Playwright Spotlight: Holly Butterfield

Author, A Plot in the Dark, Cupcake Reading Series [March 2013]
Holly Butterfield is a senior at Nathan Hale High School, where she writes for the school newspaper. This is her second year participating in the after school Young Playwrights Program at ACT Theatre. As well as a writer, Holly is an artist, reader, traveler, and movie lover.

Where did the idea for A Plot in the Dark come from?
I watch a lot of British detective shows – Foyle’s War, Inspector Lewis, etc. – and my family’s pretty into murder mysteries. I was sitting in a coffee shop when it struck me how funny a parody of a typical, Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery would be, and I started writing and I then suddenly realized I was writing from the murderer’s perspective. And it had begun….

Also I promise I’m not a serial killer.

What was your favorite moment in working on this piece?
Probably when we did the first reading in my YPP class. The readers didn’t realize that it was supposed to be a comedy, and read it perfectly straight. No one laughed. It was a bit mortifying, but also funny. It also signified what an important role the actor plays in how your writing is realized.

What projects are you currently working on?
Much of my time lately has been devoted to figuring where I’m going to college next year, but otherwise I’m taking an art class, trying to keep writing a habit, listening to good music, watching good movies, reading good books, seeing good theater. Nothing very groundbreaking right now.

Finish the sentence- “I love theater that…”
gets you invested in the story.

Who is your current artist crush (any discipline)?
It’s a tie between illustrator Shaun Tan and the band Little Dragon.

What was the best advice you were even given as a theater artist?
Have friends read your work out loud before you determine its worth.

What is the one thing you know as an artist now that you wish you could tell your younger self?
“If given the choice between talent and discipline, choose discipline.” An art teacher told me that. If I hadn’t had that advice, I probably wouldn’t have tried playwriting. It’s definitely a doctrine I want to be a part of my life because lack of motivation is an obstacle I encounter in my work. But I’m trying to change that.


Outside of theater, what are you really into right now?
Art! Art is one of my biggest passions – right now I’m taking a gouache painting class, but I’d love to get back into oil painting when I have the time.

What is your favorite and least favorite word?
Bicuspid, grody.