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Interview: Donna Hoke

August 10, 2012

Playwright: Donna Hoke

Hometown: Cheektowaga, N.Y.

Place of Residence: East Amherst, N.Y.

Education: BS in speech pathology/audiology in 1985 and BA in English in 1986, SUNY Fredonia

Website: http://www.donnahoke.com

Selected Titles: The Couple Next Door, Write This Way, Greater Good, Hard Cell, and Life Lines

What’s a four-letter word for a Buffalo-area playwright?  Hoke.  Donna Hoke, that is. For more than 25 years, Hoke has been a magazine journalist and editor.  She also has created crossword puzzles for publications like the New York Times and Soap Opera Digest.

Hoke’s foray into playwriting began in 2007 when she joined the Emanuel Fried New Play Workshop, a development program for local playwrights in Buffalo, N.Y.  She had been a subscriber at the host theater and decided to apply to the workshop when it was offered.  That decision led to a continuing working relationship.

“The following year, I was accepted into the workshop again, and the sponsoring theater, Road Less Traveled Productions, produced The Couple Next Door’s world premiere,” Hoke says.  “I’ve been writing steadily ever since and am now an Ensemble Member at Road Less Traveled and have been produced in four other theaters in Buffalo, as well as theaters across the country, and even internationally.  The Couple Next Door is currently being translated into Turkish!”

Hoke’s work is more realistic and relationship- and character-oriented.  “I try to focus on how people feel when confronted with difficult situations and how those feelings make them act.  And I try to find the humor in everyday life,” she says.  “People have said things to me like, ‘When I see a Donna Hoke play, I know I’m going to laugh but I also know I’m going to leave thinking.’ I really like that description, because that’s what I like to see in theater so I’m happy if I’m delivering it as well.”

The playwright is the Dramatists Guild of America’s western New York representative, and she is a member of the International Center for Women Playwrights and Chicago Dramatists.

In addition to being a journalist and dramatist, Hoke writes poetry and has written a children’s book called Neko and the Twiggets.  Writing in multiple genres interconnects.  “Writing for magazines teaches me how to be precise with what I want to say and how to write, even when I don’t want to.  Poetry teaches me to use language differently.”

She only wishes she would’ve started writing plays sooner.

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This profile is an excerpt of an article that appeared in the August 2012 issue of InSight for Playwrights. Visit http://www.insightforplaywrights.com for information.

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Sandra Hosking, M.F.A., is a Spokane-area journalist and teacher. She is editor of InSight for Playwrights, a national publication, and Co-playwright-in-residence at Spokane Civic Theatre.

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