Charlotte Street Foundation identifies the needs and fuels the evolution of an ever-changing multidisciplinary arts ecosystem, acting as its primary provocateur. We cultivate the contemporary, the exceptional, and the unexpected in the practice of artists working in and engaging with the Kansas City Art Community

Melina Neet


“I think without writing I would feel completely useless.” Sam Shepard, who said those words, as well as wrote some of American Theatre’s best plays of the past 30-odd years, has been my writing hero since I was an undergraduate. I read a lot of plays in high school, but not until I read Shepard did I realize that I could be a playwright.

Upon my first reading of Shepard, the impact was visceral; I recognized in Shepard’s work the father/authority figure’s relevance because it mimicked, though not entirely, the authority figure in my own family. A daughter of divorce, who wrote to hide from arguments, I inherited, too, the knowledge that all families are fractured, even if under their perfect facades. My background gave me my characters and my preoccupations with the dark side of the American Dream, informed by a latchkey sensibility and juxtaposition of urban/rural family lives.

My holy trinity, as it were, is comprised of Sam Shepard, Eugene O’Neill and Eric Overmeyer, all playwrights for whom language is master. In the dialogue the characters reveal themselves with a raw eloquence; language is the aorta in the heart of the best writers, and that’s my inspiration as a writer.

In my dramatic writing, I’ve always had a protagonist – though typically male, essentially an Everywoman/man – who seems to be playing his own endgame. Survival of one’s wits becomes the preoccupation for these harried characters. Not least is this true for Travis, the returning veteran in my new play, SATELLITE. Having gone into the Army out of desperation and left out of frustration, Travis returns to his small Missouri town to find that he feels not fully present but, with nowhere else to go, he stays to reconnect – and spar – with the only family that he has, his fellow small town misfits.

SATELLITE is a play of homecomings, ambivalent and bittersweet, of watching drive-in movies without the sound while listening to passing trains and diesel trucks on the highway, of dreaming of somewhere beyond one’s own familiar confines and hearing those passions voiced by a voice on the FM dial. My own small town childhood left its imprint, but writing quiets my childhood ghosts.”

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This entry was posted on August 13, 2013 by in Melina Neet, Writers.

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