Kristen Da Silva lives and breathes theatre; she’s an award-winning playwright, having penned the fourth production for our 2023 summer season, Where You Are, and an accomplished actress, starring in last summer’s production of Halfway There by Norm Foster.
We sat down with Kristen to talk about what it’s like to write a play, how long it takes, and what themes she’s drawn to exploring while writing, among other topics.
Lighthouse Festival (LF): How do you go about writing a play – do you start with the characters, the plot, the setting, or something else?
Kristen Da Silva (KD): I often start with a question. What would happen if…And then I try to answer that question in the play. Before I sit down to write, I generally will have characters in mind, maybe a few lines of dialogue or scene ideas.
LF: How long does it usually take you to write a play?
KD: It usually takes me between 4-12 months, depending on the play.
LF: Do you work on one play at a time or do you work on several projects at once?
KD: I have worked on more than one play at a time but I prefer to work on just one and give it my complete focus.
LF: Do you draft your pieces before you start writing, or do you just let the story “take control” and see where it goes?
KD: I have a loose idea of the story going in but I do very much let the story take control and see where it ends up. Sometimes that involves some unexpected detours and even dead ends, but that’s all part of the process. It’s sometimes interesting to go back and look at early drafts of a completed play and see how it evolved.
LF: Do you collaborate with others during the writing process (e.g., directors or actors), or do you prefer to write alone?
KD: I prefer to write alone, however I get a lot of support from directors and actors once I have a draft, through workshops and in the rehearsal process. Their contributions are really valuable. Occasionally I’ll read a work in progress with an actor friend to hear the rhythm of the dialogue out loud, but often it’s me in my office reading all of the characters’ lines.
LF: Are there any specific themes or topics that interest you and that you often explore in your work?
KD: I’m interested in many topics but mental health is one I’m drawn back to time and time again. Relationships, also. Often how the two things impact one another.