Purging Old Issues; An Interview with Jodi Leidecker

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Jodie Leidecker discusses her play I Join A Mental Institution and Have Fun! Premiering this Saturday at Casa de Beverley’s One Acts and Snacks!

Q: How did you hear about One Acts and Snacks?

A: I found this group on NYCP blogspot. It has great opportunities and I’ve had other small productions through that site.

Q: Can you tell me more about your play? What was your inspiration? Why did you select this piece for the reading?

A: I wrote a memoir (that isn’t very good and didn’t get published!), and I took a chapter and made it into this short play about my time being treated for depression as a teenager. It helped me purge some old issues, plus I think the main character exhibits the love of the absurd bordering cynicism that is a hallmark of my family’s way dealing with life. I submitted three plays and Katie selected this one. I was glad because it’s never been performed.

Q: What are your goals for the reading?

A: I want to see if the jokes would work or fall flat. Also, I wonder if it’s too busy, with all the action in the background with the main character narrating and interacting with other characters at the same time.

Q: What are you most looking forward to? What are you most nervous about?

A: I am looking forward to seeing how the actors breathe life into my ideas. I find it fascinating how different people bring such variety to stories-how they think about delivering lines. I’m nervous it will be a big disaster and I’ll have to slink out of Brooklyn under cover of dark of night, never to touch fingertip to keyboard again…and that I’ll end up living in a dumpster, that climate change is irreversible. I know that might not all be related to this play.

Q: What advice would you give to playwrights who might be interested in joining One Acts and Snacks?

A: I would say just try it. I have been met with a high level of professionalism and dedication. The people involved are serious about producing art. Isn’t that cool?

Out of Body on a Train

Erin Moughon discusses her play Out of Body on a Train, one of the three featured plays in this month’s One Acts and Snacks.

Tickets are still available! Click here.

Warning: This interview contains mentions of rape and abuse.

Q: How did you hear about One Acts and Snacks?

A: Kendra Augustin forwarded me the email about the August dinner.

Q: Can you tell me more about your play? What was your inspiration? Why did you select this piece for the reading?

A: My play is about a young woman who wakes up hungover on a subway that is stalled between stations. but all is not what it seems. As the other person in the play tells her, she’s not on a train; she’s by a dumpster being raped. It was inspired by a play I saw this summer about two men on a stalled subway train, and I started wondering about what it would be like if two women were on the train. I also spent a lot of 2016 reading about the woman who was raped by the Stanford rapist and reading her response. Then I started thinking about my own fears, and what terrifies me the most is someone doing something to me with no ability to stop it, and to have someone else permanently alter me physically and mentally against my will, like the ultimate loss of control and then to be marked by that loss of control.

Q: What are your goals for the reading?

A: To see if I can expand the play or if it works best as a short play. Actually to see if the story lands or does what I hope at all.

Q: What are you most looking forward to? What are you most nervous about?

A: Same answer for both: audience reactions. Really. Also looking forward to: hearing the play so that I can edit it. Nervous about: what if it doesn’t work?

Q: What advice would you give to playwrights who might be interested in joining One Acts and Snacks?

A: DO IT. We write plays because we want to collaborate and play with others. This is a safe place to do that with smart people who want to hear plays.

Sisterhood In The Time of the Apocalypse

Casa playwright Kendra Augustin discusses her new play Found a Friend.  Interview by Natalie Osborne

Q: How did you hear about One Acts and Snacks?

A: A Facebook post. Probably on The Official Playwrights of Facebook page in early 2015.

Q: Can you tell me more about your play?

A: Found A Friend is about two sisters who have been apart for about a decade who finally come back together on the last day of the world.

Q: What was your inspiration?

A: I was watching a movie a few years ago, loved the title, super excited to see it, and was disappointed that it turned into a love story. I thought if the world was ending, what would it be like to reconnect with a family member you haven’t seen in forever? I remember watching the movie thinking about if they had any siblings, or parents to meet on the last day of the world. I don’t think it’s a time to fall in love. At least not with someone new.  Maybe an old crush or flame.

Q: There are so many movies and tv shows with the end of the world as their premise. Why do you think that is?

A: I like to think it’s because so many of us live our lives afraid to do anything or say anything grand that we wonder what if we didn’t have to be grand? What if something grand (like the world coming to an end)  forced us to just talk to one another? The world ends when you  break up or when someone you care about dies and it seems that’s when many of us finally decide to share our hearts.

