Robin Rice Lichtig, Antioch College alum (59-63) placed in the top three in the Goshen Peace Play Contest 2008 this summer for her one act play, “Blood Sisters.” This prestigious award is hardly the first Lichtig has received in her play writing career.
According to Lichtig, the world of play writing is a tough one. “Any where I send a script for a competition, they get any where from 500 to 1000 scripts.” However, for Lichtig and other playwrights, contests are only the beginning. “I remember you asked me ‘what does this [award] do for you’ – and I said ‘nothing’ and it really does do nothing at all, except that when you send the play out you can mention that it was a winner,” she said. “All it ever gets you: Sometimes you get a production. Sometimes you get $300 if you’re lucky, but really that’s about it.”
Lichtig specifically spoke about the difficulty of landing a major production. “There are almost no agents for playwrights; they’re getting out of the business. It’s financial.” she said. Lichtig went on to describe a conundrum she says she and others are experiencing. Landing a major production is very difficult, especially without an agent, but the agents still in the business only work for those who have had major productions.
Lichtig also spoke of another difficulty she’s faced, one that she “didn’t want to recognize for years.” “It’s something like 12% of all the plays that are done are by women, which is a worse percentage than it was 30 years ago.” she said. “It’s a very complex situation” she said, before going on to say that “part of the reason is that the artistic directors and the boards of directors of theaters are almost all men.” Only one or two women have plays in New York this season.
However, while unhappy with the current state of the theater industry, Lichtig continues her work play writing. For Lichtig, “to be a practical playwright, you should write a play that can be done on a bare stage.” However, she doesn’t see that as a limitation. One of her plays, for example, is set in “a very elaborate tree house” she said, and “this can all be done on a bare stage and very few props.” Louise Smith, theater professor at Nonstop Institute was drawn to “Blood Sisters” not only because of the writing, but also because it could be performed with few people in a small space, allowing for maximum flexibility; she hopes to do a reading of the play in Yellow Springs this winter.
While Lichtig’s repertoire includes imaginative and magical elements, her work also finds solid ground in social, political, cultural and environmental issues. Lichtig’s winning Goshen Peace Play “Blood Sisters” is based on real events from 2003, when three nuns were convicted in Denver for defacing a nuclear weapons site. “Robin clearly takes affective poetic liberties with the story and creates characters that are charming and unexpected.” Smith said, when asked about the play.
Lichtig’s work can be found outside of theaters, too. Her publishers include Bakers Plays, Dramatic Publishing, Smith & Kraus, Brooklyn Publishers, JAC Publishing and Promotions, ArtAge, Mae West Fest, and ManhattanTheatreSource.
In 1959, Lichtig entered Antioch College in the visual arts program. Within the year, she switched to political science; in 1963 she “ended up joining the PeaceCorp and dropping out of Antioch, which was a huge mistake.” For the next twenty years she remained politically and socially active and continued her education, including a masters degree in play writing at the age of 50 from Antioch McGregor. Since then, she’s authored over 40 plays and won numerous contests.