This is Happening Now

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Jul 10, 2014 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

There’s something special about live theatre. Not only the magic of performance, but also being present for something that changes every night. Yes, the dialogue is the same, but the actors, crew, and audience make it different each night. No wonder we love it so.

And when you read plays? Well, the imagination takes over. You dream (who would be best in this role? How would s/he say this line?), arrange the stage to your liking (furniture, lights, and yes, actors), and all of a sudden, it becomes real in your mind. I love reading plays – they open a window of creativity that is like no other. When we travel, we try to see plays, visit art museums, and discover the essence of a place through the spirit of its creatives.

Recently, I read a book of four short plays, by playwright, director, and writer Meghan Brown. Entitled This is Happening Now, it includes Jack’s Last Night in Town, Birds, Ophelia, and This is Happening Now. Each play stands alone, although they pair beautifully together for a performance.

 

This is Happening Now

 

Of these plays, all of them interesting, complex, and very readable, I loved Birds and Ophelia best. Birds reminds me of Jane Urquhart (The Underpainter) and AS Byatt’s (A Stone Woman) work in liminality, with a twist of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It. It is the perfect play, for I could both imagine it, and feel it happening as I read it, as surreal as it was. No stranger to the bard, I’ve seen or read all his plays and most adaptations. But this Ophelia? Lovely, intriguing, and truly in the spirit of Shakespeare himself, a classic look at humanity. It’s at once obsessive, freeing, and a new take on a very old story. Brava to Brown for penning such an imaginative, extraordinary play.

 

Read these plays and you’ll see (and imagine) lives very different from yours, yet the common thread of universality rings true throughout.

 

We were lucky enough to catch up with Meghan Brown, and ask her about this new book of plays, her inspiration, seeing her words come to life on stage, and more. Here’s what she had to say…

 

Please tell us about your book of plays, This Is Happening Now...

This Is Happening Now is a collection of four one-acts, designed to be performed together or separately. The collection is comprised of Jack's Last Night in Town, a relationship piece, Birds, a monologue about a young girl who is the only girl left in a town full of animals, Ophelia, a retelling of the Hamlet/Ophelia story (now with more swearing!), and This Is Happening Now, a movement-based piece exploring the passage of time, the inevitability of death, and the joy of really, really bad tattoos.

 

What inspired you to write these plays?

They came out of absolute nowhere. Our theater company had booked the space before I'd even started writing, which added some pressure -- it was a great exercise in creativity (and, uh, writing things really fast).

 

They've been performed - tell us about that! And what was it like to see your words come to life on stage?

It's pretty much my favorite feeling ever. I've been very lucky in terms of being produced in Los Angeles, and it's been really wonderful to see the shows come to life. This Is Happening Now was particularly special because my two close friends from college (Karyn Lawrence, who did the lighting design, and Mercedes Manning, who acted in two pieces and directed another) and I produced it together. There's one moment in the show where Mercedes delivered a monologue and Karyn's lights amplified the moment in such a specific, vital way -- it was a great little piece of teamwork, and a reminder of how great it is that we've ended up working/creating in the same city.

 

What's up next for you?

I've got a production of my play The Fire Room going up in October in L.A., and a remount of my play The Pliant Girls in January. I was recently commissioned to write the libretto for an opera, and will start working on that this fall.

 

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

These plays are particular favorites of mine, so it's been wonderful to see them get a new audience -- thank you so much for reading!

 

You can find Meghan and her work online at www.meghanbrown.net

And find the book at http://www.amazon.com/This-Happening-Now-Meghan-Brown/dp/1940233054/

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy and copyright Meghan Brown

 

Note: We received a media copy of this book to facilitate the author interview - thank you!