How are a poem and a play similar? A visit from author Kate Coombs

by Spencer Duncan, dramaturg

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Center, with book: author Kate Coombs. Top row, L to R: actors Danny Brown, Michael Comp, Arianna Krenk, Haley Flanders; director Teresa Dayley Love Bottom Row, L to R: dramaturg Spencer Duncan; actors Oksana Poliakova, Sierra Docken, Logan Ruesch; stage manager Britney Miles Smith.

Water Sings Blue‘s author Kate Coombs made a surprise visit to the actors! She signed books, read her poetry, and discussed what poems and plays have in common.

Here are a few of our favorite from Kate’s visit:

“[Screenplays and stage plays have] a tight format…that’s true of a poem…dialogue has to be condensed. It has less rambling around.”

“You have to make it sound natural. You have to work to make it seem like you’re not working… that’s true of acting…and poetry has the same challenge.”

“A poem has to have narrative qualities…poems generally build…often the last line and the last phrase really slams it…I think in a play, you come to certain points in scenes, right, where you’re like that….BAM, I just punched you in the gut as my audience.”

“Like a play, a poem must hold auditions. Words have to audition to be worthy to be in a poem…you cannot afford to waste a word.”

After Kate left, director Teresa Dayley Love drew her actors’ attention to one particular phrase Kate said:

“A poem is an encapsulation of wonder. It’s also an encapsulation of story and life.”

Perhaps, if plays can live up to that Pinterest-worthy quote, they’re in good shape.

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