A Note from Associate Literary Director Lauren Halvorsen

The Night Watcher is Charlayne Woodard’s fourth solo play. Raised in a family of storytellers, she gravitated to the form for its expressive freedom:  “I feel that everyone has stories to tell,” Woodard says, “So instead of being frustrated that the type of stories I wanted to see and hear were not being told, I decided to tell them myself.” Her previous autobiographical works provide an intimate chronology of her life, detailing memorable events from her childhood, adolescence, and early career.

As a writer, Woodard’s emotional connection with her subject matter is paramount: “Something has to hit me. Something has to mean something to me…I want to tell the stories that affect me on a visceral level.” In The Night Watcher, Woodard looks beyond her own formative experiences to focus on those of her kids. While Woodard has no biological children of her own—briefly tempted by the potential for adventure that parenting brings, she ultimately focused on the daunting demands of child-rearing and her busy career and opted to forgo full-time motherhood—she is a godmother, aunt, and friend to dozens of children. In the play’s ten vignettes, the nimble Woodard embodies an array of characters to recount the milestones and misfortunes of her real-life coterie of young confidantes, and the ways they’ve enhanced and occasionally rattled her life.

As Woodard navigates the realities of part-time parenting, the necessity of her role grows clear. In an interview with LA Stage Times, she remarked, “The kids of America are on my heart. They have a hard way to go. It’s a struggle for them. All of us have a responsibility to our children. When I was growing up, life was fed to us with teaspoons; now our kids are getting it full force. Everything is hitting them so quickly. The world is bigger than it’s ever been. It has an effect on them. I was raised by a village. That’s what it takes.” The Night Watcher illuminates the joys and struggle of being one small part of that village, and the profound effect that one person can have on the lives of others.