TAD Alum’s Work Featured in Southern Rep Theatre’s THE POP-UP

Emma Schillage, Loyola theatre grad class of 2019, has had three works produced with Southern Rep Theatre’s (SRT) monthly theatre live-stream of ten minute plays, THE POP-UP. Each work has been crafted around a specific theme announced by SRT just a few days before the play deadline. So far, Schillage has had DREAMS TAKE PLACE IN OUTER SPACE, THE PURGATORY FOR WOMEN WHO COMMIT SUICIDE, and OIL BURNS AND THE ESCAPE TO WILLOWSBY FOREST produced by SRT. 

“I like weird and highly specific titles,” she said. 

DREAMS TAKE PLACE IN OUTER SPACE was featured in SRT’s first THE POP-UP. Schillage said she submitted to get the chance to work with other artists and have her work read aloud which is very important to a playwright.

Playwriting is not new for Schillage. In her senior year at Loyola in 2019, she staged a reading of her play, La Famiglia é Tutto, for her senior project. She is currently in her first year of the MFA Playwriting program at Columbia University. 

Although there is a quick turnaround between when SRT announces THE POP-UP’s theme and the deadline for plays, Schillage says grad school has prepared her for this. She said each week they are turning out ten to twenty pages, which has helped her tune into what stories are important for her to tell. 

“It’s just a matter of trusting your instincts,” she said. 

The rehearsal process for THE POP-UP is even shorter, only about two days. Despite how short this period is, Schillage said everyone involved is willing to jump right in and get to work on the pieces. 

“Everyone works so hard and is committed to creating something special,” she said. 

Schillage said she’s only just now getting to explore what it means to be a playwright and having her works produced is both thrilling and nerve-racking. 

“You learn so much from it, and you learn to adapt in so many creative ways,” she said. 

Schillage said, although she never expected to end up playwriting, she’s thankful for it, especially now that it’s given her the opportunity to create and have her works produced during a pandemic. She started out as an actor and advises young artists to be like her and expand their theatrical horizons beyond performance. 

“Be multidisciplinary! Try new things! Find out what else you are good at!” she said.