on several projects, some for the page, some for the stage.
I was delighted when, several weeks ago, Corinne invited me to read for Writers Reading: a Series on Favorites. The idea of getting a (kid-free!) hour to sit and share some of my favorite words – words that have inspired me as a writer, words that have challenged my perspective as a human, and words that have helped carve out my aesthetic as an artist – was just super cool to me.
And as soon as she asked me, I knew that playwright Naomi Iizuka’s work would be my reading material. A fiercely innovative pioneer of contemporary drama, Naomi writes with poetic flair and energetic eccentricity. Her multi-cultural heritage inspires multi-faceted, complex theatrical structure and themes. Her passion for art, photography and language weaves together gorgeous and efficient scenes. Her writing is quirky, edgy, often controversial, and always memorable.
What I love most about a Naomi Iizuka play is that sometimes things don’t sound quite right at all. Sometimes things happen way too fast. Sometimes you don’t know what is true, what’s a lie, who is right, if anyone is wrong, what is real, if this is all a memory. Sometimes there’s love, lots of time there’s loss, and sometimes men play women who might talk an awful lot about komodo dragon piñatas. Whatever is happening, it’s all just so beautifully written. For me, it stirs the soul, like all great art does.
Her plays –which range from one that examines the authenticity of a recently discovered 11th century Japanese pillow book to another that dives head-first into the gritty street-culture of runaway kids – are like puzzles. Complicated puzzles where no one has the picture on the top of the box to help them piece it all together. The plays aren’t easy to figure out, by any means, but it is so fun and challenging to try and unlock the mystery of the script, of the story.
So I want to thank Corinne and Kari for sending me on this journey, which has lead me to re-examine an old favorite of mine. I appreciate the opportunity and hope to see some of you on Monday, where I will be reading favorite monologues and scenes (with some help, of course!) from the fascinating work of one of my favorite writers, Naomi Iizuka. Come on in and hang out with your friends at the Hub City Bookshop!
See Kerry perform several scenes from Naomi Iizuka’s plays at the Hub City Bookshop, 186 West Main St in downtown Spartanburg, March 21 at 6pm!