This week we’ll look at Romeo & Juliet‘s The Nurse, who is Juliet’s servant, guardian and former wet nurse. In the play, Juliet is supposed to be 13 years old. The action takes place shortly before Juliet’s upcoming birthday.
Imagine being 13 years old and still having to hang out with your old wet nurse.
The Nurse first appears in the poem Romeus and Juliet from 1562, which Shakespeare stole from served as Shakespeare’s basis for his play.
The Nurse acts as a kind of go-between between the two leads. She helps set them up. She also provides a counterpoint to Juliet and Romeo’s idealized spiritual whatever thing they have. For her, love seems to be more about physical pleasure:
“I am the drudge, and toil in your delight, / But you shall bear the burden soon at night” (II.5.75-76)
She’s telling this to a 13 year old.
For an in-depth analysis of The Nurse’s character, there is this video:
And here is the monologue itself:
NURSE: Even or odd, of all days in the year, Come Lammas Eve at night shall she be fourteen. Susan and she (God rest all Christian souls!) Were of an age. Well, Susan is with God; She was too good for me. But, as I said, On Lammas Eve at night shall she be fourteen; That shall she, marry; I remember it well. ‘Tis since the earthquake now eleven years; And she was weaned (I never shall forget it), Of all the days of the year, upon that day; For I had then laid wormwood to my dug, Sitting in the sun under the dovehouse wall. My lord and you were then at Mantua. Nay, I do bear a brain. But, as I said, When it did taste the wormwood on the nipple Of my dug and felt it bitter, pretty fool, To see it tetchy and fall out with the dug! Shake, quoth the dovehouse! ‘Twas no need, I trow, To bid me trudge. And since that time it is eleven years, For then she could stand high-lone; nay, by th’ rood, She could have run and waddled all about; For even the day before, she broke her brow; And then my husband (God be with his soul! ‘A was a merry man) took up the child. ‘Yea,’ quoth he, ‘dost thou fall upon thy face? Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit; Wilt thou not, Jule?’ and, by my holidam, The pretty wretch left crying and said ‘Ay.’ To see now how a jest shall come about! I warrant, an I should live a thousand years I never should forget it. ‘Wilt thou not, Jule?’ quoth he, And, pretty fool, it stinted and said ‘Ay.’
“Lydia Valentine is a poet, playwright, and educator who believes in the power of good, the healing capacity of writing and reading, and the necessity of the Oxford comma. A passionate advocate for equity and social justice, proud mom, and card-carrying Blerd, Lydia grew up in Aliquippa, Pa, a small, steel mill town north of Pittsburgh, where she spent many hours of her youth at B.F. Jones Library.”
“She now lives, reads, and writes in another gritty city, Tacoma, WA, where she has been runner-up for Tacoma Poet Laureate twice. Lydia has recently completed her first play, Aliquippa, which has had readings at empathos company, and has been Assistant Director and Dramaturg for play productions with Toy Boat Theatre Company, empathos company, UW-Tacoma, and Tacoma Little Theatre.”
She has crafted an incredibly deep, heartfelt play set entirely in her hometown.
The play focuses on the Lockwood family:
There’s only one character who isn’t a blood relation.
The play starts with Naomi, a woman stuck in a type of twilight zone due to past misdeeds and happenstance. Her own mother (Mama Shirl) barely acknowledges her. Same with her own daughter, Rachel. One could say she’s a loser in a hero sandwich. Mama Shirl is the ultimate survivor. Rachel is hopeful to return to school to finish her college degree. Both women have their lives in relative order. Naomi does not. The following is what happens when she calls her daughter.
Calls her own daughter a heifer. And again…
I don’t blame Rachel for not wanting to talk to her mother. Sometimes Naomi takes care of Rachel’s son Tamir. She does the best she can. Naomi also dreams of opening a commuity center in town.
The play really swings into motion when Tamir gets bullied and attacked on account of his race. Naomi and Rachel’s reactions reveal the generation gaps that exist in the play and provide much of the conflict:
So…racism in American elementary schools is totally real.
Isaac and Oscar’s dialogue/reality lesson continues:
Naomi goes off on her mother, Mama Shirl, when Mama Shirl mentions Rachel’s early plan to be a doctor and things didn’t quite turn out like that.
Naomi does a good job of upending religious hypocrisy, where people can pick and choose what God’s plan is and what’s someone just screwing up.
