Carmel Valley writer explores the challenging world of foster youth in new drama at 26th annual Playwrights Project Festival

Lisa Kirazian (Photo: Jon Clark)
Lisa Kirazian (Photo: Jon Clark)

By Arthur Lightbourn

Contributor

For San Diego playwright Lisa Kirazian, writing plays is an affair of the heart.

Or as she explains to young aspiring writers who may wish to follow in her footsteps, playwriting comes down to, “not being afraid to speak what’s coming from your heart because in a play it’s all out there for the world to see and if it’s fake and not genuine, people will be able to tell pretty quickly. So it really has to be visceral, from your heart.”

Her newest full-length play, “Switch,” is an exploration of the world of foster care with four actors playing multiple characters in a game show setting. It is being featured in five performances in the ‘Telling Stories: Giving Voice to Foster Youth’ program during the 26th annual Playwrights Project Festival at the Lyceum Theatre in Horton Plaza April 1-10.

“I wanted to show the difficulties and the challenges in the world of foster care as well as those moments of joy and inspiration,” Kirazian said. “There’s a lot of sound and light and lots of effects in this play because I’m sort of creating an absurdist world, but set very much in the realities of foster care.”

“Switch” was commissioned to rotate between performances of this year’s winning entries in the project’s California Young Playwrights Contest, which is open to writers 19 and younger.

Performance schedules are available at the project’s Website: www.playwrightsproject.org and tickets may be purchased online at:

www.lyceumevents.org

Kirazian, a Carmel Valley wife and mother of two young children, is a professional playwright and screenwriter with nearly 20 scripts to her credit. Six of her plays have been produced across California.

Her screenplay scripts include “Cassatt and Degas,” based on the life of painter Mary Cassatt and her love-hate relationship with artist Edgar Degas, which won the Telluride Indiefest Screenplay Contest in 2002 and has been optioned for a Hollywood movie.

We interviewed Kirazian in the offices of this newspaper.

Asked if she herself was a foster child, she said, “I wasn’t.”

She came from a very happy cohesive family, but, growing up in San Diego’s Del Cerro neighborhood, she had a friend who was in foster care and other friends who were adopted or were the parents of foster children.

“That was my first exposure to foster care, but much of the material for my play came from research and talking to people in the system,” she said.

“So many of these kids,” she said, “regardless of the circumstances they are facing are still so positive and that’s very inspiring to me.”

In her family, Kirazian was the youngest of three daughters born in San Diego. Her father, George Kirazian, is a retired professor of literature who taught for 40 years at Grossmont College.

“I was very much influenced by him growing up,” she said of her father. “Reading plays and seeing operas and discussing them was very much a big part of my education.”

She describes her mother as a “wonderful mother, singer, and seamstress who taught us a lot about empathy.”

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