On March 26, Lilly Burchfield performed in a staged reading of her play “52nd Street Comics.”
What began as a 10-page assignment for her playwriting class in the spring 2021 semester, eventually grew into a one-act play about Jamie, a comic book store owner with a particular love for Billy Joel music.
“The prompt was a comic book collector wrongs someone and hears the voice of God. We were supposed to write a 10-minute play from that,” Burchfield explained. “I have always loved comic book things, so when he gave that prompt I was like, ‘okay.’ I wanted it to be about not the person that wronged the friend, but about the friend that was wronged. And so I wanted it to be more about that person’s perspective and make it a female perspective since it was comic books and that is a male-dominated field. Once I put it in that perspective I could not stop writing.”
Originally, Burchfield planned to write a two-act play, complete with musical numbers where performers would sing Billy Joel songs.
“With that being the end goal, I was less excited to edit and make rewrites, so I just wouldn’t touch it because I didn’t want to think about that because it was too daunting,” Burchfield said.
As a result, she decided to switch gears. Because her graduation requirements for a musical theater major dictated that she had to do a performance that included music along with a written component, Burchfield instead decided to use last semester’s “Christmas Carol” performance as her performance aspect and her play as the written aspect. Burchfield’s choice to use her role as the Ghost of Christmas Future as her performance meant she did not have to stage a full performance of her play, but instead could do a staged reading.
“Sometimes it’s called readers theater where you stand with a music stand and your script and you act it out in place and somebody reads the directions of what’s going on in the scene and the actors read the lines,” Burchfield explained.
Now that the reading has been performed, Burchfield is back to editing her play.
“I’m going to keep on editing the script. I do want to make it longer because it does feel like it’s a lot of stuff to happen in like one weekend,” Burchfield said. “I want to develop the relationships more by extending the period of time that it happens over. And I also want to edit it to where it’s not just Billy Joel. I want it to be like a choose your own adventure thing for the directors in the future. With copyright, if I choose to only do Billy Joel music, then only theaters who have the copyright to use his music can do this show.”
After graduation, Burchfield hopes to travel abroad to continue working in theater.
“I’m staying in Birmingham until September,” Burchfield said. “Then in September, I am going to Ireland for an internship. I am currently trying to raise some money for that. I just started a GoFundMe for it.”
For more information about how to support Burchfield’s journey to Ireland, click the link here.