Rachel relates when Mama Shirl caught her trying a beer.
There’s some good-natured sibling rivalry between Rachel and Isaac. Isaac is the family member everyone seems to have their hopes pinned on. He’s a college football star and has plans for the NFL. In reality, only 1.5 percent of college players ever make an NFL roster.
Aliquippa is kinda famous for producing NFL players like Hall of Famers Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, and Ty Law, as well as Darrell Revis.
There is some engaging banter between Rachel and Oscar.
Another Isaac zinger:
The main thing audiences and readers should know is that Aliquippa was once a small, yet economically robust steel mill town. This lasted for most of the 20th Century until the mill finally closed in 1984. A quick look at the town’s historical population can give some clues:
When your town has 1/3 of the population it had 90 years ago, your town might be in trouble.
One cool theatrical device the play uses is the freezing of time. Naomi is asking to borrow money from her daughter. The play uses this instance to freeze action and time.
Rachel is then free to comment on the situation.
Later, Mama Shirl’s sancto self gets served by Naomi.
Maybe this limbo that Naomi lives in isn’t entirely her own doing. Naomi isn’t done unloading on Mama Shirl.
As much as the play explores the dynamics that made Naomi the woman she is today, the present-day takes over. Oscar has something horrible to report.
Isaac caught a stray bullet.
From tragedy, comes some type of positivity. Several family members are able to move forward with the community center they were planning. Rachel also makes peace with Naomi and is almost set to go to the West Coast for school. Naomi is kinda, sorta closer to making peace with Mama Shirl.
Some really cool things about this play:
Theatricality. Already mentioned above, the play plays (hehe) with time and memory to create a theatrical experience.
Local flavor aka local color. This is a tradition that hearkens back to writers like Bret Harte, Frances E.W. Harper and Charles W. Chesnutt, where a work of literature is rooted in a specific time, place and culture. In Valentine’s work, we inhabit the world of a family in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. The play even uses local terminology such as “Quip” “jitney” and “PennDot.” We can feel life in the dying steel town. This is reminiscent also of the work of Stacey Bryan, Yolanda Mendiveles and Benjamin Gonzales, all of whom have been featured on this blog.
Issues of the day. Not only does the play address racism, the Rust Belt, and police violence, but there is a gender role subplot regarding Tamir, who likes his hair long and dresses up like a cowgirl.
This causes some conflict among the different women in Tamir’s life. He also plays with Pony Princesses.
4. Uniqueness. Slice-of-life dramas depicting African American families are sorely lacking on the American stage. This would be welcome relief from the bazillionth community college production of The Mousetrap.
Ms. Valentine was kind enough to answer some questions for us.
1. How did you start playwriting?
I have always been a fan of theater and have taught many plays to my students, but it was not until I applied to Goddard College’s MFA in Creative Writing program that I considered delving into dramatic writing. I am primarily (and have always thought of myself as) a poet. However, I decided that if I was going to get direct instruction in craft, I wanted to take a shot with a new genre.
2. What are your influences?
My biggest influences are my experience as a Black woman and mother and the fact that for too long the narrative of those who are usually marginalized, silenced, or ignored (BIPOC, the LGBTQIA community, women, etc.) has been crafted and told by others. There is a short allegory that I find striking in relation to this.
The young boy went to his grandfather and said, “Grandfather, is it true that the lion is the king of the jungle?”
“Yes,” said the old man, “but why do you ask?”
“Well,” said the boy, “in all the stories that I read and even in the ones I hear, man will always defeat the lion. So, how can this be true?”
The old man looked his grandson in the eyes and said, “It will always be that way, my son, until the lion tells the story.”
In terms of writing, I am definitely influenced by August Wilson, whose plays celebrated the everyday experiences of Black people and were all set in Pittsburgh, where he grew up. I am from Aliquippa, a small city just north of Pittsburgh, so Wilson has long been on my radar. Other playwrights I consider to be influential are Lynn Nottage, Dominique Morrisseau, Kirsten Greenidge, Henrik Ibsen, and Shakespeare.
3. What is your most memorable production and why?
(In terms of my play, Aliquippa, I have had several readings, and all of them are memorable, but two stand out in particular. When I first finished the script, we had a closed reading for which my sister, daughter, son, nephew, and I provided the cast. It was incredibly poignant for me to hear my words brought to life by these people who are so important to me. The other one was a larger reading with actors we’d cast. Watching the audience respond to this story and these characters convinced me that this play was one to which anyone could connect.)
