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Office space: Christina Anderson, playwright at the Unicorn Theatre

After leaving Kansas City, Kan., almost 15 years ago, Christina Anderson is back as a nationally renowned playwright. She’s showcasing her latest work, “Black Top Sky,” at the Unicorn Theatre on Jan.

Playwrite Christina Anderson.

A typical day

9 a.m. She rolls out of bed and checks her email.

10 a.m. She works up a sweat at the gym.

Noon-5 p.m. She grabs lunch, runs to meetings with agents and directors, and attends interviews. “I’m learning to be an expert in time-management,” she said.

6 p.m. She catches a show or conducts research for her plays.

9 p.m. She writes until she can barely keep her eyes open.

2 a.m. Bed time, finally.

Special to Ink

No place like home

When Anderson found out the Unicorn Theatre was interested in debuting her latest play, she jumped at the chance. The New York City resident loves to make it back home whenever possible. Her favorite things to do when back on Kansas City soil include exploring the theater scene and savoring every last bite of her mom’s home-cooked meals.

Exploring ‘Black Top Sky’

Black American culture has been a theme in Anderson’s body of work for the past decade. “Black Top Sky” proves no different. It revolves around Ida Peters, a girl who yearns to get out of the projects. Her relationship with her boyfriend is rocked when she meets an intriguing homeless man who changes her life. Writing the play was a fun challenge, Anderson said, because she chose to emphasize the importance of body language in addition to verbal communication.

A character study

Anderson crafted the characters of her latest play long before she even knew the plot. She’s excited, humbled, and even a little scared to see them come to life on stage.

“I imagine it’s like putting your kids on the school bus for the first time,” she said. “I actually had the opportunity to meet with this cast in November, which was cool because I got to witness how smart and creative they are beforehand. I’m excited to see them bring a different layer to these characters, which I could never achieve.”

Love at first write

The theater bug bit Anderson in ninth grade when her high school drama teacher took her class to the Coterie for a playwriting workshop.

“I liked the immediacy of it — the ability to have a human body on stage expressing the emotion of the story,” she said. “I love that it is a world in which adults are still able to play pretend.”

Plus, playwriting was a cheap passion for the teen — all she needed was a pen and paper.

Paying it forward

Anderson — who has studied playwriting at both Brown University and Yale University — is now using her experience to help the playwrights of tomorrow. This spring she will begin teaching the craft at Purchase College in Purchase, N.Y.

Advice for future writers

“Read everything you can get your hands on, write all the time, even if you think it’s bad or the structure is wrong, and recognize the tools you have at your fingertips,” she said. “If you keep doing things that will make you happy, everything else will fall into place.”


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