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A 21st Century Playwright

New TMU contributor Gianfranco Lentini discusses why he's chosen playwriting as his career path. logo

Even the squirrels in NYC are urbanized (stock image courtesy of Microsoft Office Images)

"And the Tony Award for Best Play goes to…" -- As if these words don't repeat themselves enough in my head with the idea that one day my name might come after the suspended silence...

Good morning/afternoon/evening, everyone. My name is Gianfranco Lentini, and I am a playwright. You can even call me Fabio if you find that easier!

What you'll find within this and future posts will be writing on an assortment of topics from my trek to New York City to what it's like achieving a theatrical career. What I hope to accomplish by writing for all of you is to not only entertain and inform the masses but to also get an understanding of the crowd I will one day be writing for. As every writer knows, there is no story if there is no audience.

But let's start off with a little background information: I am from a small town in Pennsylvania and have made the journey to New York to attend college as a double major in English and Drama and to live the dream every artist seeks after… already sounds like a story. However, living here, as every non-native New Yorker knows, can also be quite a culture shock if you don't know what you're getting yourself into.

Here, as opposed to back home, everything is urbanized (even the squirrels, who aren't afraid to scurry up to you and steal that sandwich which cost you $12). The subways are a world of their own and mastering them takes both a degree in rocket science and time management (until you've realized it's as easy as reading the signs hanging on the tracks…). And when it comes to avenues and streets, figuring out which goes where and that what you think is south is actually north and that you need to be on 8th Street and not 8th Avenue just takes patience and time to get acclimated to.

My theatrical adventure thus far has taken me from Long Island to Brooklyn to NOHO to even Harlem, and though I've experienced a lot, I know I'm far from the conclusion of my journey. I've just begun. But along the way, this question has continued to follow me: "Why are you a playwright?"

The question I pose back to these people is "Why not?" Why, when everyone around me is bustling to and from their 9 to 5 jobs in suits too tight to breathe, do I have to stop seeing the world around me and join them? Why, when most people see shapes and colors, do I need to stop seeing the world in words and sentences and conversations waiting to be captured?

The real answer to these questions is that I haven't done anything to make my (let alone anyone else's) life more difficult, so why pretend that I have? What I've chosen to do with my life is to become a mirror for society and capture the details of everyday life. It will vary from one playwright to another their reasoning for writing what they do, but what we can all agree on is that though we exaggerate our characters, we solely tell the truth.

To sound less angsty about it, I chose to become a playwright because I have my own stories to tell, and frankly, putting my name on a book and sticking it on a shelf won't do; that is not real enough for me. I want to mold and shape and educate the minds of those who watch my work come to life. I want my audience to feel that once upon a time, somewhere far away or even right next door, what they're watching might have happened in real life. I need to be heard telling the stories of those who weren't loud enough by themselves.

This is why I've become a playwright.

So if I've struck a chord with you or maybe you've even disagreed with any of my statements, I hope you come back and we'll let the discussion continue.


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