I worked on a production of Clybourne Park as the Dramaturg and Assistant Director for Toy Boat Theatre in conjunction with the University of Washington Tacoma. This was a memorable experience because the cast and production team gelled as a family. Rehearsals were full of levity and intensity in equal measure. I love to laugh. There were no egos or prima donna moments. The most important thing was bringing the story to the stage. There are very dark comedic elements that resonated with many in the audience, in particular those of us who have long had to keep our sense of humor to get through trying times. Also, because the play deals with themes of dislocation and gentrification, there were parallels for what is happening in Tacoma right now.
4. What is your least memorable production and why?
The one that hasn’t happened yet! I have been submitting Aliquippa to festivals and calls for plays, but I have not yet had any success. So many venues require a script to be submitted by an agent, so that leaves me out of the running.
5. What’s your funniest theatre story?
I co-adapted the script of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House with Marilyn Bennett and served as Assistant Director for the production, which was staged as a part of Tacoma Little Theatre’s 100th season. After the show on opening night, a member of the Board of Directors said a few words to the audience, then invited Marilyn to speak, and after that called me forward. I am fairly shy and also autistic, so not only was I mortified but also the first words out of my mouth were, “Well, this is mortifying.” In retrospect, I think it’s pretty funny, but at the time I felt a little bad when I saw the look on the board member’s face at my pronouncement.
6. What are your writing habits like?
I wish that I could say that I write in the morning during my almost two-hour commute to work and again on the trip home. I take the train or bus for that specific purpose (and also to avoid the stress of navigating the traffic on I-5). I’m not a morning person, though, so I am barely able to form coherent thoughts that early, and in the evening, after teaching all day, I usually just pull up a game on my phone and listen to an audiobook until I get home. My best writing time is late at night. I curl up in my giant, cushy armchair and type away. Unfortunately, I have to go to bed pretty early, so I have been scheduling writing dates with friends and my sister because being around other creatives always gives me the boost I need to write.
7. What advice do you have for new playwrights?
The best advice that I have been given was from one of my advisors at Goddard, Darrah Cloud, who also happens to be a poet and playwright. After reading my very first attempt at starting Aliquippa, Darrah told me, “Stop writing this as if it’s fiction. It’s not. Write it like poetry.” What I took away from that was to listen to the voices of the characters and let them tell the story that they were trying to tell.
8. Who are some other writers you feel should get more attention?
Playwrights Christina Anderson (How to Catch Creation), Kirsten Greenidge (Luck of the Irish), and Donte Felder, who has produced several plays in the Seattle area. His next production, Blerds Comics and Cafe, which leans into speculative fiction and explores the nuances of the comic book world, gun control, and race, will premiere in the fall of 2021.
9. What are common themes in your work?
Family and familial love are big themes for me, whether related to actual family units or the found families that we create for ourselves. I am somewhat fixated on the collective loss and grief that impacts the physical, emotional, and mental health of Black people, as well as the intersectionality of various identities (race, gender, queerness, neurodiversity, class).
10. What is one thing you wished you knew now, that you didn’t know starting out?
I wish I knew more about the ways to get a play from page to stage and which options for getting plays out into the world were the best ways.
11. How autobiographical is Aliquippa?
While it takes place in my hometown, Aliquippa is not autobiographical at all. At the same time, I can recognize aspects of myself – often amplified – in each character: Naomi’s fierce love for her family, Rachel’s tendency toward seeing things in black and white, Mama Shirl’s faith, Isaac’s optimism, Oscar’s loyalty, and Tamir’s naive pragmatism.
12. What have the audience reactions to Aliquippa been like?
The response has been positive! While on paper, Tacoma is similar to Pittsburgh demographically, the ethos of the Pacific Northwest is vastly different from that Western Pennsylvania, so I was wary of what the response would be as I’ve workshopped it here, because I did and do not want it to be misunderstood. However, the feedback of audience members from a variety of backgrounds has been that they can relate to these characters despite what are – at times – quite different circumstances, and that is gratifying.
