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Home » Margaret Baldwin: The Power of Dialogue at TEDxAtlanta (Full Transcript)

Margaret Baldwin: The Power of Dialogue at TEDxAtlanta (Full Transcript)

Margaret Baldwin – TRANSCRIPT

I am Margaret Baldwin. Ooh that’s loud! Got it? I am Margaret Baldwin and I am a playwright and I’m thrilled to be here today. I’m going to talk to you a little bit about what it means to write a play. So I’m going to tell you a story to do that.

The story is, it’s about June 2006, and Lisa Adler the Co-Artistic/Producing Director of Horizon Theatre in Atlanta, she calls me up and says, “So Margaret, what do you want to write next?” I spelt that wrong on purpose. [What do you want to wright?] Because plays are not written – they are wrought, the way ships are wrought and boats are wrought and iron is wrought. And you’re not a solo creator in the process. There are many, many people who have a hand in the making of your play. There are directors, producers, there are actors, designers, there are stage managers, and most importantly there’s you, the audience. Because a play is not complete until it’s given to an audience. I can’t hand you my script and say, “Here’s my play.” It doesn’t exist. The play exists somewhere in between us in a shared space and that’s part of what makes playwriting unique.

So, Lisa says, “What do you want to write next?” And this is a real gift as a playwright, to be given a choice to be able to say, “Yes, I’ve got something to write,” and people to support it. And I wanted to write about my family, my mother’s family from Selma, Alabama. My mom’s that cute blonde in front. And… I wanted to write in particular a story about my grandmother and a woman, an African-American woman named Matilda Martin, who worked for my grandmother as a housekeeper for over 25 years and who later became a nurse and nursed my grandmother through her death. And their relationship was very important to me as I grew up going to Selma on holidays and Christmas. I thought Santa Claus lived in Selma and this relationship was something that I thought: “If I can capture this, this will make me a real writer.”

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