Interview Series - Writers' Circle - Aryn Strickland on The Places We've Been

Sitting outside a Starbucks at night, Aimee anxiously awaits a first meeting with a sister she didn’t previously know existed. Can the distance of a lifetime ever be crossed? Are people capable of leaving behind their experiences to bridge the emotional gap?

Aryn Strickland, member of the Writers' Circle shares details with about her process, her ambitions and journey of her blooming theatre career with Advisory Board Leader Sabah Haque. Aryn developed her play The Places We've Been over the season under the guidance of Festival Associate, actor and playwright Jeff Ho.

Sabah How did you come to find yourself in theatre?
Aryn While I was in high school my family and I were living in Dubai, the UAE and I got really involved. I took part in international drama festivals through my school and outside of school I took performance classes and was an assistant teacher at the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre. During that period I became really passionate about theatre.

Sabah How did you discover your interest for playwriting?
Aryn After my first year of undergrad at UofT I was applying to the performance stream in the Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies program when I realized that it offered playwriting as well. By the end of my second year I knew that performing was no longer an interest for me. I applied and got into UofT’s playwriting course and really enjoyed it. I continued to write plays as a personal hobby after the course ended.

Sabah What inspired you to write The Places We’ve Been?
Aryn In one of my first playwriting classes my professor set us the exercise in which we had to try to write the worst possible scene in 10 minutes. Reading back over what I had written, I found something really interesting about developing the bizarre situation of two teenagers staring into a Starbucks window at night.

Sabah What is your writing process like?
Aryn I don’t have a certain amount of time that I set aside for writing. I am trying to teach myself to devote at least half an hour every other day but it hasn’t worked so far. When I do sit down to write, I always start by setting a timer and then I write for 10 minutes straight without stopping. It helps me focus and alleviates any self-conscious internal blocking, which prevent me from being able to write

Sabah How would you describe your play in three words?
Aryn Discovering family ties.

Sabah What has been a challenge of working on this play?
Aryn Finding the time to write or even think about how I want to develop it. This year was the last year of my undergraduate degree and I was also applying to grad school so certain times during the year were just really hectic for me.

Sabah What do you hope to accomplish with your theatre career?
Aryn I hope to continue to pursue playwriting and enter other drama festivals. The dream would be to see one of my plays fully performed one day but at the very least I hope to continue to write creatively even though I am currently focusing on a future as a journalist.

Sabah How has the mentorship you have received through the Paprika Festival benefitted your work?
Aryn I have found it easier to stay on track with the goal I initially set myself entering the festival which was to finish my play. It has helped me improve my work through getting more direct and consistent feedback while also enhancing my confidence in my work as a playwright.


Catch the free reading of The Places We've Been as apart of the 15th Annual Paprika Festival, in partnership with Native Earth Performing Arts.

When: Saturday, May 28, 2016 11:30am
Where: Aki Studio, Daniels Spectrum Building, 585 Dundas St E

Stay tuned for the next instalment of the Advisory Board’s Paprika Festival 2016 Interview Series!