Spotlight on Sara Joy Lebowitz and Two Girls, One PlaceBy Laura & Mike Clark • Jun 13th, 2007 • Category: Interviews, NVTA
Listen to Mike talk with Sara Joy Lebowitz, playwright of and performer in Two Girls, One Place [MP3 9:52 2.8MB]. Two Girls, One Place was performed at the 2007 NVTA One Act Festival.
Mike: Hi, this is Mike Clark with ShowBizRadio and I am talking with Sara Joy Lebowitz who wrote a play for the NVTA One Act Festival and she also performed in it. How are you doing Sara Joy?
Sara Joy: I’m doing very well, thank you.
Mike: So the show is called Two Girls, One Place. It was part of the Castaways Repertory Theatre’s entry into the NVTA. You wrote this show?
Sara Joy: Yes, I did.
Mike: Didn’t you write your first show for last year’s NVTA?
Sara Joy: No. This is actually the fourth show I’ve done for NVTA.
Mike: Are you getting better at it do you think?
Sara Joy: I definitely think that I am. A couple of people have said that last year was my best show. A couple of people have told me last year that that was their favorite show. Now this year people are telling me that this one’s their favorite show.
It gets easier, I think, as you go along. You learn more and you refine your craft better and you figure out which is the best way to work certain situations. But I’ve also found different ways of attacking the material and attacking the story line.
The last two years that I wrote I actually knew who the cast was before I ever started writing the play. That was helpful in a much different way because I was able to write towards people’s strengths and weaknesses. I was able to write towards what would stretch an actor. The other girl in the show with me was McCall Noelle Doyle. She is a very good friend of mine. A lot of people have told us that things would have been easier if I had switched the parts if she had played Faith and I had played Charity because those roles are a lot closer to who we are as people. But neither one of us were interested in doing anything easy. We wanted to make it challenging for ourselves. We wanted to stretch ourselves. It was a little bit more frustrating of process to have switched the roles because we were both uncomfortable with certain aspects of our characters.
Mike: Of the characters you actually played?
Sara Joy: Of the characters we actually played.
Mike: Ok. So for this show you didn’t have McCall in mind for the other part?
Sara Joy: I did. I had McCall and I in mind. The play started because McCall asked me to write a play for the two of us to do at NVTA. We talked about different characters and we talked about different things we wanted to do and then I just sort of started creating characters and started writing and this particular play developed. People have asked me where it came from and I honestly don’t know because it’s not anything that’s ever happened to me. It’s not anything that I’ve ever had to deal with. I just created a very fictional story.
A lot of people think it’s about the issue because that’s what’s most prominent when you see a play like this. But it’s not. At it’s core it’s simply about the fact that no matter who you are or where you end up, anybody can be there with you and you’re not alone. It may not even be the person you ever thought would be there with you, but these things can happen to anyone.
Mike: I definitely saw it as a relationship theme.
Sara Joy: Yes.
Mike: You wrote the parts for you and McCall. How did you pick Don Peterson as the director?
Sara Joy: I’ve always wanted to work with Don. I had the play probably about half way to where it ended up. It was a long proces to getting it to where it was on Friday night. We were still rewriting lines the week before the show just trying to make the characters, I don’t want to say more real, but when you’re writing you have one way of looking at things. Then when people finally get into those parts and you start performing it and you start saying things out loud you kind of realize, “Wait that doesn’t actually work” or that line doesn’t sound like something the character would say. It’s always a work in progress. That’s a great thing about being part of the process is that you have people telling you, “that doesn’t really sound right.”
I’ve always wanted to work with Don Peterson. I think he’s a phenomenal director. We had talked about it briefly a few months back when I was first handing the script over to Castaways. I asked him if he would be interested and he told me to send him the script. He let me know that he would definitely be interested. That was really great. I think I actually scared people when we were at actually at Port City seeing another show when he told me that yes, he would do it. I screamed so loudly I think I scared the other people in the lobby.
Mike: Since it was evolving, probably not, but couldn’t that be kind of dangerous if you’re the writer and then you’re in the show and the director started changing it or interprets things a little differently?
Sara Joy: It is, it is always dangerous. I don’t want it to sound like I’m boasting about myself, but I hapen to be very collaborative. Both when I’m acting, when I’m writing, and when I’m directing. Theater is a collaborative process. No one person makes a show. Not even a one person show. There is no one person because you have a cast, and you have a director, and you have a playwright, and set designers and costume designers, and lighting designers and all these different people who are contributing to a piece of the show.
