Playwright Spotlight: Maggie Lee


Playwright – Residual (Quickies 17, June/July 2015)

BIO: Maggie Lee is a Seattle playwright whose work reflects her love of comedy, adventure, science fiction, and horror. Her plays have been produced by Pork Filled Productions, SPT Youth, The 14/48 Projects, Live Girls! Theater, Bindlestiff Studio, Balagan Theatre, SIS Productions, ReAct, and others. Recently, her steampunk adventure The Tumbleweed Zephyr was nominated for a 2016 Gregory Award for Outstanding New Play, and was featured at the 2016 National Asian American Theater Conference & Festival in Ashland, Oregon. She is a producer with Pork Filled Productions, Artistic Associate with Macha Monkey Productions, and board member with Rain City Projects.

Where did the idea for your play come from?

When I first heard the theme of “Lost and Found,” I immediately decided that I wanted to do a ghost story. I was inspired to make it about the specific phenomenon of residual hauntings from one of my favorite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called “I Only Have Eyes for You” – I think it was my first gateway episode to the Buffy-verse, way back when. I started thinking about what might happen to spirits who are trapped in the same loop over and over, and can never truly be lost or forgotten. And also, what happens to the intrepid ghost-hunters who try to find them?

What was your favorite moment in working on this piece?

At the first rehearsal, Linnea (the director) had the actors do a wordless movement exercise to music, exploring the relationships between the characters. It was so beautiful and heartbreaking and magically organic, that I said, “How about we forget the script and just do this instead?”

What’s the most interesting thing you have found on the street?

I live on Capitol Hill, so you probably don’t want to know.

If you could instantly find something today that you have lost in the past, what would it be?

When I was in high school, us theater kids used to write quotes from our rehearsals and shows up on the wall in the booth storage room. I think they have since demolished the old theater and built a nicer new one, but I sure would get a kick out of seeing that old wall again.

What projects are you currently working on?

Right now, my short play “The Blindman’s Daughter” is part of the LAAFF Fest (Lotsa Asian American Fractured Fairytales) with SIS Productions, which runs June 17-25 at Youth Theatre Northwest and 18th & Union. And I have a new original family holiday show premiering this year at Seattle Public Theater called “The Flight Before Xmas,” which runs December 1-24. I’m right in the middle of writing that now, which is weird for me to have to think about the holidays in the middle of summer!

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!

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 your favorite and least favorite word?

I have been noticing lately that there are specific words that I keep using in my plays that no one actually says in real life, and one of the most frequent ones is “rigmarole.” My least favorite word is “obligation.”

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

I’m really into embracing self-care these days. I just had a one of those big momentous-occasion birthdays this year, which made me realize that it’s okay to slow down a little and consciously make time to take care of your body/mind/feelings. I know that sounds completely obvious, but it was honestly like a huge “ah ha!” moment for me. Also, I am STILL trying to finish Fallout 3 so I can finally upgrade to the PS4.

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

This is my third time around with Quickies, and I just want to say a huge squishy thank you to Live Girls! for always supporting my work and helping me find my weird, creepy, fantastical voice as a playwright. Come get Lost and Found with us!