A Conversation with LETTERS TO KAMALA Playwright Rachel Lynett

A Conversation with LETTERS TO KAMALA Playwright Rachel Lynett

Rachel Lynett is a prolific playwright, often writing ten plays a year with multiple plays being workshopped in different theatres at the same time.  Although LETTERS TO KAMALA will be her WAM debut, local audience members might recognize her name from her play WELL INTENTIONED WHITE PEOPLE (premiered at Barrington Stage in 2018) or HERE BE DRAGONS (Capital Rep 2019).  Her other workshopped works include: GOOD BAD PEOPLE, HE DID IT, YOU WERE MINE, LAST NIGHT, ADORED YOU, and APOLOGIES TO LORRAINE HANSBERRY (YOU TOO AUGUST WILSON).

How do you describe the plays that you write or what draws you to a story?

I write plays about complicated, complex women of color. These women are neither saints or villains; they’re eternally both. These women are intelligent, blistered, and, most importantly, real. As these women navigate through the American landscape with a series of different issues, they all also struggle with the complicated idea of what it means to be a woman today and the layered complexity that adds to their various dilemmas. I use my plays to invite the audience into my world using humor and creating a recognizable world. We sit together, we drink together, and we live in these spaces together. My work challenges what about these spaces we can accept and what absolutely much change so that “the room where it happens” can be increasingly more inclusive.

How does LETTERS TO KAMALA fit into this mission?  What inspired the play?

When it became clear that Kamala Harris would be the VP pick for Biden, I had really complicated feelings. As a multi-ethnic Black woman, I felt a lot of pride and I felt seen in a lot of ways. But as a queer person who has a complicated relationship with the police, I wasn’t sure the best pick for a centrist would be a former DA. I wanted to write a play that explored pride mixed in with caution, a play that questioned our cultural obsession with firsts but also made room for understanding the weight that being “first” carries. Who were the other firsts? What sacrifices did they have to make to get there and what can we ultimately never compromise on? 

What are you currently working on?  What can we look forward to?

Right now, I’ve been working on adapting all of Shakespeare’s comedies, a project I’ve been calling Laughing with Shakespeare. For me, I never felt like Shakespeare’s work was inclusive on purpose and I kept feeling like I was missing the joke. I’ve felt like academic and directors have had to bend over backwards to make it inclusive and as an actor, the roles still didn’t fit right. In my mind, if we have to keep doing Shakespeare, we might as well adapt the plays in a way that is not harmful to marginalized communities. I’ve adapted Midsummer and called it Yuppie Clusterf*ck and As You Like It renaming it As You Are. Right now, I’m working on a play called Dear Helena that’s an adaptation of All’s Well That Ends Well.

Find out more about Rachel and her work here

Tickets for WAM Theatre’s reading of LETTERS TO KAMALA can be purchased here