Q:  What about the end of the world draws you in?

A: I remember somewhere (Tumblr) where someone posted that the world ending is like God being fair. One of the scary things about death is that you’re kind of in it alone. And it’s unexpected. But if the whole world ends it’s no longer just you and you have time to absorb it. You are now connected to everyone. There is no, “What if I don’t get to live my life to the full?” because there is no future to look forward to. Comforting I think.

Q: What about sisters as opposed to other family relationships or friendships draws you in?

A: One of the first plays I wrote was also about the end of the world, but with friends. I hadn’t watched it at the time but Melancholia (Lars von trier’s film) was coming out and I thought the imagery (Tumblr posts) were lovely and dreamy. And I had just discovered The Ropes (and their song “I Don’t Like To Get Dirty”) and I was inspired to write.

But, seriously, after watching that movie with the good title, I was like, I kept thinking  about her mom? Or sister? And why she was falling in love with some dude.

I feel, in real life, so many of us are somewhat estranged from family members, but when it comes down to it, sometimes, we don’t have to be. If we were just willing to be vulnerable and soft, many wounds could be healed. But, it’s so scary. Plus, I liked the idea of two women who could be friends, but have a deeper bond by being related by blood. If the world is going to end maybe you want to spend it with that sister who you haven’t spoken to in years because you’re mad she…left/moved away/hurt you. Underneath pain sometimes is just a person who feels unloved (by the person they love!)

Q: What advice would you give to playwrights who might be interested in joining One Acts and Snacks?

A: Come to an event. Check it out. I’ve met many a great folk through it. Plus, food.

Come See Found a Friend October 15th at Casa de Beverley! Purchase tickets here.

Interview with Jacqui Lynch

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Season Three starts this Saturday at 6pm, and to celebrate, we’re interviewing the playwrights in the reading. Here, Jacqui Lynch talks about her play Nurses.

 

Interview Conducted by: Natalie Osborne

 

How did you hear about One Acts and Snacks?

 

I look into a blog called NYC Playwrights about once a week for postings that interest me.  I really liked the ‘salon’ aspect of Katie’s/Casa de Beverley’s events and the community feel to it.

 

Can you tell me more about your play? What was your inspiration? Why did you select this piece for the reading?

 

This summer I gave myself the task of coming up with a hundred ideas from which I could possibly write.  My initial idea was to write 50 on the way to the beach, take a break and enjoy the waves and then write 50 more on the way back. I only  managed 25 in each direction so I had to go to the beach a second time! The idea for ‘Nurses’ came from one of those – closer to a hundred than to 1. It started as two friends leaving work together everyday and then evolved into a story of two friends and their conflicting ideas of how they see each other’s lives and what they think is best for each other, instigated by their own period of self doubt.  It’s two friends being very intimate with their opinions of each other, and I thought sharing it in such an intimate setting would be an appealing first read.

 

Out of all the ideas you came up with while walking to the beach, what made you stick with the idea for Nurses?

 

About a week later, I sat down and made myself write down all the ones I could remember without looking and “Nurses” was the first one.

 

Was there anything else that inspired you while you were working on this piece? 

 

Yes.  I have a few people in my life that I’ve been friends with for a very long time.  I wanted this play to reflect what a long term friendship relationship is like.

 

Do you have a favorite playwright or writers who’s work you return to for inspiration? 

 

My favorite playwright is Beckett, but my favorite writer for inspiration is Jennifer Saunders.  Specifically her book “Bonkers My Life in Laughs.”  There’s something about it that makes me think, I could be a writer.  Sure!

 

What are your goals for the reading?

 

I’m interested in hearing how people react to the journey of the friendship and if it rings true.

 

What are you most looking forward to? What are you most nervous about?

 

What I’ve learned about the writing process is that when you conceive your play you think it’s a great idea and people will relate to it, and then there is a period where you can’t believe you ever thought you should let it out of your head and into the world, and then that passes and you’re excited for people to see it again.  Even though I know that’s the pattern, I wonder if I’m the only one who will relate to it, and even if that is the case, I am looking forward to conversing with the  audience about their thoughts.

 

What advice would you give to playwrights who might be interested in joining One Acts and Snacks?

 

Anything you’re interested in you should follow through on.  I’ve always had ideas, but to get it out of the house takes perseverance, and maybe even a new set of skills.  This year for me has been about that. And it’s been completely worth it!   One Acts and Snacks is a really supportive community, very welcoming, and very high on theater!

