Philip Dawkins Embraces Challenges Of Playwrighting

Jul 12, 2017

"I somehow chose the only profession in the world that has fewer chances of employment than professional wrestler."

Philip Dawkins is a successful Chicago playwright with 22 full productions to his credit. Include his shorter works and that total rises to 40.

Heartland Theater Company welcomes Philip Dawkins for an open forum for aspiring playwrights Thursday night at the theater. Dawkins hopes to share his advice for a life writing for the theater—a life he says for him has been incredibly fortunate. 

"It's about defining what you need, what you want and what are you willing to sacrifice in order to do these things that you want."

"The fact that anybody pays me to do this at all is really pretty singular," admitted Dawkins. "It is such a competitive field that I do feel very lucky that I get to say that this is my job. Creatively, yes, I feel incredibly successful. That said, I think the rubric that most people—very sane people—would call success doesn't apply. In that way, I'm not very successful at all. But I don't know too many playwrights who are."

"It's about defining what you need, what you want and what are you willing to sacrifice in order to do these things that you want. And if there's a good balance between what you're willing to sacrifice and what you must have in your life, then for me, that's the gauge of success. The thing is, it has a lot to do with luck and this is not necessarily a field where if you work hard you will do well. So much of it has to do with being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people."

Dawkins credits Kung Fu with making him a better writer.
Credit Time Out

Dawkins also teaches playwriting, in addition to his work in the theater world. Balancing the two can be tricky, he admitted. As for his writing process, Dawkins said that for him, a story will reveal itself to him how it wants to be written.

"I begin every process differently because every story is different," he said.

To help fuel his creative process, Dawkins likes to be active, often riding his bike around Chicago when he's experiencing writer's block. He also has employed Kung Fu.

"Kung Fu helped me be a better writer. It's an art—a martial art. I practiced the same Kung Fu as Bruce Lee—Jeet Kune Do. That practice is all about the fact that there is no one way. It's about being open to possibilities and getting out of your brain and letting your body be open to whatever device can be used. That's how I arrived at how the story tells you how it wants to be told."

Dawkins is appearing at Heartland Theater at One Normal Plaza on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.

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