The cover of The Age Issue of The Dramatist. An illustration of two sets of hands, one older and one younger, playing piano side by side.
Emerging After 50, Part 1

On August 23, 2016, five Guild members—all over 50—gathered in a teleconference to discuss becoming playwrights later in life. The conversation was led by Amy Crider (Chicago, IL), who wrote her first play at 47. The panel included Nancy Gall-Clayton (Jeffersonville, IN) who wrote her first play at 50, Josh Gershick (Los Angeles, CA) whose first play was written at 41, Bruce Olav Solheim (Glendora, CA) who began his first play at 50, and Tsehaye Geralyn Hébert (Chicago, IL) whose MFA came after AARP.

Clockwise from left: Nancy Gall-Clayton, Josh Gershick, Tsehaye Geralyn Hébert, Bruce Olav Solheim, Amy Crider
Clockwise from left: Nancy Gall-Clayton, Josh Gershick, Tsehaye Geralyn Hébert, Bruce Olav Solheim, Amy Crider. Illustrations by A.E. Kieren.

Amy Crider:  I belong to Chicago Dramatists where I’m a network playwright. And I’ve noticed that many of the network playwrights there are of retirement age. So often we think of a starting-out-playwright as someone who’s just gotten their MFA. So I wanted to talk to some others who, like me, are older starting out, and possibly don’t have an MFA.

Do you feel it’s harder to compete with these young writers who might be fresh out of getting an MFA?

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Amy Crider

won the Tennessee Williams One Act Play Contest in 2021. Her novel Disorder was published by the University of New Orleans Press, where it won their Lab Prize.

Nancy Gall-Clayton
Nancy Gall-Clayton

was a Kentucky Dramatists Guild representative. She’s given up teaching, counseling, lawyering, and food service, but continues to write plays, something she began around her 50th birthday. Warren Hammack and Liz Bussey Fentress of Horse Cave Theatre were important mentors in her salad days. She just received her sixth commission.

Joshua Irving Gershick
Joshua Irving Gershick

s plays include Dear ONE: Love & Longing in Mid-Century Queer AmericaComing Attractions, and Bluebonnet Court. He is the winner of the GLAAD Award for Outstanding Los Angeles Theatre and is a Lambda Literary Award Finalist.

Tsehaye Geralyn Hébert
Tsehaye Geralyn Hébert

is a Baton Rouge, LA native and honorary Atlantan. Sundance Finalist (Tale of the Lychee Woman), Something Marvelous, RhinoFest (pygMALI), Cultural DC SourceFest (Elegy for Miss Lucy), VSC Rising Voices Fellowship (You Are Cordially Invited to Teas, Mrs. B.), is a proud DG and Black Theatre Network member. She sits on the Honorary Board of Piven Theatre Workshop; Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium, and ADA25/Disability+Lead Alum. The C. A. Lyons Project won four of its five Suzy Bass nominations (2015)!

Dr. Bruce Olav Solheim
Dr. Bruce Olav Solheim

was born in Seattle in 1958 and served in the army. A history professor at Citrus College in Glendora, CA, Bruce has written five books and six plays. The Bronze Star won two KCACTF awards in 2013 and The Epiphany opens in Norway in September 2016.