Big Brain Awards

Big Brain Update: Phoenix Playwright Kim Porter

Leading up to this year's Big Brain Awards, we're checking in with past winners. Up today: Kim Porter.

Kim Porter wants to do something new this year.

The playwright is planning to push her story about strangers trying to not fall for each other, The Condom, to the max. Maybe it'll be a movie. Maybe a novel. Mostly though, Porter wants to see how far she can take it. That's what the writer said when we caught up with her via e-mail. Well that, and how jazzed she is on Arizona's growing storytelling scene.

See also: Announcing the 2014 Big Brain Finalists

What have you been up to since winning a Big Brain Award? I've finished another couple screenplays, one of which, The Condom I was offered an option on (which I -- probably foolishly -- declined).

I've continued to run the solo play development workshop at Space 55, which brings me great joy. One of my students, Pina, is this close to finishing her full-length solo play Pinhead Number One. I am sharing in her vicarious thrill.

I've been focusing on developing my personal stories this year. I performed at the AZ Republic Storytelling Event and have done several readings for Chow Bella down at the Crescent Ballroom. Last year I performed in the Most of Lit Lounge at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, which was an amazing experience. And I'm absolutely thrilled to say I've been invited back this year. Nothing compares to being in a sold-out, 800-seat house, sharing the stage with so many writer/performers and musicians. I felt like a rock star. Highlight of my life. Can't wait to do it again. God bless Tania Katan.

What's your next big project? I am in the process of converting my screenplay The Condom into a novel. The Condom follows the story of two promiscuous strangers, who over the course of one night, struggle not to fall in love, when they are forced to talk instead of screw because they can't find a condom. I've never written a novel and I'm finding it's a joy to use tools novelists get to use that are forbidden to playwrights and screenwriters -- inner monologue, figurative language, third-person omniscience. It remains to be seen if this 18,000 word screenplay can ever reach the 50,000 word-count needed to be categorized as a novel. I'm at 25,000 words right now and the conversion is about 60 percent completed. Fingers crossed. This story is my favorite piece, and my heart breaks that it hasn't reached an audience.

Where do you see Phoenix a year from now? There's a rapidly growing storytelling community in Phoenix. Many organizations run weekly and monthly ongoing storytelling series -- New Times, AZ Republic, SMoCA -- and there are lot of smaller ones cropping up all the time. Like Yarnball at Lawn Gnome Publishing, and Dan Hull's new series, Storyline, at Space 55, and Brandon Ferderer's The Encyclopedia Show in Tempe. And of course, Space 55 continues to run A Bitch in Time, twice a year, which features female writer/performers. And Liz Warren is down at South Mountain running a really gang-buster storytelling program. It's a good time to be a storyteller in Arizona. I predict we might become a stop along-the-way for storytellers from out-of-town. And, of course, I love to see people empowered to add their stories to the conversation.

Where do you see yourself a year from now? I'd like to see a film optioned or a novel sold this year. For most of my life as a writer, I've finished works, and then immediately moved on. It's been good for skill building, but lousy for my wallet. I have a trail of completed projects behind me that have not reached their audience yet, because I'm too attracted to writing the next story, and too turned-off by self-promotion. I hope to get over myself this year and sell something already.

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski