Playwrights: John Leverett & Whitney Teubner
Playscripts is wrapping up 2018 with an interview of the playwriting team behind How to Ruin a Promposal, John Leverett and Whitney Teubner:
Note: Promposal – Noun: An invitation, especially one which is made in an elaborate manner, in which the invitee is asked to accompany the inviter to a prom.
Tell us about how each of your writing journeys began.
John Leverett: I fell in love with stories and writing in my creative writing classes in sixth grade. Letting my imagination run wild and creating a cast of characters in faraway places was always fun for me. I also loved comedies and musicals, so I absorbed all that I could. These passions led me to working and creating content in the music and television business; writing stories in various mediums.
Whitney Teubner: I grew up sort of a misfit and not really knowing where I belonged. I didn’t have much direction, but my senior year of high school I tried out for the improv team on a whim and made it! From there, my love of the arts, theater, and writing blossomed.
Congrats on your new work How to Ruin Your Promposal! What were your inspirations for the play, and what excites you about it?
JL: Thanks, we are very excited about the play.
Whitney and I wanted to tell a teen story that was funny, relevant and relatable. A play that talks about what kids are really going through right now.
Promposals have become an important part of a student’s expression of themselves. They bring out their creativity, insecurities, style, humor, shyness, frustration, and vulnerability. Whether you go to the prom or not, whether you get or give a promposal or not, all students have an opinion on and are affected by these events in their high school life.
WT: Thank you! To me, promposals embody what’s great about social media. It connects us and inspires us to make special events out of everyday things. Kids are getting so creative and funny with their promposals I thought it would be a blast to write a show about them.
How does creating a collaborative piece like Promposal differ from being the sole writer of a play?
JL: I love the back and forth of writing with someone else. Whitney and I have a similar sense of humor, so we are good at playing off each other’s writing. We add our own voice to each piece, our own point of view, which makes for a more interesting story. Also, it is more fun to write at a diner with someone else than by yourself.
WT: When I started writing I thought that you had to be a certain “way” in order to be considered a professional writer. As I’ve continued my journey as a writer, I’ve learned that you can do whatever works best for you. I love collaborating and doing things with other people. I grew up in a big family so the thought of doing something alone seems so boring! It’s so fun to be creative and laugh with your friends.
What’s next on your horizons? Should we be looking out for anything new from you? Will you be writing more pieces together?
JL: We are absolutely writing new plays together. We are currently in the creative brainstorming phase of our next projects. We hope to bring you more stories from other students at Hamilton High that you have not gotten a chance to meet yet.
WT: John and I are hard at work on new ideas for our next play. We’re both goofballs and love to laugh so it will certainly be a comedy!
For those reading who want to be doing what you’re doing, please share your one piece of advice you would have wanted to have heard when you were starting out.
JL: Take the extra writing class, theater class, speech class. These will prepare you to be a better storyteller, giving you confidence and connections in your career. Keep writing!
WT: Whatever you want to do, do it. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to start. Also, there’s no “right” way to be as a creative person. Be you, because the world needs more unique points of view!
John Leverett has created, developed and marketed content for some of the biggest entertainment franchises at The Walt Disney Company, ABC Television and numerous record labels. From on-air to live events and tours, John’s work has been seen around the world. John is married and lives in Los Angeles. If you can’t find him, he is probably out on a hike with the dog.
Whitney Teubner grew up in sunny Southern California and is a graduate of the Second City Conservatory and UCB Advanced Study programs. She started her career as a writer’s assistant on the Emmy Award-winning show Children’s Hospital. Her writing credits include Disney Channel, VICE, Comedy Central, and Adult Swim. Her work has also been featured on Huffington Post Comedy, Deadspin, The Comic’s Comic, and the front page of FunnyorDie. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and human-baby-prince-reincarnated-into-a-cat, Linney.