13. What have been the biggest obstacles in getting Aliquippa a full production?
Three things come to mind: time, money, and connections, with time being the biggest of the three obstacles. I am a full time teacher in Seattle, and I live in Tacoma. I’ve already talked about my gnarly commute. I’d love to have the time to focus on making the connections and obtaining the funds to find the right space, fill out the roster of actors and production team, compensate those involved, market, etc. Chevi Chung of empathos company is doing a phenomenal job shepherding me through various stages of the process, but my ability to make progress is hampered by only having fits and starts of time.
It’s interesting that you mention this play because I did not have any familiarity with it until one of my students did a presentation on Angelina Weld Grimké and Rachel just a few months ago. While I have not read the play myself, I do not feel as if they are that similar based on what I know of Rachel. Both of my thesis advisors made comparisons to Lorraine Hansberry’s Raisin in the Sun, and I am incredibly humbled to have Aliquippa even mentioned in the same sentence as Raisin. “Lydia Valentine has written a tour-de-force family play that rivals Raisin in the complexity of its characters, the pain of its situation, and the beauty of the writing. I do not make that comparison lightly. Hansberry is a hero of American letters, and I see the same potential in Lydia to write people onto the stage from whom we have not heard before, and to make the most seemingly mundane conflicts central and epic.”- Darrah Cloud
15. What are you currently working on?
I have two new plays I am working on concurrently. One explores the experience of being a black autistic woman, and the other is a one-act centering on a found family of three socially awkward, female or gender queer superheroes.
Thanks so much for chatting with us, Lydia! I think we’d all love a play about socially awkward, gender queer superheroes.
We here at Unknown Playwrights have found a wee Valentine’s Day play from 1916 from a writer who seemed to have led a much more interesting life outside writing children’s plays. More on that later. But now, the play’s the thing.
I can see this story has been influenced by the folklore of another commercial holiday.
It turns out there’s a Sir Valentine who lives nearby and is responsible for cruel tricks on Valentine’s Day. Like that time in junior high when I got a rose from someone who didn’t put their name on the card and all the kids made fun of me and said I ordered it myself. And my name was misspelled. That’s Sir Valentine’s fault.
I don’t like this Sir Valentine chap at all.
The elves ask the child to make a Valentine’s Day card for her mom which is sweet and touching and reminds me how confused I was as a kid when I learned kids got Valentine’s Day gifts for their moms. It kinda makes sense, considering where I grew up.
That’s kinda sweet.
Mom’s gonna love that massive valentine!
The author, Frances Gillespy Wickes, had an interesting career that went beyond children’s plays. Here are some basics:
The average lifespan of these friends was 83.8 years. The average lifespan of an American born in 2020 is estimated to be 78.93 years. Interesting, huh? If we factor in Wickes’ age with her friends’, it’s 84.45 years. Why did Wickes’ friends from over 100 years ago lived longer than an American born now? Obviously it’s because they were friends with a children’s playwright. Discuss.
Editor’s note: This post was written by our guest blogger, playwright Steven G. Martin.
In this post, we profile Indianapolis-based playwright Megan Ann Jacobs!
According to her website, Megan is “a quirky, nerdy, optimistic story-teller, always on the hunt for a new creative outlet.” She works is the property manager of the upcoming project in Indianapolis, which she calls “a truly legendary undertaking taking place in the former Coke-a-Cola bottling factory.”
An older woman named Anita is asleep at her typewriter. Sebastian, a man in his 20s, wakes her. She is upset at her lack of progress in writing a book, while he is more upset that she is in poor health. They both know she will die soon, and the book will go unfinished. Anita encourages Sebastian to move on.
You are now and will forever be my muse. But I can’t always be your instrument. I need you to promise me you will not let our story die. It’s the best one yet.
Exactly, it’s the best one. I thought it for you, not someone else.
Then keep thinking it for me. And when you are done, look for me on the pages. I promise you I will be there. Please, find this girl and finish our tale. Promise me.
(It takes great strength, but he concedes.) I promise.
And just like that, Megan catapults the audience into a world where Greek mythology is very much alive and literal, and modern-day authors reap the benefit.
A young lawyer named Nikki rents Anita’s former apartment, which several people believe to be haunted. She meets Sebastian, who insists she leave – guess who’s been doing the haunting to scare away the previous tenants? Nikki calls the police, but no good comes of it. Sebastian tells Nikki that he is a muse. He plans to get her to leave the apartment, just like he forced out the others who came after Anita.
