Anna Sahlstrom, playwright of one of the Pulp Diction late night pieces, called The Go Girls, shares how she went from JRR Tolkein spoof to late night pulpy feminine empowerment in just a few simple steps…
Every story for me starts out as a daydream or a passing idea. Some people come to create a framework for an idea for a story and some just sit down and let the muse come to them. I have tried both means of writing and have found that I can’t completely map what I’m going to write. I don’t use outlines or other schematics. I simply imagine the story I want to tell and I go with it.
The Go-Girls began for me as a funny idea for a story while I was at a meeting for the Women’s Ensemble performance group at Loyola Marymount University. We created the group because of the lack of onstage opportunities for women at our school. I thought it would be funny to do a modern, urban spoof of Lord of the Rings with me as the star. The story would change greatly by the time I actually wrote the play, but what remained the same was the desire to have a show with all women and to have a theme of female empowerment. And the comedic aspects would be there as well.
Well, I didn’t think about The Go-Girls until two years after I had graduated. I had been steadily working on establishing my acting career. I continued to study and audition and even did community theatre. However, I was really frustrated and felt that I wasn’t getting anywhere. I had also just gotten a day job after searching for two years. I wanted to create a piece that was fun and with a lead role for me to play. I really needed some inspiration. I went to see X-Men: The Last Stand and it reminded me of when I read the comics and how much I loved the series. The Go-Girls resurfaced in my mind as a feminist super-hero spoof rather than a spoof on JRR Tolkein.
I had never written a full-length play before, but I sat down at my computer and just let the writing come out. It was easier to write than anything I had attempted before. I think it was because I wasn’t forcing myself to please someone else or censoring my writing. I find that I can create much better work when I get out of my own way. The script simply felt right. I spent the next year and a half editing my script, and then I was accepted into the One-Year Acting Program at Drama Studio London. I brought a copy of The Go-Girls with me and imagined doing a staged reading of the play. I was granted that opportunity and I cast a bunch of my new friends and myself in the lead. The reading was so much fun. The audience of ten people couldn’t stop laughing.
With the feedback from the director of the reading, I edited out parts that were either too long or didn’t work. I was considering how to put together a future production, when the opportunity came to have a reading as part of The Pulp Stage’s Pulp Diction late-night reading series for Fertile Ground. I have done further edits, with the advice of my director, to make the play work even better. I am really excited to be sharing my work with the Portland theatre community.
The process of my work is the process of my life. I determine what I want and the let the scenes and the pieces fall into place. And I can never completely plan what will happen.