Meet the Playwright: Merridawn Duckler

In this weeklong series, we’re introducing our fabulous playwrights with work in the 26th Playwrights’ Forum Festival at Spokane Civic Theatre. We asked each of our playwrights a few questions about themselves and their entries, so you’ll know a bit about them before you see their works Friday and Saturday!

We get to present our first playwright of this series to you today!

Introducing: Merridawn Duckler

Merridawn   Name: Merridawn Duckler

   Lives in: Portland, Oregon

   Playwright of: Fresh Hell

   Current occupation: Teaches writing


Did you go to school to learn how to be a playwright?
If so: where? If not: how did you learn?

I went to Reed College and wrote an undergraduate thesis of original poems; I have an MAJS in theology. How did I learn? School of Hard Knocks, with an advanced degree in Knock ‘Em Out.

What is Fresh Hell about?

It’s set in the Talent Department of Hell (And yes, Hell has a Talent Department—can’t you think of quite a few people who might be on their roster?).

King Charge manages the place—he’s literally the boss from hell—and poor Gnash serves under him. Gnash has conceived of an American Idol style competition to find a “brand ambassador” for their devilry. He’s invited the super talented and innocent young winner, Babe, to come on down. She can’t wait! But she also can’t sign the contract, since she’s a minor. Instead the signer has to be Babe’s mother, Mrs. Abraham, who has other wishes for her daughter than to serve as celebrity spokesperson to the The Under Lord. Also, they’re Jewish, and don’t really believe in hell—so maybe the whole thing is just a silly little mistake?

What inspired you to write this piece?

Bosses from hell, the idea of the anti-stage mother, American-style competition, Martin Buber and the critique of theological stances on the nature of good and evil, a sense that we are all pretty lucky to have survived our teens.

Are you going to be in the audience this weekend?

Oh yeah.

Anything interesting about yourself, your play, or your experience that you’d like to share?

My mother was an actress. They were strapping her into her corset for the Christmas show when the costumer commented that she seemed to have put on a little weight. I was born in March. If I’d arrived a bit earlier I could have been in the cast of “Nude With Violin.” I’ve been racing to catch up ever since.

Fresh Hell is one of six one-act plays showing at the sold out Playwrights’ Forum Festival this year – and one of five competition pieces. Each of the five pieces will be competing to win the Adjudicator’s Choice Award, and an Audience Choice Award.