Two sisters. One letter. TRASH.
Our fourth competition brought “forth” two firsts!
The winner, Trash, made Arthur M. Jolly the FIRST two-time winner of Joining Sword & Pen! Trash, directed by Delia Ford*, with Violence Design by JKChoreography (Kim Fukawa* & Jay Burckhardt), featured two rotating casts. It opened 4/1&2/12 at The Side Project Theatre and ran through 5/5/12. Mr. Jolly received the Margaret W. Martin Award, which carried with it a $1000 stipend.
STAFF: Leigh Barrett* (Lighting Design), Libby Beyreis* (Production Manager), Jennifer Corcoran (Scenic Design), Matthew Cummings (Properties Design), Mary-Catherine (Kate) Mikalayunas (Assistant Stage Manager), Sara Robinson (Stage Manager), & Melissa Schlesinger (Sound Design).
Graphic Design: Jason Rosenbrook.
* denotes BWBTC ensemble member
CATCHING UP WITH PLAYWRIGHT ARTHUR M. JOLLY
What made you decide to enter the competition for a second time?
After A Gulag Mouse won, I had had such a positive experience working with the Babes that I knew I wanted to enter again.
The Inspiring Sword & Pen winner did exactly the job it was supposed to – the haunting painting “Erinyes” by Victoria Szilagyi was so evocative, so richly detailed, that I ran with it. I decided not only to use it as inspiration, but to try and find a way to use every element I could find in the painting in the play – and try, to the best of my ability, not to introduce any additional elements that weren’t present in the artwork. This led to a sparse, highly focused play – two characters, fighting in a municipal dump over a letter from their dead mother with no other set, no scenes from the past. The outfits the two women wore became important elements, the streetlight in the background, the truck dumping garbage – even the strange, hyena-like dog creatures watching from the shadows – all of these were woven into the play. I didn’t want to expand the locale; to show anything other than that culminating moment… but to stretch it out, to play it almost in real time as these two women dig down through the stratified layers of garbage to uncover the truth beneath it all.
What did you think when you won the competition?
I was pleasantly surprised when it won – I knew that with only two characters it would be an unlikely choice, if only because too many of the Babes would be left out of a production! The decision to double cast each role and have four women perform it helped, of course.
It was a challenging play to write – while the two sisters of the play are their own women with their own problems, I freely dove into some of the most antagonistic aspects of the sibling relationships of my friends and family for inspiration – while some of the most painful moments came from my own experiences in relationships with people struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. In many ways, it was cathartic to get them on paper and let someone else agonize about them instead.
Do you have a favorite memory from the development/rehearsal/production process?
For me, my favorite memory of the BWBTC premiere was walking into the Side Project Theatre and being surrounded by a fully enclosing set – the audience fenced in, with plastic bags and trash encroaching on all sides. The play was wonderful – and watching the rehearsal video of the cast whaling on each other with an oil can and laughing hysterically whenever the moment “sold” was great fun – but that immersive set (Jennifer Corcoran’s work) just told you this would be something special the moment you walked into the theatre.
What’s happened to your script since (readings, productions, publications, etc.)?
Since the BWBTC production, the play has gone on to life in other places – it was a semi-finalist for the O’Neill conference and an official selection of the Last Frontier Theatre Conference. It has had staged readings in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Houston, and Anchorage, and has been revived in Chicago by the Forget Me Not Theatre company, and most recently was produced in London at the Rosemary Branch Theatre by Indigo Iris Productions. That one was interesting – due to the very different nature of the UK waste disposal system, the play was “translated” from US to UK English, with what turned out to be hundreds of line changes to make it make sense to an English audience.
What are you working on right now?
Currently, I’m preparing for the premiere of my latest play about four 1950’s faculty wives who meet for their monthly play reading knowing one of them has betrayed another’s husband to the House UnAmerican Activities Committee… and this is the evening they’ve chosen to read Medea. It’s a wonderful mixture of drama and humor. The A.D. keeps claiming it is a dramedy, I call it “a tragedy – with funny bits.” There are no fight scenes in it, although there is a mishap with a pot of coffee. The Ithaca Ladies Read Medea opens on September 23rd in Los Angeles at the Little Fish Theatre.
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
All the details on plays and productions are at my website: www.arthurjolly.com.