James Ryan Caldwell
Chair, National Playwriting Program
1. I grew up gay and catholic in rural Indiana. I’m thankful my mom introduced me to the theatre; it was the only place I fit. 2. I was diagnosed with ADHD in High School. It can make writing plays extremely difficult. Personal statements too. 3. I played Jesus in Godspell my junior year. I thought that because I was trying so hard to be like Him, God might turn me straight. 4. Theatre actually made me gayer. 5. Reading Cloud 9 in college had a profound impact. I learned theatre could be entertaining and radical at the same time. 6. I dropped out. Want to know the reasons? Ask me in person. By the way, there’s no one right way to do anything. 7. Second try at undergrad I trained in the Suzuki Method. This was another theatrical revelation. It taught me to love theatre in a deeper, more disciplined way. 8. In 2009 I decided to be a playwright. Just like that I switched gears (remember ADHD?). 9. I think writing plays is like sky-diving or bungee jumping (I’ve never done either). It’s scary, but if you stand there thinking about it, it just gets scarier. Jump. 10. I love theatre because I’ll never master it. I’ll always have questions and make mistakes. Why have a job you can master? After you master it, what do you do with the rest of your time?

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Manhattan College