Alumna Completes Kennedy Center Playwright Program

Meredith College alumna Kiran Subramaniam, ’11, recently completed a 10-day playwriting intensive at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Subramaniam, who earned degrees in English and theatre, was one of 50 participants. Participants are university students, faculty and emerging professionals from across the country. The program consists of rigorous writing workshops and discussions of the art, craft and business of playwriting with the program's director Gary Garrison, executive director for creative affairs, Dramatists Guild, and a wide range of guest artists.

Meredith Associate Professor of Theatre Steven Roten encouraged Subramaniam to apply for the playwriting intensive, which he had attended in 2010.

“I told myself that if I was serious about my writing and wanted to create the best work I could, I should seize every opportunity and go for it,” Subramaniam said. “This experience exceeded my expectations. I was with a group of people who all had such a deep respect and connection for writing.”

Roten also offered Subramaniam some advice on making the most of this opportunity.

“My playwriting professor and mentor, [Associate Professor] Steven Roten, told me that while I was at the Kennedy Center, I should always be one of the first to share my work, ideas and opinions,” said Subramaniam.

The guest artist list for this year’s playwriting intensive ranged from highly esteemed agents, such as Beth Blickers, to women who are currently leading the playwriting and directing field, including Paula Vogel, Marsha Norman and Evan Yionoulis.

Subramaniam said the best part of this experience was getting to work and share with these faculty members.

“I got to sit in a session with Paula Vogel and read a scene that I had written. I got the chance to listen to some of the new playwrights who are producing work everywhere and hear their stories and learn about how they had gotten to where they are today.”

The sessions were challenging, running from early morning until 10 p.m., along with time spent working on assignments from the program’s faculty.

“Inspiration is everywhere, be it from your group mates, guest artists, or the fact that you are in D.C., so I had to make sure to always make time for my own personal work,” she said.

Subramaniam plans to move to California to pursue writing and acting, a decision that was strengthened by her experience in the Kennedy Center program.

“I want to act and write--the two go hand in hand and I have a passion for both--so I need to be in a setting where I can do so. The up-and-coming playwrights, such as Kristoffer Diaz and Kirsten Greenidge all said the same thing: ‘You never know until you try. Why not now? If this is important to you, you will do whatever you can to create.’”

Subramaniam feels her Meredith education had prepared her well for the playwriting program.

“I majored in both English and theatre, and learned so much from both departments during my time here,” Subramaniam said. “When I told Paula Vogel where I'd gone to school and the work I did in theatre, she said, "How wonderful it is that you've had the chance to do it all with such strong women!" My experience at Meredith gave me a strong sense of self and the confidence that I was intelligent and capable.”

Date Submitted: 2011-08-01

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