Especially for me as a writer creating a new work. I’m very self concious about my writing because it is such a close extension of myself. But I am not so naive not to realize that after working on a play for six months that I can’t see all the holes and I can’t see all the gaps because I get to the point where I’ve read it so many times. I know what I’m trying to say and I may not realize that somebody else doesn’t get it. It’s actually wonderful to bring Don in and to bring McCall in and have them say, “Well, what if we tried this? or what if we tried that?”
There were suggestions that they made that I didn’t take into account because it wasn’t what I was trying to do with the play and it wasn’t where I was trying to go. There were suggestions that I thought were absolutely phenomenal. For anyone who didn’t see the play, at the end of the play there are these two little girls that pop up in the background. That was not written in the play. That was Don’s choice as a director. It was his artistic vision for how he wanted to kind of put his stamp on the end of the play. I thought it was phenomenal. I’ve written it into the play. I think it’s a great idea.
Mike: I was going to ask you about the girls.
Sara Joy: Yeah.
Mike: Laura and I were both a little confused by the girls. We were like, “Ok, so is this the two characters being friends, being innocent with each other?”
Sara Joy: It’s competely open to interpretation. I never give anything away as a writer. If you can make people walk away talking then you’ve done your job. For us, our intention was that they were the unborn children. The children who could become if these two girls walked out of this clinic and didn’t come back. Of course the question remains at the end whether or not do they come back and not part of what people question.
People saw a variety of things in those two little girls. Some people saw McCall’s and my characters as children and our innocence of our childhood. One of the judges saw the children as simply the complete innocence of the life of a child, any child. The fact that there’s so much potential in a child and you don’t know where they’re going to go and where they’re going to end up. Certainly when Faith and Charity were children I’m sure they never dreamed they would end up where they were or that they would ever even meet each other. Those kind of things people always have some sort of intention in their artistic nature when they put it up on the stage, but when somebody walks away and they see someone else and that resonates with them, great. I love it.
Mike: Was the feedback from the judges positive?
Sara Joy: It was, it was very positive. They really enjoyed the performance. I was very happy. It’s always nerve racking putting something like that up there and wait to see what people have to say.
Mike: Switching topics just a little bit. You’ve also taken on some new responsibilities at Vpstart Crow in Manassas.
Sara Joy: I have indeed. I’m now the Managing Director of Vpstart Crow.
Mike: So what is involved in being managing director?
Sara Joy: Right now it is simply keeping track of the day to day functions. It’s a lot of legal work. I’m in charge of drawing up the contracts for the actors whenever we cast a show. It’s just taking care of making sure that financially we are where we need to be. It’s being a liaison between our artistic director, Chrisine Lange, and the board. The board is concerned with how we’re doing financially and fiscally and Christine is concerned with how we do artistically and making sure we all stay on the same page and we’re working together.
Mike: So what is the next show that they are doing out there?
Sara Joy: They are doing the Wonderful Adventures of Don Quioxte. It will open July 13th and run for three weekends. Friday, Saturday and Sundays. It is going to be absolutely fabulous. I saw a rehearsal on Saturday and a rehearsal on Sunday. It’s not the musical. People should know that in advance. It is not the Man of La Mancha. It is a very fun, family friendly. It’s going to be colorful and campy.
I think people are going to love it. I think people are going to adore it. It’s very different from our last show, the Ghost Sonata, which was in my personal opinion an artistic success. I believe Don Quixote is going to be just as much of a success. But it is completely different as far as scope and artistic vision and what people are going to see and who it’s going to appeal to, which is great. I love that we have such diversity in our seasons.
Mike: I remember the last time we talked about a year ago, you weren’t quite sure how to use your theater experience professionally. Is this kind of part of that?
Sara Joy: This is definitely part of that. My undergraduate degree from Penn Stae University is a major in management with a minor in theater. Being a manging director is actually exactly what I went to school for.
Mike: Great. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about NVTA or Two Girls, One Place or Vpstart Crow or anything?
Sara Joy: I think everyone should come support NVTA. The final weekend is this weekend and there are a number of great shows that are going to be up Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening. I think people should come. I think people should mark their calendars for Don Quixote, because I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. And keep track of what’s going on in a theater in your area because it’s really important to support these theaters so that they can continue to put on wonderful shows for everyone.
Mike: Thank you very much for talking wih me. I appreciate it.
Sara Joy: Thank you very much.
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Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.