21st Century Voices Interview with Playwright Alyson Mead

December 31, 2018

As 2018 comes to an end we’re looking forward to kicking off the new year with new plays! Our 21st Century Voices: New Play Festival will run January 3rd-6th featuring five staged readings and talkbacks with playwrights from all over the country. Here’s an interview with playwright Alyson Mead whose play THE FLORA AND FAUNA will be presented on Saturday January 5th at 2pm.

Synopsis of THE FLORA AND FAUNA

Ginnie and Adele’s friendship was forged under a dark secret. But 28 years later, an inescapable event puts them both in jeopardy again. Can they help each other move on from loss before it’s too late?

What are you most looking forward to about 21st Century Voices?

Fresh eyes and fresh voices are always great, for any playwright, so the work doesn’t become stale while it’s still in process. I’m also looking forward to seeing the work of other playwrights, and getting to know everyone. Since writers usually work alone, that’s pretty great.

What inspired you to write this play?

When news of the Stanford rape trial and Brock Turner came out, I was stunned, outraged and very, very sad for all the victims that had lived throughout history not seeing justice. Emily Doe’s letter, read aloud during the trial, was incredibly moving to me, and one line from that letter inspired the title of my play, and the play itself.

What has the life of your play been like thus far?

It’s been amazing. Within weeks of finishing it, two theater companies stepped up to offer me staged readings, and then I won the Bridge Initiative’s New Play Award and the Henley-Rose Playwriting Award after that. Since then, it’s been non-stop, with staged readings and offers of production that are still coming together.

What do you hope to gain from having a director and actors work with your piece?

I always look for new perspectives. New directors and actors show me different things about the play each time it’s read. So I hope to gain that new perspective as the play moves toward production.

What would you like to gain from having an audience hear your play?

I love to watch and listen to audiences experiencing this play, because it’s non-traditionally structured, but very emotional. Audiences so far have been filled with people, men and women, who are only too willing to share their own experiences, which I didn’t expect. Many women have emailed me after hearing the play to tell me that it gave them the courage to tell someone about their own sexual assaults, which they’d previously kept hidden out of shame. That the play can offer this to audiences has been a real gift to me.

What do you want people to take away from your play?

That sexual assault isn’t just about the moments it’s occurring, but the years that follow. Since we’re all imperfect beings, there is no one right way to interact with survivors, but we can become more compassionate toward each person’s chosen journey toward wellness, and more tolerant about our shared imperfections as we heal

What are your hopes for the future life of your play?

Wonderful, high-level productions around the country and in Europe.

Do you have any advice for aspiring playwrights?

I’m surprised how many students I meet don’t go to theatre performances, or read plays. Go see a lot of stuff. Read a lot of stuff (get plays from the library if you don’t have a lot of money). And live a lot of life. Be a shameless eavesdropper, to hear the rhythms in people’s speech. Notice what people leave out, as much as what they put into conversation. Mostly, get used to failing. Playwriting has the operative root in its name – play. It should be fun, not drudgery. It should be a space for experimentation, not blind adherence to “rules.”

Visit americanstage.org/new for more info and tickets to our 21st Century Voices: New Play Festival.

Individual Tickets: $10 per reading

All-Access Pass: $40 General Public | $30 American Stage Subscribers & Act 1 Club Members*

*Subscribers & Act 1 Club Members need to call box office for offer.