Is this your first Sheherezade?
Which play did you write? What's it about?
I wrote THE BOX, which is about a spirited young woman who talks her nervous, buttoned-down male buddy into helping her break into a museum at night. She'd hidden a box there as a young girl and has a burning need to retrieve it, immediately. Complications ensue.
What was your inspiration for the play?
My inspiration for the play came from running out of time. I submitted the original version of THE BOX as an audition play for the PlayGround Writer's Pool, with very little lead time. I was determined to make the midnight deadline, but by eight o'clock that night I still was clueless as to what to write a play about. Out of desperation I played an improv game with myself: Who, Who, Where, What. I created two characters (Gina and Justin) and put them somewhere (a museum basement) doing something (crawling on their hands and knees). Then I started typing so that they could talk to each other, and the story unfolded organically. I hit "Send" at 11:55 p.m. Oh, and yes, the audition was successful. But because PlayGround is designed to generate new work each month based on specific prompts, I knew that THE BOX would never be produced there. So I revised it and submitted it to Sheherezade 14.
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.
These experiences happen to me all the time. It's so easy to jump to conclusions! And it's certainly easy to project scenarios that are real in our own minds but that aren't true for the other people involved. We think people are angry at us, but they may be preoccupied with a problem or coping with indigestion. We think someone loves us according to a model we have for how that should work and then get surprised when the behaviors don't add up to fit our fantasies. I think grifters succeed when they can sniff out those internal stories and re-enact them. They don't have to fool us. We fool ourselves. Sometimes I wonder if there actually is an objective reality, or if it's just all of us out here dreaming our way through our sensory experiences.
What has participating in Sheherezade meant to you?
This is the first time I've had a play fully staged, and I've greatly appreciated the developmental work that has been part of the process in working with Wily West Productions. We had two readings—one with input from Suze Allen, a dramaturg—and I have to say that the play improved significantly as a result of the input from both sessions. I also had the luxury of making small adjustments during rehearsals.
What other projects are you working on? What can audiences of Sheherezade look forward to next?
I'll be writing new ten-minute plays as well as revising some of the short plays I created for this past season in PlayGround. But my top priority right now is to work on my first full-length play. It's about a woman who has spent most of her adult life deliberately living a lie and what happens when changing circumstances make the facade begin to weaken.