Playwright Spotlight: Maggie Lee

Author RESIDUAL (2016 Cupcake Spring Readings– Shorts Nights!)


Where did the idea for your play come from?

I felt like writing another horror play, and the theme “Lost and Found” made me think of ghosts. There’s this specific kind of haunting called a residual haunting, where a past event is replayed over and over. But the haunting can’t be communicated with or changed in any way, it’s just like a movie on a screen. I started thinking about how it might feel being trapped in a time loop like that, forced to replay the same moments over and over forever, and it brought about a creepy little story.   

What was your favorite moment in working on this piece?

I had a lot of fun researching the different kind of hauntings. I also learned there was an old BBC horror movie from 1972 called “The Stone Tape” that popularized the residual haunting theory, and now I really want to watch it!

What projects are you currently working on?

My new play A Hand of Talons is being produced by Pork Filled Productions this spring, and we open at Theatre Off Jackson on April 29. It’s a dark and sexy crime family story set in the steampunk world of New Providence.

Finish this sentence- “I love theater that…”

…is fun! Just because it’s fun doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s frivolous. A play can be entertaining and still have good storytelling with thoughtful ideas and complex characters. It’s okay to have a good time at the theater!

Who is your current artist crush (any discipline)?

I have a little crush on the Seattle Public Theater Youth Program. They are an awesome organization that has been really great about reaching out to local playwrights to commission new work. This winter, I got a chance to write a play for one of their high school sessions, and it was so inspiring to see how the young actors were so passionate and committed to their craft.

What was the best advice you were given as a theater artist?

My wise college lighting design teacher used to say: Never say no right away, even if you are being asked for something completely insane. Instead, say, “Let’s try it and see what happens,” and then actually try. It might work! Or else, then you have concrete proof that it doesn’t work, and no one can give you crap for not trying.

What is the one thing you know as an artist now that you wish you could tell your younger self?

Be kind to yourself. Also, maybe you shouldn’t drink quite so many Diet Cokes.

Outside of theater, what are you really into right now?

I’ve been really into space opera TV shows lately, and it’s been inspiring me to write a new science fiction play. My favorite show at the moment is Killjoys, because space bounty hunters are super awesome, and also Aaron Ashmore is adorable.

What is your favorite and least favorite word?

Well, it’s Girl Scout cookie season, so right now my favorite word is “Samoas” (just because “Thin Mints” is two words). My least favorite word is “obligation.”

Any other thoughts you’d like to share? (About Live Girls! Theater, Love, Life, Puppies, …really – anything at all?)

If anyone out there has a copy of “The Stone Tape” that they could lend me, let me know! I still have a VCR!



Maggie Lee is a Seattle playwright whose work reflects her love of comedy, science fiction, and horror; her produced plays include The Tumbleweed Zephyr and The Clockwork Professor (Pork Filled Productions), The Echo Maiden (Seattle Public Theater Youth Program), The Journey of the Bell (The 14/48 Projects), The Sunshower Bride and Paper and Ink (Live Girls! Theater), Last Light(Playing in Progress), the Revealed! walking tours (SIS Productions), collaborating on Greetings from Styx and King Arthur and the Knights of the Playground (Balagan Theatre), Kindred Spirits(ReAct Theatre), H.P. Lovecraft adaptations (Open Circle Theater), the Double Shot Theatre Festival, and 14/48. Maggie is also the lead sketch writer and a performer with the Pork Filled Players, Seattle’s Asian American sketch comedy group, as well as designing lights, props, and puppets for many local fringe theaters. She was a panelist for Asian American Women in Comedy at the 2011 National Asian American Theater Conference in Los Angeles, and was twice featured at ACT’s Local Writers Showcase at the REPRESENT! Multicultural Playwrights’ Festival. She is a member of the SIS Writers Group, Rain City Projects, the Sandbox Artists Collective, and was recently an Artist in Residence at Theatre Off Jackson.