The Wind Beneath 'Butterfly Wings'

Bruce Smith, Santa Monica College's Public Information Officer and Director of Communication, recently sat down with the Corsair to discuss his new play, "Butterfly Wings."

As a life-long writer, Smith explored many types of writing styles. He began writing short stories throughout high school and during his mid-thirties he began to write plays.

When Smith began to write again in his early thirties he went back to writing short stories, but he had trouble creating a draft that pleased him. He didn't feel comfortable with his once-loved writing form, so he tried writing plays for the first time in his life. "My mother was an actress," Smith said. "I grew up around the theatre, and I loved it." With this idea, he formed his writing career around his love for the theatre.

Smith was commissioned by SMC's Theatre Arts Department chair, Perviz Sawoski, to write a play that would work well with a large cast and have elements of fantastical and global themes, and this resulted in the play, "Butterfly Wings."

The play features three college students on the cusp of graduation. Their dreams all eventually intertwine and bring them together. The cast features SMC's broad range of international students. Swedish, Argentinean, Asian-American, and African-American characters from different walks of life are all brought together. The play uses a Greek chorus to create an effect that dramatizes the fantastical themes.

Smith was inspired by the 2006 movie "Babel" and its underlying theme of global interconnectedness and the cause and effect of one event to another. The play was named after Edward N. Lorenz's famous quote: "Does the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?" The idea questions the global impact of a small event, such as the flap of a butterfly's wings.

The play will include "interesting use of masks and fabric, so it should be interesting," said Smith. "Perviz Sawoski has done an amazing job with directing and choreographing the play."

Smith's first play, "Close to Glenn," was performed in 1997 in Sacramento, Calif. and "Butterfly Wings" will be his 13th play production. He has been awarded Los Angeles Outstanding Theater Awards for eight of his plays by L.A. Weekly and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Smith has been featured in American Theatre Magazine for his work in playwriting and has been a member of the Dramatists Guild since 1998.

In addition to his playwriting accomplishments, Smith was also recognized in his profession as Public Information Officer and Director of Communication at the annual conference of community college public information officers at the Community College Public Relations Organization's annual conference.

"Butterfly Wings" opens on Friday, Oct. 31 with two performances on Nov. 1 and one on Nov. 2 at the Studio Stage in the Theatre Arts building on the SMC main campus. Tickets are $10. There will also be a discussion after the Saturday evening show for no additional charge.