Arts Commission Fellowship Recipient George Taylor Talks About Playwriting

By James Bash | Monday, March 30, 2009
Arts Commission Fellowship Recipient George Taylor Talks About Playwriting

Several years ago, on the eve of his 50th birthday, George Taylor finished writing his first play and never looked back. Even though Taylor has buried that script at the bottom of his desk drawer, the award-winning playwright is now looking forward to the production of his second effort, Renaissance, has completed a third play and has two more scripts underway.

"In the playwriting profession, I'm a late-bloomer," acknowledges Taylor, "It took me a while to find my voice, and the path isn't always clear. There are lots of false starts with stories, or the characters don't work, or the plot doesn't work, or you lose interest in the story."

With over 30 years of experience as a professional writer that has spanned earlier careers in broadcasting, theater administration, and marketing, Taylor finds himself spending more time writing for the theater, which was always his first love.

"I see the limitations of writing for theater as a terrific challenge," says Taylor. "The story has to take place in a set amount of time, and you have to tell the story primarily through dialogue and what can be shown on stage."

Taylor also enjoys how playwriting combines the solo art of writing with the collaborative aspect of working with directors and actors. Even the audience becomes part of the story, because it is in the same room where the story is being told. As a result, the communal atmosphere causes plays to be revised, and Taylor has found that he can roll with the punches. An early draft of Renaissance made Taylor a semifinalist in the 2006-2007 Julie Harris Playwright Award Competition and in the Next Generation Playwrights contest that was sponsored by New York's Reverie Productions.

Further revisions earned Renaissance its first public reading in Portland in May 2007, and it was selected for a reading at the 4-day Playwrights' Showcase of the Western Region in Denver in July 2007. Now, Taylor's play is a finalist for the 2009 Oregon Book Awards.

Starting with a painting competition that actually took place between Leonardo de Vinci and Michelangelo in the early 1500s, Taylor's Renaissance probes art and politics, power and manipulation, and the emotions like regret and jealousy to make a statement on the human condition.

"There is usually some philosophical content to my work," explains Taylor. "I also like to explore some of the little nooks and crannies of history and see how they relate to something we are going through today. Renaissance isn't a historical play, but it does use historical elements. Half of the play is set 500 years ago and half takes place in today's world."

Taylor eagerly anticipates seeing Renaissance produced by The Continuum Theatre this fall.

"That production is a very complex task," says Taylor. "The fellowship from the OAC is a real help in promoting the play and making the production a reality."

Oregon Arts Commission

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(503) 581-5115 (fax)
775 Summer Street NE, Ste 200
Salem, OR 97301-1280