The Life of an Honors Playwright

Author: Morris Mclennan

At six a.m. every morning, I wake up, drink a tall glass of fair trade biodynamic keto coffee that’s been flown in from an independent New York coffee shop, and I go on a run while listening to audiobook readings of Bertolt Brecht’s full theoretical discography. I then go home, change into my black vintage trench coat, and spend the next eight hours chain smoking and writing plays on a typewriter and using my massive brain. 

That is, of course, not true at all. Sorry. Truthfully, I roll out of bed 30 minutes before my online classes and wear the same Full Sweatpant Outfit every day. I have to shake my brain around like an Etch-a-Sketch in order to generate the occasional intelligent thought. But I do write plays. 

What is a playwriting major? Sometimes when I tell people I’m a playwriting major they say “oh so you’re gonna write movies?” I am now going to use this opportunity to publicly state that no I am not going to write movies. I don’t like movies, I watch like three movies a year, and my visual processing abilities are about as developed as a toddler’s. Film is generally a visual medium and plays are generally an auditory medium. So what I actually do all day is, I think about how people talk and what that sounds like. And then I write it down. It’s a lot of fun. 

Figuring out what I was going to do with my life in high school was an interesting time. I have always been invested in a lot of different things. By senior year, I was deciding between majoring in physics, going to plane school to be a pilot, and majoring in playwriting. You might think playwriting would lead to the fewest number of post-college practical job opportunities, but uh……… all three are maybe not the best options for finding a linear path in life. But hey, does anybody have a linear path in life these days? 

The conclusion I came to was this: I am going to write plays for the rest of my life because I love it and it’s fun. So I may as well start there, and if I want to study or do something else later, I can. I’m going to live a very long life but the first thing I want to do is learn as much as I possibly can about plays! And now, three years into my epic playwriting studying adventure, I’m really glad that was the choice I made. I’ve made a bunch of friends and written a bunch of plays. I have a bunch of theatre knowledge in my brain now (but not the Bertolt Brecht full discography… yet). And, even though every day I wake up and there’s a new apocalypse to worry about, I’ve decided to be hopeful anyways. 

At some point, it will be safe to go to theaters again. The repurposed laundromats and cafes and churches that housed Chicago’s iconic theatre scene will fill up with new companies, new people, and new ideas. And it’s going to be so exciting to be there, figuring out the future. 

I think we’re actually really lucky to be young right now. Maybe nothing matters because the world’s ending. But that means the stakes are low. That means we can do anything. 

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