by Jane Maggs
Directed by Tanner Harvey
Presented by East of Reason Theatre
Featuring Jane Maggs and Susan Kent
“I used to wake up screaming. And that just wasn’t enough anymore”. Meet Lily: a girl with an ever-present past and a present on loop, who’s committed an extremely desperate act in attempt to affect the future. A strawberry-blonde-black comedy about manipulation, responsibility, and the wrong way to get out of a rut.
JENNY YOUNG, FROM RAISING LUKE, WRITES:
I have heard good things about this company and about the artists involved and for a show is “a strawberry-blonde-black comedy about manipulation, responsibility and the wrong way to get out of a rut” sounds like an adventure worth going on.
Please read on for my interview with Jane Maggs of East Of Reason Theatre and their production of Until June
What inspired you to write this piece?
I find the idea of ‘how we come to know the things we know’ interesting. Where do our facts and beliefs come from? And once we trace back to where they came from and who they came from does that make them seem more difficult to see as impenetrable fact. To be honest I had a thought one day about how I know you are not supposed to wear black and brown together and all of a sudden it dawned on me that this was something someone has once said to me. It wasn’t fact at all. And for me, I had just always believed things like rocks are hard, winter is cold, you don’t wear black and brown together… And I know this is a frivolous thing but it just got me thinking about how someone can live their life totally based on the mantra of another human. Cause I’m a human and I never think anyone listens to anything I have to say. And if I found out they did, I would be shocked and terrified for them. Cause at least I take my own thoughts with a grain of salt… you know? And this belief was told to me by a 16 year old girl (and I didn’t even connect that until I stopped to think about it for a second). So that got me thinking about whose responsibility this kind of influence is, the listener or the talker? And what if someone did base their life around someone’s not-well-thought-out comments and then was horribly betrayed when the talker grew up and didn’t believe those things anymore. And the story grew from there and that idea became a layer among other layers but it was certainly the root thought.
Is this piece biographical in anyway? If so how?
Not really. Only in the way that it’s all about what affects me, and hopefully others, but it starts with what affects me because why else would I write it? And things that affect me, ideas that I find interesting come from somewhere inside and then you apply them in foreign situations and watch what happens. Right?
What do you hope the experience will be like for audience members?
I hope that people laugh while they are watching something that they know is being presented in a comic way but isn’t a comic story. It also isn’t a tragic story. It’s someone’s life that is comic and tragic and hilarious and disastrous and darkly intriguing in the span of a day. Like all our lives. I hope they will relate to the story.
What are you most excited about when it comes to staging the piece?
The structure is a huge part of it. I’m interested to see how that translates. The structure is like the editor on a film in that he/she is manipulating what you see when and what you find out and how much, by the choices he/she makes, and who he/she focuses on when. And in order to understand the story and the main character Lily, you have to follow why things happen when they do because what you see comes from her head and so why are we seeing this now and where does it fit in with what we saw previously. So the structure itself becomes another clue, another way in to the story. And there is a car that reverses on stage and bangs into a tree so there are film scenes mixed in there that I have been in denial about. I’m interested to see how someone else gets me out of those messes.
Who is in the cast? (tell me a little bit about them)
An amazing beyond words actor, Susan Kent. She is a tall dark haired knockout from Newfoundland. She is the funniest woman alive, and without overselling her, she can do anything onstage and breaks hearts all over the world. She has been acting for a long long time, does it all: comedy, sings, theatre, was a series regular on a TV show, lead in a feature, all. She is currently performing a solo show that she wrote called Nan Loves Jerry in the fringe. It’s flawless. So she’s alright. I, myself, am in it. I am shorter than her. In most respects. And there is a mystery man.
Do you see this piece having a life past SummerWorks?
I definitely hope so. With the 60 minute time constraint it really asks you to focus on the core of your story, which has been so valuable and I would love the freedom to flesh a few things out down the road. Also it’s a story that has come to mean so much to me. I am not finished with it, exploring it, etc. And because it is my whole focus right now it feels like the only story I have to tell, which I think is probably not true but not a bad place to be while immersed.
If you had all the funding you could imagine would it change how you have written or staged Until June ? (please expand)
Hire a producer. I have to do everything twice and everything is twice as hard because I am a bad producer. But no. It wouldn’t change how I have written. I felt very free in the writing and believe that anything you write can be done. So if I write a car reversing on stage and hitting a tree that will happen. With a lot of money you get the real deal, with less money you get the ‘creative’ deal. I like either myself.
What other writing have you done in the past?
I wrote a solo show that I workshopped and presented with Resource Centre for the Arts (LSPU Hall) in St John’s, NL. Then I moved here and was mostly perusing acting. East of Reason (our theatre company) had a show in Summerworks last year and being in the festival and seeing all the great work really inspired me to start writing more. I submitted a version of Until June to the Banff Playwright’s Colony and was accepted for this past spring and being there, surrounded by people I shouldn’t even be able to be in the same room with and hear them speak and hear their work was such an inspiring and awakening experience. This is all I want to do now. All. And partly because I love the experience I am having, and the way a good day of writing makes me feel and partly because I just want a reason to go and live in Banff for a couple of weeks again. I am working as a writer for a television production company working on a TV show in development as well.
What else has East of Reason produced?
We produced the ecstatics by Ruth Madoc Jones and Erika Hennebury in Summerworks last year and had previously produced it in Newfoundland both on the east and west coasts. We are a young spry company.
With theatre becoming more and more challenging to fund and to find audiences what keeps you doing it?
That maybe. The audience thing. It’s a part of it at least. I have always been so affected by theatre, from when I was a little girl. It has the ability to make you feel so full and alive and makes you think and relate with and to strangers, and I believe it’s so important in a world that consists of such routine (of work, TV on DVD and then bed). People get lazy (I include myself here) and it’s so much easier to sit at home and watch a movie than a piece of theatre. I think people compare the two and think: theatre is less entertaining and less accessible. I keep doing it because I think they are wrong. Theatre doesn’t have to be alienating and can still make you think, and this is a more rewarding experience, when you are asked to use your brain to contribute to your own entertainment.
And I’m not saying film doesn’t do this, depending on the film, it just doesn’t get such a bad rap. For theatre to remain true to itself and continue to be the art that it always has been doesn’t mean it can’t be a fucking great time. And so I want to prove this right. And I want to add to the great, super intelligent and to die for theatre that goes on in our community. And on a bigger level I believe so strongly that it’s important to keep it alive in our society that it comes back to if you aren’t part of the solution you are part of the problem.
A show that sounds like it will no doubt leave you with lots of laughs and an exciting look at story structure and what we all take for granted in life! I can’t wait to see it.