Star Gazing with Playwright Lisa Schlesinger ~ View From The Keyboard

Lisa Schlesinger is an award-winning playwright and faculty member of Columbia College Chicago where she coordinates the interdisciplinary Playwriting Major. She has traveled extensively, working with a number of national and international theatre companies. The breadth of her interests is evident in the variety of works she writes; among these pieces is Celestial Bodies, an excerpt of which is posted below.

Lisa: I am a kitchen table writer. I always have been. I often lived in tiny places with room for one table. When my kids were young, I would write when they were napping or asleep. I keep note cards so I know what I have done and what I still need to do. I lay them out on the table when I am working and stack them up when we use the table for other things.  I write like I cook. Some processes are slow, they need “rise” time and some projects I write on all day everyday  until I have a draft. I write where I fold the laundry, eat breakfast, and knead dough.  Now my daughter works here too. This table was built by Sam Mulgrew and the folks at Trappist Caskets at the New Mellarey Abbey; they harvest wood from old growth forest. It was a barter (editing for table). It’s made from two boards cut from a walnut tree–it must have been huge. If you look closely you can see the grain  like open sandwich bread. It’s great to write on–it’s full of history and life. In the background is my trusty companion, Django, behind him is my garden.
Celestial Bodies will be performed on the Mainstage for  Columbia College Chicago’s 2011-12 Mainstage Season, directed by Will Casey. It was recently shortlisted for The Internationalists’ Playwriting Prize and Act I was published on earlier this year.  No website yet but I can be reached at or inquiries via Charlotte Knight at The Rod Hall Agency Ltd. London


SCENE  1  – 1598 Via Borgo dei Vignali

(Marina holds candle up to read a sign.)


Universite de Padua.   Galileo Galilei, Mathematician. (Accidentally blows out the flame.) Shit.

(She takes out a tinderbox, opens it. No Gregorian Chant. Tries to strike the flint. Looks like she might puke. Looks up for a nun on strings. None. A lamp in a second story window is lit.)


You again? Every night.  Rats. Indigents. Star gazers. Where are you from?  The Informoso Nazionale? (beat) What do you want from me?


Excuse me, sir, I want


A story? Make something up. You make it all up anyway. You’re not worth the paper you’re printed on.


/to know Something:


I have students here.  Nobles. No paparazzi allowed.


Is there such a thing as a moving


Do you hear me?


/Star? Sir?


Get away from my house.

(He takes off his boot and throws it at her. She ducks. He throws the second one at her.

And it’s professor, not sir.  Now scram.

(He throws the lantern out the window. The flame shoots high in arc to the floor and goes out. It smashes. She puts on the boots and runs off.)

End Scene 1

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Keep Calm and Carry On ~ A View From The Keyboard

The first of our submissions to the series “View From The Keyboard” comes from almost-done Columbia College Chicago Creative Writing-Fiction MFA candidate Kathy Churay. Even as she scrambles to complete her thesis (a story of grief, alcohol, bagpipes, and love), Kathy has taken time out to send this photo of her writing space.

Kathy: Here’s a photo of my bedroom writing desk.  I share an apartment so this is the only place I can go to shut the door.  It’s a bit cramped, but it’s noise- and cat-proof.

Anxiety is ever-present when I write — thus the large poster over the desk.  The motto was originally designed to encourage civilians in London during the Blitz.  It’s a great reminder to me that not writing the Great American Novel isn’t such a big problem after all. ~

Thanks for the submission, Kathy!

A reminder that you, too, can submit your photo and words to Please read the first post in this blog series to find out the guidelines for submission.

Coming soon: an excerpt from a play by award-winning playwright Lisa Schlesinger!←