Next up, we hear from Laylah Muran de Assereto, one of our writers this year, who was one of our directors for PlayOffs 2016 and its predecessor, Sheherezade's Last Tales.
Which play did you write for PlayOffs this year?
I wrote Shaving Bees a meet-cute romantic comedy.
What inspired this particular play?
The play was originally written for Wily West’s collaborative project Superheroes, eight playwrights wrote 114 short plays in six weeks and produced about 14 of them as an evening of shorts. Bees wasn’t selected for the production, so I dusted it off and did some cleaning up before submitting it for the Playoffs Round 1 this year. I read an article about the efforts to understand bee colony die-offs, apparently scientists in Australia attach tiny trackers to bees, and sometimes they have to shave the bees legs (really!) in order to attach the devices. I had created a couple of child characters in another short piece about a planned kitten-heist gone wrong - an admittedly very silly premise - so I thought what happened if they ran into each other in an unexpected place as adults. Shaving Bees was the result.
What for you is the most challenging aspect of writing a play? What is the most fun/rewarding aspect?
Simplifying the script. I’m always trying to do too much in my first few drafts. I have these incredibly layered ideas and I have to find the things to let go of, but it feels like I’m carving up a pet. Then I find something to start with and it becomes much easier. But those first few cuts are torture. In the writing process I love finding a connection I didn’t originally intend, but ends up solving a problem or opens up a new possibility. Honestly the most rewarding aspect, though is sitting in the house with the actors on stage and feeling the audience connect to something I’ve written. That starts with the director and the actors “getting it” in rehearsal, but it culminates with the audience connecting in performance. Nothing makes me happier than hearing someone gasp or laugh or make some kind of acknowledgement that they recognized a situation or sentiment in my play.
What other projects do you have in the works?
I am one of the playwrights included in The Grateful Deadly a short play anthology going up in March at the Exit, directed by Dan Wilson and produced by Miyoko Sakatani. I am also working on the next script for the web series Syd’s Stars produced by Entropy Productions, episode two is in post production and should be coming out soon. As the Artistic Director for Spare Stage I’m directing the Explorations reading series, we just presented A Place with the Pigs by Athol Fugard featuring Karl Schackne and Genevieve Perdue and we will be presenting Playland also by Fugard in January and Love All by Dorothy L Sayers in April with a series of new plays later in the year. We’re also in workshop development for Jennifer Lynne Robert’s The Killing Jar which includes Madison Worthington (who is acting in my play in PlayOffs this year) and we will be presenting a concert performance workshop of Jerome Joseph Gentes and Rice Major’s new musical The Right Note next year. I have a couple of full length plays I’m working on along the way, one for the SF Olympians Festival next year about the Capitoline Trinity, and another full length that’s a Dungeons and Dragons inspired send up of the Manchurian Candidate.
Anything else you'd like to share with us?
Just that I hope to see full houses at PlayOffs and looking forward to the TBA Awards at the end of the month where last year’s show is nominated again for Outstanding Anthology. Oh and get out there and vote in 2018 mid-term elections!
Get your early-bird tickets for Shaving Bees and the rest of our plays here!