Charlotte Higgins: Scene Stealer
El Dorado County resident Charlotte Higgins writes and produces award-winning productions. Alabama Bound, which played to sold-out audiences in Sacramento and San Francisco—before moving to the New York International Fringe Festival—was chosen to be part of Indie Theater Now’s “Best of FringeNYC” collection, making it available for schools, universities, actors, directors, and theaters to view, download, and produce. Her play Birmingham Blues finished its local sold-out run last October. “I write mostly about women faced with major life challenges—health, ageism, sexism, classism, and poverty, in ways that reveal their courage, creativity, perseverance, humor, and cunning,” shares Higgins. A member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Playwrights’ Center, and International Center of Women Playwrights, Higgins continues to seek opportunities for her work to be produced by other theaters throughout the country.
HLB: How did you become a playwright?
CH: I started writing and performing monologues with the Writers Who Act Program in San Francisco. I also co-founded the theater company, Reality Check—where I performed our original works throughout the Bay Area—and was an artist-in-residence at Z Space, where I studied with some of the Bay Area’s finest playwrights, actors, directors, and producers. I then went to New York and studied with playwrights and actors there. For the last couple of years, I’ve been working with New York City playwright/teacher Winter Miller in the development of my work.
HLB: What have been your most significant experiences?
CH: Growing up in the South, in the midst of great storytellers and a storytelling tradition, is one of the greatest influences in my life and work. I grew up listening to amazing women, my mother included, tell stories with color, flair, humor, and an impeccable sense of timing. Continuing to work with and be around people who have been my teachers, guides, inspiration, and coaches has kept me going all these years. I seldom lack inspiration; I have more ideas than time, but long walks, being silent, sitting down to work, and being disciplined have really worked for me over the years.
HLB: How is storytelling key?
CH: These are hard times for many people, and there seems to be an urgency in the art world to do our work and get it out—often in less traditional ways. This means shining a light on subjects that many prefer to remain in the darkness. I don’t really know what influence my work can have on anything, but I just sit down and do what I do, which is writing—with as much fearlessness, creativity, and honesty as I can. Ultimately, I’m a storyteller who aims to tell a good story, often having no idea where or how it will land.
HLB: Do you have any advice for aspiring playwrights?
CH: Write, write, write, then write some more. Read lots of plays, go see as many as you can, and analyze what you do or don’t like about them; take classes; hangout and work with people who are better than you, so you’ll become better; make yourself accountable and show up to write, whether you’re inspired to or not; and persevere. Talent is important, but a relatively small part of the deal. southerndiscomfortproductions.com
By Heather L. Becker