Getting to Know RNPF Playwrights: Derick Edgren

Derick Edgren Headshot

Rockford New Play Festival: Hi, Derick! Congrats on being one of two 18 and under playwrights selected for the Festival. So, where are you from and where do you live now? 

Derick Edgren: This festival has actually determined my location for the past two weeks! I am a Rockford native; however, my family just moved to Fort Collins, Colorado. I will be joining them for the next week or so (leaving the morning after the festival) until I move into my dorm at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Weren’t it for the festival, I would have gone with my family the second of August. So you could say I’m on a mission to successfully straddle the continental United States. I’ll let you know how that goes.

 RNPF: Thanks for sticking around! Would you tell us how you came up with the idea for Earth from the Moon
Derick: It was a full moon and I was feeling stressed over something I can’t remember. But whenever that happens I like to try to make my life sound as interesting as possible on paper. Something about that soothes me, to write it down. So I felt as though the weight of the sky was upon me, that the open air was somehow thick and suddenly pressurized. “The sky is heavy,” I thought. Graduating high school, although a great relief, has made me realize how a new freedom can often feel crippling at first, and what motif, I thought, could better illustrate that frustration we all share when facing too many decisions at once than that of the stars and the moon and the sky? And as for the characters’ relationships, I’ve always felt that sibling rivalry has a definite and unique pull that can become many things. When you make characters related something has to happen, a definite risk unfolds. I love that about the family dynamic: it’s always a constant.
RNPF: Is there a particular playwright, author and/or other artist that you consider a hero or major influence of your own work?
Derick: Ever since a friend recommended her book Americanah a few months ago, I have been hooked on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I aspire to become half the storyteller she is. I actually just wrote an article about her for the magazine I work for. Her Facebook page even shared it! The page is run through her publisher, but wouldn’t it be amazing if she ever read it?
RPPF: What appeals to you about writing for the stage vs. other forms of dramatic storytelling?
Derick: The stage presents a middle ground for the distant but thoughtful medium of literature and the colorful but quick medium of film. Theatre has an advantage over other forms of storytelling because it contains elements that no other form could claim. A set location (a stage) may seem at first limiting, but once you pass that initial restriction, you realize anything is possible. People who come to see shows do not need to be tricked; they are, for the most part, willing to believe. If a black box wants to be a king’s throne, that’s what it is.
RNPF: What’s next for you? Any projects you’re currently working on or plans for the near future? 
Derick: I’m very excited to study playwriting in college and I would love to write a short bilingual play. I have family who speak more Spanish than English and I would love to see my grandmother react to something of mine that is not foreign to her, that feels like home. She speaks little English. Not just becoming fluent in Spanish but turning into a form of expression really excites me as a potential project. And I would aim to write about family. Adichie has taught me so much about what I believe of the past and the people who walked the Earth before me. I think history is poetic, and I want to understand mine better.
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