Natalie Symons

Natalie Symons’ plays have been developed and produced at freeFall Theatre, ACT, Aurora Theatre, American Stage, New American Theatre, Theater Schmeater, Florida Studio Theatre, Bridge Street Theatre, Theatre22, Amas Musical Theatre, New Century Theatre, and Urbanite Theatre.

Awards/recognitions: Lark Eden: Suzi Bass nomination, Creative Loafing Readers’ Choice ‘Best Playwright.’ The Buffalo Kings: 8 Theatre Tampa Bay Award nominations including ‘Outstanding Play,’ Broadway World Award ‘Best Play,’ Creative Loafing Critics’ Choice Award ‘Best Playwright,’ Naming True: ACT/Theatre22 The Construction Zone New Works Festival, Recipient of Palm Beach Dramaworks’ Dramaworkshop Prize, Bridge Initiative Women in Theatre Playwright of the Year Award finalist, Ashland New Play Festival finalist, Hope and Optimism (University of Notre Dame and Cornell University) finalist.

Natalie’s commissioned play Schooney’s Home for Girls and John, inspired by the book Strong is the New Pretty by Kate T. Parker, will premier at Florida Studio Theatre this spring. Natalie will be the Playwright in Residence for the 2018/19 season at American Stage. She is the author of the upcoming novel Call Her Frank, a literary mystery set in a forgotten steel town in Pennsylvania. Natalie has a degree in human services and drama therapy, and studied theatre at Boston University.


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I Write to Feel Right

I Write to Feel Right

I’ve been an actor most of my life. It wasn’t until later in life that I started writing fiction and plays. Whether I’m on stage telling someone else’s story or at my desk writing my own, I’m happiest when I’m story-telling. Or rather, I feel most myself when I’m part of a made-up story.

Odd right?

Because that’s when I’m furthest from myself – living in, sometimes lost in the make believe worlds of my characters. Maybe it’s my escape. Or my coping mechanism. Or my attempt to heal and forgive and be at peace in a world that often makes me sad.

I don’t work as an actress much anymore. Partly, because someone has to grant me permission to act. In other words someone has to cast me. And life is short, I don’t have time to wait around to do what I love – tell stories.  But I can always write!

So I do. I write often. And when I haven’t written for a full 24 hours I start to get anxious, antsy, something doesn’t feel right. So I write fiction. I write to get my head straight. I write to make sense of the world – the real world. I write to drown out the noise.

I write to feel right.


Leap of Faith

Leap of Faith

About a year and half ago I was having coffee with Daniel Kelly, the director of my new play that was set to world-premiere at Urbanite in Sarasota. We started talking about the commitment that new work takes from actors and designers vs. the commitment of doing tried and true plays. There is an enormous leap of faith that is required to invest in new work.  That is not to say that this doesn’t happen when working on already-produced plays. But new work requires belief in the unknown.

Let’s look for a moment at a play that has had one or more productions – which are what make up the seasons of most theatres. That play has a track record, a reference point. To use the analogy of an explorer – think of plays that have had one or more productions as terrain that has been explored and therefore it is safe, or rather safer territory.

However, new plays are essentially new frontiers of uncharted, unexplored, undeveloped land.

Given the amount of money and resources that a theatre must invest in a production it’s easy to see why artistic directors are cautious about committing to new work. There is a financial risk for putting a new play in a season.

But beyond this there is the time and energy investment that goes into developing new work. Unless the play has had extensive workshop development, the first production is where the playwright works out the kinks and figures out the timing. Films are polished and shaped in the editing room. Plays are polished and shaped in the first production.

Next week I start developing my newest play at American Stage. So to all of my collaborators past and near future: thank you for your fearless commitment to new work. Thank you for your leap of faith.


The Agony of the Untold Story

The Agony of the Untold Story

Maya Angelou said: “There is no greater agony than bearing the untold story inside you.”

For me, the reason I write is because of that agony that Maya Angelou spoke of.  That torment of “bearing the untold story” is so undeniable that I have no choice but to write. Otherwise I’d give up.

I can’t tell you the amount of times that those voices get in my writer head telling me: “This is terrible.” “I’m no good.” “No one will like this.” “I’m unworthy.” “Don’t quit your day job.” “This is a waste of time.”

And then there’s all the times that I’ve felt the sting of being told been told NO. The times my stories have been rejected. That is the reality for a writer. And if I lived in that reality I would have given up on writing years ago.

I believe that in order to continue to write there is probably something fueling most writers that squelches the thoughts of “this is terrible writing, I’m no good, who am I fooling.”  There must be something greater than us, that is undeniable. That is as Maya Angelou said “agonizing.”

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