Audrey Cefaly has written and is directing her new play Maytag Virgin, which opens at Quotidian Theatre Company on October 2, 2015. She is published in Best American Short Plays (Fin and Euba). Her latest play, The Gulf, recently won the 40th Annual Samuel French OOB Festival and will be published and licensed by Samuel French later this year. She is a recipient of the Maryland Individual Artist Award and a member of the Dramatists Guild. www.audreycefaly.org
Why are you a playwright?
I love the collaborative nature of playwriting. A play cannot be fully realized at the writing table. This is one of the reasons why I like to direct a lot of my own work, because I get to see that vision through all the way to the end. I love working with actors and uncovering the magic both in performance and in the text.
What type of theatre most excites you?
The kind with electricity. Silence. Tension. And there’s an art to that kind of writing. I’m interested in the idea of reducing the noise to find the vibration.
What starts a play moving in your imagination?
The idea that it’s never been done before. I’m sure my plays have plots to them, but they are so heavily character and relationship-driven that the plot is more of a device rather than a driving force. There’s plenty of roller coaster action to be had just watching a relationship form or fall apart. Maybe it’s because I come from therapists… but that’s the kind of writing that interests me. Plays like Pavilion by Craig Wright, where the whole world spins around the two characters and what they’re going to do about the pain.
WOMEN’S VOICES THEATER FESTIVAL
October 2 – November 1, 2015
Quotidian Theatre Company
at The Writer’s Center
4508 Walsh Street
Bethesda, MD 20815-6006
Details and Tickets
Do you have a favorite writing place?
I do a lot of writing in the car. That’s when the best ideas come to me and when problems get solved. The trance induced by driving that same commute every day puts me into a great head space for creation and discovery. I’m alone with my thoughts and I can drift away to fantasy and create whatever reality I want. I write all times of day and these days maybe once a week. For me, it helps to step back and think about where the script is lacking and come up with a plan for what to do next.
In between the rewrites I’m still writing, but not in the literal sense of the word. I share the pages with friends and editors and ask for feedback (jam sessions over the phone, across the miles) and I listen very carefully to their ideas, which often prove to be amazing fuel for the next go-round. It’s kind of like being on a writing team, except I’m the scribe. I’ve said many times, my writing contains the DNA of many, many voices. And I like it that way.
How did you choose this play to debut at the Festival?
My play Maytag Virgin first appeared on the stage at Atlas Performing Arts Center’s annual Intersections Festival back in 2012, in the form of 10 minute monologue. Gwydion Suilebhan had asked me to join a group of playwrights to collectively answer a prompt for pieces “exploring a collision of people of different ages, races, cultures, classes, or sexual identities.”
I resisted the idea at first because I tend to shy away from writing about identity politics. It’s not that I don’t want to be part of the conversation, but my approach is perhaps more indirect, as I believe I lack the vocabulary for those kinds of discussions. So I took a step back and realized I could approach it in a way that felt familiar to me. I chose to write a story about a Southern protestant woman and her new Catholic neighbor and the resulting tension from their close proximity and religious differences. And while the finished piece wasn’t exactly a fire starter, I felt good about it because it was well-received and it seemed like the genesis of something much bigger. So when the Women’s Voices Theater Festival opportunity came along, I realized that Maytag Virgin would be my project.
Which female playwrights have influenced your writing and how?
The first playwright I was ever exposed to outside of Shakespeare was Beth Henley. I fell in love with Crimes of the Heart. Over the years, I’ve aspired to write like her and to add to the rich stories from the South. I feel like we need more Southern voices, innovative ones that aren’t afraid to be fearless and try something new. My play The Gulf takes place entirely in a boat, in real time. Audacious as hell, I know. But it excites me because it’s unexpected and dangerous. The real challenge for me is keeping a close eye on the heart of the play while getting as close to the edge as I possibly can. In many ways it’s an experiment. Can I go this far… this far? How about this?
What’s missing from theatre today?
What are you working on now?
Maytag Virgin opens on October 2. I’m so excited. It’s going to be a gorgeous production. I have an incredible team of people bringing it to life and I could not be happier with where we are right now. I think people are going to fall in love with Lizzy and Jack. I know I have.
Answer this: “If I weren’t a playwright, I would be … “
Probably in the twitch bin somewhere. Maybe like in West Virginia. Someplace with a view, I hope.
Anything you would like to add?
Thanks for supporting Women’s Voices Theater Festival.