Artist Reflections: Gina Montet

Florida playwright Gina Montet will be at cfpa this week for a workshop of her play, “Overactive Letdown.” Here she shares some thoughts about her hopes for the workshop and her writing process.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those solely those of the artist. More about Gina here.


Why did you write this play?

“Overactive Letdown” has developed slowly over the course of 12 years, written here and there on index cards between babies, classes, rehearsals, other scripts, and commutes. It is a story that I needed to tell and my most personal play to date. The initial idea occurred to me days before my second son was born. About to give birth, surrounded by loved ones, I felt invisible. Isolated. Showered with advice on everything from swaddling and baby massage, I became aware that no one addressed the anxiety, frustration and fear that, for me, were unavoidable parts of having a baby. Even more surprising was my own reluctance to talk about it. Like the character in my play, I was frustrated by the numerous films and plays that portrayed motherhood as the be-all and end-all of a woman’s existence – the only key to feminine happiness. I set out to write a play that told the exact opposite story. It’s an all-too-common story: a woman for whom childbirth is the catalyst into depression and anxiety, not fulfillment.  I wanted to bring an audience on a journey with a woman who is drowning alone in inexplicable pain – as some women and some mothers are. I wanted to make a play that could remind us that a mother’s mental and emotional health should be a part of the childbirth discussion. I was driven to make this play an experience that everyone – not just parents– could connect to.

Photo: Mangrove Collective, workshop of “The Prey,” by Gina Montet

On approaching revisions:

I love rewrites! Finishing the first draft is always the biggest challenge for me, finally molding all of the pieces together to make a complete play. I compare it to the first shaping on a potter’s wheel where the ugly lump of clay takes its initial awkward shape. I thoroughly enjoy the stages that come next: scraping away the excess, crafting and sculpting with precision and deliberation. Workshopping and experimenting with scenes, characters and dialogue. Trying new approaches and watching the essence of a play bubble up to the surface and reveal its true self.

On what happens when an audience meets the play:

Audience feedback is an essential and exciting part of the playwriting and revision process for me. I find unending value in engaging with audiences, regardless of the content and tone of the discussion. Hearing from an audience teaches me how the work is being perceived and processed. It’s how I gauge where I’m connecting with people and if I am communicating effectively and clearly.  I need to know if the story they saw was the one I intended to tell.  I am always surprised by the moments an audience will tap into, where they become emotionally invested, and what doesn’t connect. Every piece of information comes together to build a play that is engaging and effective.

Please join us for the public reading of “Overactive Letdown.”
Saturday, March 16th
7-9 pm
All public events at cfpa are Pay What You Can.
Advance reservations are encouraged.

cfpa’s ReClaim series is an assembly space to connect all kinds of audiences, artists, experiences, and stories. Our events explore the vitality and evolution of American identity, and the ways in which creative works reflect our lived experience (or not). Our events grapple with the stories we hear and see, the stories we make and tell, and the ways in which we are (or are not) changed by creative representations of our experiences. We support artists who engage fiercely with the complex and contradictory nature of the human experience. We support audiences who yearn for greater personal engagement between works of art and the daily life of our community. We assemble for lively questions, dynamic conversation, and to encourage new ways of understanding each other’s lives.