#WriteChange: Kristin (K.D.) Carlson

Featuring recipients of DGF #WriteChange Scholarships

Kristin (K.D.) Carlson, one of 10 recipients of a DGF #WriteChange Scholarship

In a world that’s too often divided into “us” and “them,” the dramatist insists that we are all part of “us.” I believe that as dramatists we are called to tell the truth to the best of our ability and to love our characters unconditionally (even the unpleasant ones). Only when we embrace the messy truth of our human frailties can we celebrate the joy of our shared strengths.

To me, there is no better training ground for empathy than the stage. Theatre allows us to take a step back and explore our differences in a safe space, together, weighing events as they happen to “other people.” From that slight remove, it’s easier to see our common humanity.

In short, the dramatic arts offer us a way to love our neighbors even when we disagree with them. And from where I stand, that’s the dramatist’s ultimate purpose.

To fulfill this purpose, the dramatist serves as both a roving bard and a court jester. As bard, the dramatist helps the community make sense of shared experiences — through a living, ever-evolving, ritual of embodied storytelling. As jester, the dramatist exposes the naked emperor and prods us to laugh (and cry) at our shared foibles and imperfections.

I also believe that those of us who write plays have a duty to the actors, directors, designers and audiences who will enliven, inhabit, and attend them. It’s our responsibility to do everything within our power to create work that showcases the unique gifts of our collaborators — no unfulfilling roles contrived just to move the plot along, no tyrannical stranglehold on the artists who have gathered to help us breathe life into our words.

But most of all, as dramatists, I believe that we have a responsibility to the audience — to honor their intelligence and deliver a theatrical experience that rewards their trust.

Because theatre is not a solo sport, playwrights must rely on community in a very real way. No dramatist’s work can come to fruition without the involvement of an extended community of producers, actors, directors, designers, theatre companies, and supporters of all stripes. Some provide venues, others time and talent, and still others the willingness to come and see new work. All are invaluable.

To rephrase a well-known quote, it takes a village to raise a dramatist.

For me and my work, attending the Dramatists Guild gathering offers many benefits — the ability to learn with and from my peers, the opportunity to garner sage advice from theatre legends, and the chance to immerse myself in a wider community of dramatic artists. But these personal and professional boons are not the end of the story.

Within my local community, I oversee a new play workshop for a regional theatre, teach playwriting at a community college, and serve as a teaching artist at four area high schools. When I discover new writing strategies, so do my students. When I become a better advocate for my own playwriting, I become a better promoter of submissions from other playwrights. And when I hone my skills, audiences are rewarded for their early faith in my work — and for their theatre patronage.


Kristin (K.D.) Carlson is a playwright and poet with recent work appearing in The Asheville Poetry Review, Shark Reef Literary Magazine and Writer’s Digest Magazine. Her short play, “The Interview,” was a semi-finalist in the Minnesota Shorts competition. A Vintage Stage production of her AACT award-winning play, “Unmarried in America,” runs May 8 through June 21, 2015 in Aurora, CO.


DGF #WriteChange Scholarships

The Dramatists Guild Fund awarded ten writers from across the country with DGF #WriteChange Scholarships. The $500 scholarships will help dramatists offset the cost of travel for attending one of the largest conferences for American dramatists. The Dramatists Guild’s National Conference in La Jolla, CA July 16 -19, hosts educational programing and networking opportunities with hundreds of writers from across the country.
Ten dramatists were selected from over 80 applications. Recipients of DGF scholarships hail from California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Washington D.C.