 

 

Interview with Karin Diann Williams

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Season Three of Casa de Beverley starts a week from Saturday! To celebrate, we’re interviewing the first of three featured playwrights! Here, Karin Diann Williams discusses her play Portrait of Mabel.

 

Interview by Natalie Osborne

 

How did you hear about One Acts and Snacks?

 

I heard about OAS from Kendra Augustin, who I worked with on the 365­Women­A­Year Project.

 

Can you tell me more about your play? What was your inspiration? Why did you select this piece for the reading?

 

I chose Portrait of Mabel  for the reading because I just finished it this summer, and I haven’t had a chance to hear it or show it to anyone. I hope I made the right choice! Mabel is part of the 365­Women­A­Year playwriting project, a series of plays about about women in history.

It’s based on the memoirs of Mabel Dodge Luhan, an early twentieth century patron of the arts who hosted a famous Greenwich Village salon, and helped organize the 1913 Armory Show. Gertrude Stein wrote a modernist stream­of­consciousness essay about her: Portrait of Mabel Dodge at the Villa Curonia.

Mabel was all about bringing artists and activists together to exchange ideas. I can’t think of a more perfect setting for this play than Casa de Beverly ­­ an intimate salon just like the one Mabel hosted!

 

When did you first hear about Mabel Dodge Luhan? What about her story inspired you to write about her?

 

I grew up in New Mexico, where Mabel Dodge Luhan is basically a household name. The Mabel Dodge Luhan house in Taos is still very active as an arts center, artists’ retreat and inn. On New Year’s Day I was in Albuquerque visiting my parents when the 365­women­a­year project opened up for 2016, and I decided to claim a historic woman from NM. I was really surprised when I checked the database and found out no one had written about Mabel yet.

 

Can you walk me through the process of researching Luhan and adapting her life for the stage?

 

Mabel made things easy for me by writing a four­volume memoir of her life and times, collectively entitled Intimate Memories. The memoir follows Mabel from her early years in Buffalo through a series of youthful lesbian romances, becoming a mother and then a widow at 23, her life in Florence, her move to New York City in 1913 where she started a famous bohemian salon, her journeys to Provincetown and Croton in search of spiritual fulfillment, and finally her discovery of Taos ­­where she founded an arts colony with her Native American husband, Tony. The real challenge was distilling a one­act play from such an eventful life.

 

Can you tell me more about the relationship between Stein’s poem and your own piece?

 

Gertrude Stein’s Portrait of Mabel Dodge inspired the structure of my play, which is a series of five ten­minute plays for four actors, designed to be performed in any order or combination. Stein wrote in a stream­of­consciousness style, inspired by cubist art. I tried to put diverse moments from Mabel’s life together in a similar way, with haphazard juxtapositions that might reveal deeper psychological and social truths.

 

What other sources did you draw inspiration from while you were working on this piece?

 

Besides learning more about Mabel, I researched some of the people who were important to her, including her second husband Edwin Dodge, her anarchist friend Hutchins Hapgood, and her socialist lover Jack Reed, who got Mabel to help him stage a pageant for striking workers in Madison Square Garden. There was also her third husband, painter and sculptor Maurice Sterne, her friend Elizabeth Duncan (Isadora’s sister) who had an avant­garde dance school in Croton, and her fourth husband, Tony, who risked his reputation as a tribal leader in Taos Pueblo to begin an affair with her. As often as possible, I tried to use the character’s actual dialog (at least, as Mabel remembered it) to recreate moments in her life.

 

What are your goals for the reading?

 

My number one goal is to entertain the audience. I’d also like to hear the dialog, get feedback for a re­write, and find out if my gender­ neutral casting idea is going to work.

 

What are you most looking forward to? What are you most nervous about?

 

I am most looking forward to the rehearsal, and possibly doing some last minute­dialog changes during the rehearsal. I’m most nervous about the timing, and making cuts if the piece runs longer than expected.

 

What advice would you give to playwrights who might be interested in joining One Acts and Snacks?

 

Come out and hear a few of the readings this season, meet the producers and get an idea of the kind of work they are looking for!

 

Portrait of Mabel will premiere as part of One Acts and Snacks debut show of Season Three, September 17th at 6pm in Ditmis Park. Purchase tickets here.