Race! Adoption! Writer's Block! Playwright Tanya Barfield Wakes Up to The Call

By Robert Simonson
26 Mar 2013

The Call doesn't only draw on Barfield's recent experiences. The way she sees it, the themes of adoption and parents, both biological and not, have long played a role in her life.

"My dad is not my biological father," she says. "I grew up without a biological connection to my father, but he was very much my dad. My mom is white. I remember as a child, kids saying 'Oh, are you adopted?' when they saw me with my mom, whom I was, in fact, biologically related to. I have, in many different areas of my life, a connection and deep bond of family where there is not a biological connection."

Since breaking free from her writer's block, Barfield has been prolific. She wakes at 4 AM every morning to write before her kids wake up. "Someone told me that's the wolfing hour," she muses. "I guess I do feel a little bit like a werewolf. Until I get my coffee, that is my experience." When she's not composing, she's managing the playwriting program at The Juilliard School. Her children have a vague idea of what mommy does for a living.

"They think that I'm a teacher," she says, "because I also teach playwriting, and that's what they can relate to, because they go to school and they have teachers. However, my son did say to me, very astutely, 'Mom, why don't you write a musical. It seems like you'd make a whole lot more money.'"

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Kerry Butler, Russell G. Jones, Crystal A. Dickinson, Kelly AuCoin and Eisa Davis
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN