Director Haley Murphy and young playwright Emma Choi talk about their Fringe show.
How did you two meet?
Haley Murphy: Across a crowded elementary school gym. Emma was my stage manager when she was in 6th grade
Emma Choi: We were doing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
What do you feel is important for a director-writer collaboration?
HM: Snacks. And lots of communication, lots of trying things out.
EC: Communication is probably my number one too. Also, trust. I know as a writer there’s a point at which I need to step back and let the director take over, and letting someone else progress your creative vision takes not only a lot of communication but a lot of trust that they’ll do it right. Also snacks.
Haley, how is directing a new work different than directing a published play?
HM: Any artistic collaboration, especially one that is focused on developing a work from scratch, forces each person to allow for the unexpected greater good. My ideas are a starting point, not an end point.
Why Capital Fringe for J-Swizzle?
HM: Fringe is a glorious opportunity not just for experimenting artistically and presenting new works, but for finding a way to engage with the DC community in new and meaningful ways. Swizzle is, at its heart, a story that we need right now, that can be shared with every kind of audience member. It’s about the inner 13 year old in all of us, it’s about dreams, and more than anything it’s about the importance of real friendships. It’s also about magic bagels and demon lamination machines, so there’s something for everyone.
EC: Being in DC I think is also such a special opportunity since there’s been so much going on recently. It’s a really cool thing to be able to be right in the epicenter of the chaos and put on a show that promotes laughter, friendship, and love. Like Haley, I also really love the Fringe community and the kind of ragtag, anything goes type of theatre they make a home for. I especially think Fringe is a great starting point for J-Swizzle since it’s such a bizarre show and Fringe is usually a hot spot for that kind of show.
I find J-Swizzle, as a reader, a really surprising play. What made the two of you want to tell this story?
HM: I work extensively with young people and we are often exploring their views on the world, their emotions, and certainly the nature and importance of their relationships. Swizzle captures both the speci?cally ridiculous and the deeply personal nature of friendship at this age.
Emma, your writing deals with questions of identity, friendship, and belief. How do you feel like these big ideas fit with a comedic and absurd play?
EC: I mean, just the process of growing up is such an absurd experience in itself. I’m entering my Senior year of high school next year and when I look back at my childhood the stuff I did to fit in or stand out seems so ridiculous to me now. Putting all of the Big Life Questions we ask ourselves in a different, comedic light I think can be reassuring because it reminds us really how insignificant everything is in the larger scheme of things.
What do you hope your audience leaves with?
HM: One of our fabulous door prizes! And a smile. And maybe a little more hugging. Depending on who they go with.
Haley Murphy is the founder of Dodgeball Theatre and currently resides in Great Falls, Virginia.