Nikki’s problems don’t stop with Sebastian, either. She recently called off her wedding with Ryan and has moved out of the apartment they had lived in. The relationship is on hold, although Ryan supports Nikki … but then Sebastian interferes. Through a series of text messages and phone calls, Tyler – the apartment building’s landlord – is caught by Ryan in Nikki’s apartment while Nikki herself is in a bathrobe.
Who was that?
Why was he here?
I honestly don’t know how it happened.
Why was he holding you…in your robe?
He was crying, and he just sort of grabbed me. The robe was just an unfortunate circumstance.
You made your landlord cry?
No, no! I was helping him get over his ex.
Helping him how?
Yes, helping him how?
I know it looks bad, but come on. You can’t really think-
Ryan is almost assuaged, and he and Nikki begin to make out, which insults Sebastian. Sebastian threatens to hurt Ryan, which causes Nikki to call out Sebastian’s name and … well, more complications ensue. Ryan leaves Nikki in her apartment, not quite as supportive.
Nikki breaks down and accuses Sebastian of making life even more difficult after the recent death of her twin sister.
Some people believe twins have a special bond, and, at least for us, that was true. Year after year my sister and I would make these crazy plans to move out together, go to college, and find our respective prince charmings. We understood each other in a way that didn’t require words. She knew all my secrets and I knew all her dreams. Then we grew up. Ryan proposed to me. I was going to be moving out right after the wedding. Susan was my maid of honor. But two days before the wedding, I was getting ready for bed when she called out to me: “Nikki.” It was the one word she could say perfectly. “Nikki,” she called. I got out of bed and walked over to her. She pushed herself up and kissed my forehead. It must have taken everything she had to do that. I told her I loved her too. Then I went to sleep…just like that…It was as if she knew this was goodbye. When I woke up she was gone.
Nikki, I’m sorry. It’s never easy-
And do you know what the worst part was? I slept through the night. I didn’t wake up in a hot sweat. I didn’t have a nightmare. There was no cold chill. I kept sleeping. It wasn’t until I went to wake her the next morning that I knew. I was so close. Maybe if I would have woken up, I could have done something.
But Sebastian understands loss, too, after being a muse for dozens of artists throughout the world.
Losing someone is awful enough, trust me, you don’t want a pestilent timer ticking in your ear,
reminding you of what little time you have left with the ones you love.
Nobody knows how much time you have left.
I do! Do you want to know the real reason the muses left this world? It was because they could not stand the pain of losing companion after companion. For years and years they harbored this pain, but eventually they could not bear it anymore. I was the only one stupid enough to take one of their roles. They warned me not to go, but I didn’t listen. I wanted to share my stories. So, I came up with a plan. I begged the gods for a tool, something that would spare me the pain of the other muses. Chronos was the only one to step forward, and he presented me with this watch. It would attach to the life of my instrument, and it would tell me how long they had. I would stay with my companion until my watch told me that they had ten years left. Then I would leave. No exceptions. But it still hurt. It put a timer on everything and everyone. But at least I didn’t have to watch anyone die.
Nikki and Sebastian fight about who has had it worse, but Anita’s ghost appears during the aftermath. She points out to Sebastian that Nikki has the drive and intelligence to be a writer. Sebastian agrees that he probably is meant to be Nikki’s muse, and he attempts a reconciliation by threatening to tell her how long she has left to live.
Nikki writes a draft to the ending of the book, which she finds therapeutic as it allows her to let go of the past. She questions whether Sebastian’s watch robs him of the future and the time he spends with the artists he inspires.
I need it though. Otherwise, I won’t know when to leave.
Exactly, you won’t know.
But I have a rule-
Since when do you care about rules? And don’t forget, you made an exception.
And I paid the price!
But you have some great memories from those years, don’t you?
Would you trade those for anything?
Not a thing.
Then what are you waiting for, Sebastian? Break the watch and embrace the fact, that for once, you won’t define the life of those you love in minutes and hours. You can start defining them in memories. And we can start right now, together.
If you do it, I will help you. We can finish this book together. Our first memory in the now. Come on, Sebastian, break the watch.
Sebastian stares at his watch. He slowly takes it off his wrist. With one last encouraging look from Nikki he grabs the frying pan and smashes the watch. He stands almost shell-shocked.
Well, how do you feel?
I’m still here…so Chronos cannot be too livid with me. I feel…good…great, possibly even-
Let’s not get sappy.
