Meet the Playwright!
"When you get down to basics, we live in story. It’s how we communicate, how we make meaning. Every story is about something, and whoever tells the story is connected to the listener for a reason. In theatre, the conversation is actually a collective one involving playwright, director, actors, and audience. But, as audience, we ought to wonder what the teller (the playwright) wants from the listener. " Nedra Pezold Roberts
We thrilled to welcome Nedra Pezold Roberts into our 25th anniversary celebration of plays both old and new. We met Nedra last year when her play, WRONG NUMBER won our New Works! Play Competition and finally we get to see this piece come to life. We've gathered an amazing cast and crew and we cannot wait to bring this story to the stage! Come check it out Nov. 10th-13th at the Bridge Theater in midtown Manhattan.
In the meantime, continue to check back for exciting updates from the process.
For now, let's learn more about Nedra!
Q: Can you share a little bit about yourself?
NEDRA:I’m originally from New Orleans, but I’ve lived in Atlanta for over 40 years. My first career was in teaching, both at Loyola University in New Orleans and then The Westminster Schools in Atlanta. As an English teacher I spent my time marinated in great literature, especially my first love—plays. When I retired six years ago, I began writing my own plays and had my first full production two years ago. I’ve been writing and traveling to my openings and readings ever since.
Q: What is the process of working on a new play like?
NEDRA: My writing is done in isolation, but the essence of Theatre is experience shared in community. I like to think of a moment in the second Genesis story as my metaphor, the part where God breathes life into the clay figures of Adam and Eve. You see, I create a script, the foundation for a shared experience, and I bring my clay figures to a director and actors who breathe life into the script. They make my characters rise up and move off the page in a way that would be impossible if the script stayed inside my computer. Then we present our work, the world we’ve created, to an audience. They’re the final component of the experience, and they complete the cycle of communication. They’re the ones who will take the story with them out of the theatre and into the larger world. But the story will resonate now with our shared experience, because together in community we have made meaning. And that’s what stories do—they make meaning out of the chaos and bits of ordinary life.
Q: What types of stories interests you?
NEDRA: The predicament of being human. The necessity of choice; the inevitability of consequences.Drama is about moving into the conflict. Characters should be in forward motion resisted by opposing forces. Wrong Number offers a Cultural conflict that can’t be an abstraction; actors can’t play abstraction. I need a characters to represent the culture.So, my characters have to be in movement: What do they want? What stands in their way? What is the meaning or consequence of their choices? I ask those questions of each character:
Q: What is the writing and development process like?
NEDRA: Every one of my plays begins with voices in my head, snatches of conversations or gnomic utterances that won't leave me alone, so then I have to go in pursuit to find out who these people are and what they want of me. In other words, character is the starting point and story is my vehicle; I’ve said that abstract concepts and themes have to be incarnated in the lives of people. In that way, characters make visible what is otherwise hidden or disguised. If I get lucky, my characters and their struggles will build a bridge to the audience that allows emotion to be shared, assumptions challenged, and the audience will leave the theatre with a shift in perception, perhaps an enlarged sense of what it means to be human. The opening scene of Wrong Number is my invitation to the audience to do just that, to enter the play by letting go of the expected.
Q: What inspired WRONG NUMBER?
NEDRA: My plays tend to be family dramas, but they’re universal in the sense that I use a microscope on a particular family in order to put a telescope on The Human Family. Wrong Number touches on a cluster of themes that are fraught for us right now: abstract social challenges such as sexual orientation, surrogate pregnancy, definitions of family, and intergenerational adaptation. We learn from the past but we live in the present, a time that continually evolves and fascinates me. In my 40+ years of teaching, I’ve watched the world change and listened to my students as they grappled with ever new challenges. They were my inspiration for this play.
Thanks Nedra! We look forward to making your play come to life. If you want to learn more about Nedra and her work, you should check out her website at www.nedrapezoldroberts.com