Jennifer Roberts is a core company member of Wily West Productions and the Playwrights' Center of San Francisco Board President. She shares with us her thoughts on SHEHEREZADE 14 and upcoming projects...
Is this your first Sheherezade?
No, but it's my second.
Which play did you write? What's it about?
I wrote Photo Dynamic Therapy, which is about grief, the ways we try to make it through to the other side of it, and the questions we ask about who we are in this limbo and who we will become once there. If we get there.
What was your inspiration for the play?
I was visiting my mother-in-law in Ohio as she was working a hospice booth at the Canfield fair. A gentleman in his seventies was working the booth with her and was talking about how he had just, like a couple days previous, finished walking the perimeter of the state of Ohio as I way of finding closure from his wife's death. Seventy years. He had rigged up a baby stroller with supplies and food and pushed it for weeks, alone, camping along the way. The idea of doing such a thing alone terrified me, but I was moved and inspired about how he challenged himself to try a new way out of grief. He also spoke about how the walk and subsequent closure on his grief, changed him. Literally. His personality went from quiet and reclusive to outgoing and social. And by social, I mean he was eagerly hitting on every woman who walked by regardless of age. I found if creepy, but his story inspiring.
An emerging theme between these plays that has really jumped out at us is reality and perception. Tell us about an experience that you thought had been one thing only to discover it was completely different.
Ha, ha! Marriage! Motherhood! Seriously. Don't get me wrong, they're both fantastic, but I was a young mother, a young wife, and my perception of being married and raising a family was it would be like playing house; the perception was more closely aligned to a 1980's sitcom show than reality.
What has participating in Sheherezade meant to you?
It's meant a production! Saying that may sound like I'm trying to be flippant or funny, but the truth is, it's hard to be a produced playwright. Sheherezade has given me the opportunity to see two of my plays fully staged (as well as eight other playwrights!) and that's no small thing. It also means I've gotten to become part of a community of playwrights who are sharing and supporting work with a company that values the playwright.
What other projects are you working on?
I'm developing a full length play with original music (composed by Rick Homan) for Wily West next year. It's a darker piece about a brother and sister, musicians, who come together to save their father from suicide. On the heels of Sheherezade, I'll have two, short plays in Wily West's SUPERHEROES this summer. "Meet Claudia" is about a woman who changes the script of her life and "Mars One Project" is about a mother who signs up for a one-way ticket to Mars. Both plays examine how we all have the capability of being our own superheroes.