Most writers would love to be in playwright B.J. Burton's desk chair facing her biggest problem: an overflow of ideas. The anti-writer's block. "I actually have a problem stopping writing," she says on a call from Wayne, Pa., where she lives.
"I sometimes get up at night and take a dictation, and that's more of a problem than writer's block."
The Manitou Art Theatre will stage one of Burton's works, a 10-minute play called A Sky Full of Stars, as part of its fifth annual Six Women Playwriting Festival. (Audiences will watch all six winning plays at each of eight performances over the next two weekends.) Her gushing ideas and strong-willed characters led Burton to craft a story about a writer-in-progress who is manipulated by her characters.
"The characters just would not shut up!" she says.
That concept of "writer as puppeteer" is unique, says Eve Tilley, director of Burton's play. "It's an unusual conceit where the writer's writing away and the characters appear on stage," steering the action.
Though not a playwright herself, Tilley (former president of Pikes Peak Arts Council and Star Bar Players) actually is in her sixth year directing here; she was a part of the original Six Women Over Sixty festival that began in 2006 and became the Six Women Playwriting Festival the next year.
While Burton says this play "just kind of flew out," longer pieces sometimes require a second take. "I've had moments where I've been sort of struggling with character and dialogue, and sometimes it's just the wrong path."
Her remedy: changing the characters or starting closer to the middle of what the story might be. You could say that like her protagonist, Burton lets the characters lead her to the story.