A visit with Laura Lundgren Smith
Sulphur Springs native shares thoughts on writing and the stage
By TERRY MATHEWS | News-Telegram Arts Editor
Nov 8, 2007 - Sulphur Springs native Laura Lundgren Smith is an accomplished playwright. Her 2007 play “Seamless” was chosen from over 350 other scripts to be featured in Dallas’ Kitchen Dog Theatre’s prestigious New Works Festival. A staged reading of “Seamless” was presented at the theatre on July 1, featuring professional actors and directed by Kitchen Dog emeritus Tim Johnson.
Since Kitchen Dog is part of the National New Play Network, Smith’s script is now available to member theatres nationwide, including those in Washington, D.C, and San Francisco.
�Diggin Up the Boys,� her drama about three trapped coal miners, opened last Thursday at TAMU-Commerce for a two-week run.
A 1986 Sulphur Springs High School graduate and the daughter of Delores McMahan Lundgren and the late Bennie D. Lundgren, Smith took time from her writing schedule to answer some questions about “Digging Up the Boys” and the creative process.
News Telegram: How did you come to write about coal miners?
Laura Lundgren Smith: You might find it odd, but the title of the play came to me first. I was writing things down on a piece of paper, trying to get in a creative frame of mind to work. Once those four words were on the page, I knew I had to do something with them, though at the time I had no idea what that would be.
NT: Tell me about the writing process.
LLS: I have to be alone. I listen to music. Sometimes I may sit for an hour without writing a word. I don’t work from a story outline, something many writers would find heretical. My plot structures are very vague at the outset. At the risk of sounding a bit of a lunatic, once I have characters in mind, I just listen to them.
NT: Did you ever think you’d be a published playwright?
LLS: As a freshman in high school, I went to see Nathan Wilson in “O Dammit!” at the Performing Arts Center in Commerce. Somehow I ended up sitting right behind the playwright, Jerry Flemmons. I had no idea who he was until he was recognized by the cast and stood up. I remember thinking that someday I’d like to do that. So, I suppose I’ve come full circle, which is lovely.
NT: How does it feel to see your work on stage?
LLS: After a show, someone always asks me, “Is that how you saw it in your head?” The thing about playwriting that is so marvelous is that each production of your work is unique. In the end, some things may be different than I imagined them while writing, but often they are done in a way that trumps my own idea! To me each production is a gift I get to open. Theatre is wonderful because it is malleable, and I never want to be the type of playwright who dictates to a director. I enjoy the surprise of each person’s creativity.
NT: What are you working on now?
LLS: My most recent play, “Seamless,” was recently chosen by Dallas’ famed Kitchen Dog Theatre to be part of its New Works Festival, a showcase for up-and-coming new playwrights. It was chosen from among 350 entries from around the world. Right now I’m making some minor changes to it and getting it ready for some other theatres to look at for production, such as Theatre Tuscaloosa in Alabama. I’m also planning on starting to work on a new play soon.