There’s no time to get sappy. Sebastian dislikes the draft because Nikki has killed Mr. Sparkles, the family pet, thinking “it was a good symbol for change.” Although they disagree on that point, they realize how the draft of the novel will end, and both are happy.
There are further complications as Sebastian tries to fix the rift between Nikki and Ryan. But through some well-placed phone calls – including 9-1-1 – all the love stories end well, including the one between Tyler and Officer Kasey.
Does this mean we can finally set a new date for our wedding?
How about today?
Yeah! We can go to the court house right now! We already have everything we need, what are we waiting for?
Are you serious?
I’ll have to check my calendar, but I think I can squeeze that in.
A wedding! Tonight!? But that gives me almost no time to think up a toast!
Sebastian runs to the desk and starts writing desperately on a piece of paper.
Does that mean you are going to move in with me?
I’ll move in tonight!
And we’re moving?!
Sebastian runs into the room and grabs a suitcase and starts packing his books.
We are finally moving forward again. Are you sure you are okay? I don’t want to rush you. Your sister-
Couldn’t be more proud. You were right, Ryan. Moving on doesn’t mean moving away from her. She moves with me.
Which nicely sums up “aMUSEd” and its main theme: Things change. Nothing is forever, but nothing is entirely lost.
1) How did you start playwriting?
Writing and theatre have always been two cornerstones in my life. However, it wasn’t until college that I moved to combine the two and create a play. I didn’t go out to write a play, rather, an idea struck me as I looked a picture…the story that came to mind was begging to be told on the stage. I don’t think I had much choice in the mater.
2) What are your influences?
This is quite the question, as I believe influence is found everywhere. It’s in the people I know. I’m consistently inspired by moments, memories, loves, work, struggle, fear- everything can be an influencer if you are prepared to listen. I do make a conscious effort to surround myself with art of many types, as this has helped me expand my horizons and perspective.
3) What is your most memorable production and why?
In one of the last performances of the world premiere of “aMUSEd,” after the first act, there was a power outage. Two of the actors were bound for Chicago after the final weekend, so rescheduling was not an option. So for the second half, they performed in candlelight in the intimate venue. Lucky for me, there happens to be a huge storm in the show at that point. (What are the odds!) The landlord even comes up to check on the outlets, so, the actors ad-libbed a bit as needed and the show continued! Truly was the most interesting combination of incredibly horrid luck and divine intervention.
4) What is your least memorable production and why?
Perhaps, it’s simply because I’ve only had a handful of productions of my work, but they are all memorable to me in some shape and form. It does get a bit monotonous after you’ve seen it 6+ times in a matter of two weeks, but I think one of the beauties of live theatre is that every show is nuanced with differences. As an actor, director, and playwright, this is one of the most incredible things to witness.
5) What are your writing habits like?
I try to write at least a little bit a week, even if that means editing pieces. The more theatre I see, the more inspired I am to write. I’m hesitant to call any of the ways I write ‘habits,’ because I feel consistency is something I lack. Some days I stare at the screen for hours and fail to produce a page, other days I knock out a first draft in one sitting, and there is, of course, the times my laptop never even opens despite my good intentions, because I can’t get my eyes off of my current Netflix guilty pleasure. I have found that I work better when I have a deadline, so classes, readings, and submission opportunities act as a huge motivator for me.
6) What advice do you have for new playwrights?
Get your butt in the chair. The chair is at it’s most intimidating when you are first starting your piece. It stares at you, mocking you. The only way to silence it is to take it’s *insert accurate adjective for our own chair here* form and sit upon it. Even writing poorly for an hour is better than not writing at all. I think we are so conditioned to be afraid of failure and we worry that we will ruin the peaceful whiteness of the blank page with our words. Ultimately, any words, even ones that you lament about later and revise, make that paper more interesting than it was before. There are no perfect plays. There are no perfect playwrights. In fact, the only thing successful playwrights have in common is the mountain of ‘failure’ that now is the foundation of the mountain where they sit.
7) Who are some other writers you feel should get more attention?
I’ve recently had the pleasure of coordinating a table reading for Marcia Eppich-Harris. While she is still developing her first piece for the stage, that’s a name you will want to look out for, as she has talent.
8) What are the common themes in your work?
