GUNS IN DRAGONLAND
sponsored by: tom & colette walls
"Lilah, I’m very sorry that running is not the game you want to play right now, but sometimes we have to play games that we hate."
Guns in Dragonland
Eislinn Gracen is Florida-based writer and a current junior. Her piece, GUNS IN DRAGONLAND, was initially workshopped & produced as a virtual staged reading as the headliner for Beth Marshall Presents’ New Works Series. She was a participant and winner in the inaugural Be Original playwriting festival in 2019, hosted by New Generation Theatricals and Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center. She won the Florida Theatrical Association Award for her play, WOLF IN A CONCRETE JUNGLE, which was performed as a table read at the festival and also as a staged reading at UCF last winter. Most recently, she wrote the part of THE PARDONER in the Howler’s Theatre presented virtual reading of the Orlando Fringe Festival’s THE CANTERBURY TALES PROJECT.
During a recess like any other, Lilah Gordon and her best friend/imaginary dragon, Toucan, set off on a special adventure to help Lilah earn dragon wings of her own. But things go awry when a mysterious noise from her nearby school compels the duo to embark on the biggest quest they have ever encountered.
Get to Know Eislinn
When did you start writing? What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
I started my first play in the downtime in my digital design class my freshman year. I’m very fond of satire and that’s a big part of my style as a writer. Many of my inspirations are things that interest me as a person. Some broader themes in my works stem from numerous SNL sketches, modern pop culture, and short horror stories from around the world. A book that majorly inspired me upon reading was Gary K. Wolf’s Who Censored Roger Rabbit for its incredibly zany & interesting world and character building while still relying on adult themes. Movies like Reefer Madness (2005), Amelie, and The Truman Show have all made me think in different ways but are all so pseudo-comedic in their approaches, I just love them. Of course I am inspired by plays: The Pillowman, How I Learned to Drive, and Why Torture is Wrong and the People Who Love Them are immediate thoughts when it comes to how I’ve been inspired by playwrights.
How did you come to write your #ENOUGH play? Given that there are many dimensions to the issue of gun violence, what aspect did you focus on and why?
Guns in Dragonland is a reference to children’s programming as well as a recollection of how that and school shootings have affected me. The idea came to me when I had a conversation with my little brother, (he’s 8 but he was 7 at this point in time), on the car ride home after picking him up at school when he had a lockdown a few days prior. He explained to me that he doesn’t really know “why” he and his classmates hide and all his main reasoning referenced a “bad man” who they had to hide from. This conversation was so unnerving with just how unbelievably innocent he is. Paired with the distant anxiety of “what would I do if I lost this incredible kid in a school shooting” led to the chilling idea for Guns in Dragonland.
What other issues or subjects do you care deeply about that you wish you saw on stage more? Why is this issue important for you?
I care a lot about mental disability & suicide awareness. I try to have all my plays reflect those themes in a sense. I want people to be able to see things through different eyes by reading or watching my work.
If you could write a play or story that represented the future you want to be a part of, what would it look like?
Honestly, with all that’s been going on I just want the future to be even a smidge better than it is currently. Of course, everyone wants to have a good future, but I want to be able to look back on my childhood and think “Wow. What a crazy time that was.” Some good, some bad, but all crazy. I just want a more mellow earth than the one we’re on now. If I wrote a play about this future, it would be set there (of course), and take place in a retirement home full of grown up Gen Z kids and their stories about the 2010’s. Sometimes I look at people I know and wonder “what will they be like when they’re older.” I want to be able to create an answer for my own question.
What are some of your favorite plays?
Some of my all time favorites include John Pielmier’s Agnes of God, Beth Henley’s The Miss Firecracker Contest, & Christopher Durang’s Betty’s Summer Vacation.
What will your next play be about?
My next play will be submitted to this year’s Florida Regional Thespian Festival. It’s about an alternate reality where lawyers, doctors, and scientists struggle to get by. Members of the entertainment business dominate the one percent with its most successful industries being that of clowns and mimes. It follows a clown with stars in her eyes who comes to the city to audition to become a famous dentist despite the stigma that follows that profession.
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Explore this year's collection of plays that reveal the many dimensions of gun violence in America and the young playwrights who wrote them.
Students in grades 6-12 write short plays on the topic of gun violence.