Stories in an Isolated Age: Writer Interview

With streaming for Stories in an Isolated Age almost underway, I sat down with two of the writers, Caleb Collier and Mira Kocherhans, to ask about their experience writing for a devised production. Their responses were eye-opening and informative

What expectations did you have coming into the project?

Caleb – “I knew this project would be difficult. We were all in different places trying to improvise a show over a video call. I expected it to be cheesy and I worried we wouldn’t be able to take ourselves seriously. But it turned out that the structure and our willingness to work made us create something that we really loved!”

Mira – “This project was a godsend. With the pandemic, opportunities to participate in any form of theatre have been hard to come by. It has been virtually impossible, but this project has made it "virtually" possible! While I knew it wasn't going to be the same as performing on a stage- that it wasn't going to fulfill me quite as much- I knew that it had the potential to scratch my acting and creativity itches, even slightly. And it did.”


Did you have any previous experience with script writing? How did that affect how you felt about writing for the project?

Caleb – “I have never written a full script before. I had tried writing scenes and ideas, I love writing. But this was my first time getting a full script on the page. I think the biggest reason was because we improvised it as a group, so all of my inspiration and ideas were inspired by the great ideas being offered by my group mates! So I can hardly take credit for writing this, we really all wrote it together.”

Mira – “I entered this process both eager and apprehensive. Writing is a passion of mine, but I do it in other forms, such as in poetry, thought pieces, etc. I hadn't written a script or any monologues before. My writing tends to sound pretty formal and academic, so I was concerned that the dialogue wouldn't sound natural. I definitely leaned into listening to and noting how the other actors talked in regular conversation and in the improv that we did. I then tried to bring that spirit, style, and life into the scripts and monologues that I wrote.”


What was your favorite part of the process?

Caleb – “My favorite part was hearing something I wrote read out loud, then being able to get feedback and look at it and say, ‘maybe this could make it better.’ It was so cool to create something, work it, and then be able to make it even better.”

Mira – “The capabilities of the human mind can never be understated. This process allowed me to witness the range of beliefs and perspectives that different minds can have on the exact same topic. Each of the scripts and monologues are embodiments of the theme of isolation, yet differ in style and form. I've loved stepping onto other people's mental tracks and getting to walk on them enough to observe a different perspective and empathize. This process has also been a testament to how adaptable the mind is and our ability not only to create something out of nothing, but to create something valuable and compelling. We started out with absolutely nothing, but we now have four plays and an array of monologues! From figuring out how to manage scene work over Zoom to finding out fun elements we could add in a virtual environment that we wouldn't necessarily have been able to incorporate in a face-to-face setting, this has been an irreplaceable exercise in creativity.”


What did you find most challenging in writing for the devised piece?

Caleb – “Trying to make it consistent. It meant I had to let go of ideas I loved because they didn’t fit the story, or made it too busy. And it felt like I would regret it to let go of things I loved, but it ended up making it so much more clear and clean. I loved figuring out how to create a piece with a group and have it be consistent and creative and beautiful!”

Mira – “My fear of whether others would like what I wrote was a constant hindrance, in the beginning. After all, whatever I wrote for them is what they would have to say again and again, rehearsal after rehearsal. If they didn't like the dialogue or the content, I felt they'd resent or judge me. But I was the writer, so I had to write. I had to do it while scared. It was a game changer to have the supportive reception of the other actors and our director Laurie. I had more confidence and a lot of pressure was taken off when I saw what brilliant things I could pull from the stories we created through our improv. I didn't have to be an endless well of creativity. I was the writer, but relaxed into being one that had the backing and input of a team. I refined our ideas, filled in the gaps, and put them on paper.”

All of the writers did a phenomenal job with the show and I am so excited to see everything all together, presented to an audience! If there’s a question you’d like to ask a writer, join us for the Thursday streaming of Stories in an Isolated Age and stick around for a post-show discussion with the writers and actors.