I am consistently drawn to the dramatic-comedy, where I can explore a heavy-theme (such as loss in “aMUSEd”), while still bringing the audience laugher. Other than that though, I’d say mental struggles such as anxiety, trauma, and depression always seem to find a way into my writing. Human behavior is complicated and each person is motivated by a brain full of individual experiences and complex chemical reactions and not enough people are willing to tackle those intimate issues and vulnerabilities.
9) What is one thing you wished you knew now, that you didn’t know starting out?
That once a play has a production, the options for submitting it into competitions is all but eliminated. That was one thing I regretted about the immediate success of “aMUSEd” and its ability to see the stage. I am still honored and would not take those productions back for anything, but I do wish that I would have submitted to contests before accepting production contracts. Now it is stuck in the limbo of being too accredited for contest entries and not accredited enough to get through to gain agents/publication/or most opportunities at a regional theatre.
10) Can you please tell us about Indy Fringe?
Indy Fringe is a 15-year-old organization that focuses on providing opportunities for artists of all kinds to perform or see their work performed. It has several festivals throughout the year, the most popular being the Indy Fringe Festival, which is a reasonable pay-to-play uncensored opportunity to get your work performed. It’s a fun-filled 10-day festival that draws attention from across the country. During the rest of the year, Indy Fringe provides a location at a reasonable price to work on your pieces and host performances. It also makes it its mission to bring in traveling acts to further raise the artistic credibility of Indianapolis.
11) What’s a question you’d like to be asked? Go ahead and answer that question.
How could you get in touch with me? You can find out more about me and my shows at www.meganjacobstheatre.com. There is even a place where you can contact me directly!
Howdy all! Happy Halloween! Welcome back to Unknown Playwrights. This Halloween (just like last Halloween) we’re bringing you a Halloween play from the era of when tricks were given more than treats.
They also had cooler postcards, too.
Let’s see what we’re up against today.
Fair enough. I’ve done a lot of looking online and I can’t find a whole lot about the author. She was born in 1869 and died in 1947. She seems to have spent her whole life in Ohio. She had six brothers and sisters. The most interesting thing to me is that amongst 5 girls in the family only one seems to have married. And among all the sibllings, it seems only one or two married. I wish I knew what that was about. Even the Brontë sisters got married. More on Koogle later. Let’s meet our cast.
Tarrytown…yes, thatTarrytown. Let’s check out the scenes:
Poor Nell has been stuck in her room for a week. She’s been grounded – apparently seminaries could ground their female students back in 1906. She was grounded for a “prank” and she’s got three days left on her sentence. Her friends Verda, Bess, Gloria, Gail, Freida & Gwendolin show up. Nell has been “ill” with a headache. She tells them not to worry…
Don’t worry or them wrinkles will get you! Also, it’s wrong to be hypocritical and hypercritical.
The girls decide they should do something spooky for Halloween, but Bess sees a problem.
She has a point. I love that the boys they’re after are seminary boys.
Nell suggests they go to…Sleepy Hollow.
Bess reminds us of who lives in Sleepy Hollow.
These guys seem cool.
Take note: Fictional male characters in 1906 Halloween plays want a woman as handsome as she is venturesome.
Miss Noesome’s seminary gals are the finest! And Glo Gould is a whole sugarplum!
In what appears to be the prelude to a hazing ritual, the “ghosts” show up to obey their ghost master.
Moans, groans and hisses…
More hazing. Nell is then asked her name.
I like how the description of the ghost sounds devolve to “Moans, etc. (Emphatic)”
Time to tie up the girls (and Tom)! The boys/ghosts take them to the cave.
Did she say beautiful cave? I know the most beautiful cave in the world.
And hot damn! Napoleon shows up and so does Rip Van Winkle.
And amongst the ghosts of fictional and real-life people, a goddamned German doctor shows up. Because. Because? Oh, he wants their blood!
“Vat iss dies sch*t? Vat die aktuelle fock?”
And Major André shows up.
“Young folks laugh” = play was written by an old person. And that other inhabitant of Sleepy Hollow pops up.
Among the ghosts, the Headless Horseman is a loser. Hehe.
And for some reason a Native American female shows up. Maybe she’s a ghost because of all the Native Americans white Americans killed.
And I know “squaw” is an offensive term that isn’t even found in any Native American language. But it’s found in this sad little play.
Eventually, the girls get scared and go back to their seminary.