Brian Kettler


Brian is a playwright and educator, originally from Portland. He recently completed his MFA in Playwriting at University of Texas-Austin, where he studied under Steven Dietz. This year, he worked as a Curriculum Consultant with the August Wilson Red Door Project, a Teaching Artist with the Oregon Children's Theatre Young Playwrights for Change Competition and a Coach for the Lincoln High School Mock Trial team.

How did you connect to PlayWrite?

I first heard of PlayWrite when I attended a performance at Portland Center Stage about 4 or 5 years ago. I filed it away in the back of my mind and upon returning to Portland, I contacted the organization to see if they were hiring writing coaches. PlayWrite represents everything I'm looking for in a teaching opportunity. It is a chance to teach playwriting and storytelling concepts to students who might not get this training from anywhere else.

What makes PlayWrite so unique?

The thing that makes PlayWrite so incredible is the impact it has on its writers. Students completely transform throughout the workshop and you can see them take ownership of their plays and personal artistic vision. It always amazes me how PlayWrite coaches are able to create an environment of safety and trust in such a short time, which allows writers to be vulnerable and take risks.

Your most memorable PlayWrite experience?

While there have been countless memorable moments throughout the different workshops, the moment that sticks out for me actually happened just last week. I was working with a writer on developing a Sea Otter character and the writer began to delve deep into this character's emotional make up. She described the animal as caring and nurturing, but also prone to spells of violence and jealousy. She talked about the Sea Otter floating on her back in the middle of the night, looking up at the stars and contemplating her own place in the universe. As I was furiously trying to write down all of these great details, I found myself starting to cry. In the span of less than an hour, this teenaged writer had created a character with so much depth, sadness and emotional specificity. It was a great reminder that a good artist and writer can always catch you off guard, no matter their age or experience level.

What are you most looking forward to in PlayWrite's future?

One reason I love PlayWrite is that it's a fluid, constantly evolving program. The people who work at the organization are constantly questioning how to make more of an impact, how to better serve our writers. The PlayWrite process is, by design, a very character-based process and I come from a much more narrative, story-based background. I am continuing to figure out how I can bring more of my personal training and experience into the PlayWrite world. I really value the people I work with and one of my favorite parts of the job is discussing the process and organizational philosophies with my colleagues at PlayWrite.

Lastly, tell us something about your world outside of PlayWrite.

Last year, I was commissioned by Orphic Theatre Company in Portland to adapt the Euripides' play, Iphigenia Among the Taurians. I have been working on my script, titled Iphigenia 3.0, for about a year and we are having a reading of the play in this yea's Fertile Ground Festival. For more information about the project, click here