I'm incredibly excited to see how the special effects and intense physical action of the play come together -- there's so much visual theatricality in the play, and that can never fully be realized in a staged reading. Also, it's exciting to be working with such a creative and talented cast -- right from the initial read-thru, I could see how much depth they were bringing to the characters.
How did Hope's Last Chance start? What was the inspiration? And what was the process you went through to get this play finished?
I set out to write a scary 10-minute play for a Halloween showcase. It began with a married couple hearing screams at a bed-and-breakfast in the night. But 7 or 8 pages into it, I knew there was a lot more story opportunity than would fit in a short play, so I began to explore the history and the mystery of what happened in this haunted B&B. Since fright and laughter are both cathartic, I wanted to have a play that was funny and scary at the same time. The play had two staged readings during its one-year development, and the audiences responded well to the simultaneous sensations of fear and fun, sort of like on a roller coaster.
Hope's Last Chance has two clear questions that propel the play forward: "will Stan and Angela survive?" and "what the heck happened to cause the haunting"? Because the answers to these questions are related, they almost act as one. I felt my main job as playwright was keeping the characters focused on pursuit of the answer, and this helped me keep the plot tight throughout. But I also wanted the characters to have some strong inner (sometimes secret) needs, so that they could make additional discoveries about themselves as they unravelled the larger supernatural mystery.
What influenced you most as a writer? Was it another playwright? A teacher? A work of art?
For Hope's Last Chance, there was definitely some influence from Japanese horror movies, because they often have creepy little ghost children in them. But also plays like Blithe Spirit, or Arsenic and Old Lace, where a character like Mortimer can still make funny quips in the middle of a murderous situation. I like that 1940's romantic comedy feel, but then layering on a more sinister element of danger, so the audience is always a little off-balance as they take it all in.
I guess I'm drawn strongly to the theme of personal risk and trust -- that is, characters overcoming the innate tendency to self-protect at the cost of experiencing life. I don't consciously set out to explore this theme, but it shows up in alot of my plays. The other theme I often explore is Secrets and Honesty -- how characters hide and/or reveal themselves from others. Sometimes this leads back to the other theme of trust, so maybe its all one. In Hope's Last Chance, both these themes are key elements of the characters and the story.
What do you hope audiences will take from this production?
I want audiences to leave feeling entertained and a little exhilarated. Do I care if they're discussing any deep themes or truths that the play inspired? There are a few philosophical messages in the play, so it's a bonus if the audience thinks they're worth discussing. But it's essential that they leave thinking they had a great time.