Review Fix Exclusive: Leigh Curran Talks ‘Why Water Falls’

Review Fix chats with playwright Leigh Curran, who discusses the creative process and goals behind her upcoming production, “Why Water Falls.”

The production will be performed at the 13TH STREET REPERTORY THEATRE – 50 WEST 13TH STREET in New York City on OCTOBER 21, 22, 28, 29 AND NOVEMBER 1, 5, 8, AND 12. ALL PERFORMANCES BEGIN AT 7:30PM

TICKETS $15 GENERAL ADMISSION & $10 STUDENTS WITH ID

For more information on the production, click here.

Review Fix: What was the inspiration for this production?

Leigh Curran: I’d always wanted to write and perform a solo show but I didn’t want it to be a lot of “then I did this – then I did that” so it wasn’t until I got the idea to write a piece about a woman who doesn’t like talking about herself that the project became interesting. Then I had to figure out why she had this particular aversion and that’s when I began drawing on my own experience – mainly my ambivalence about motherhood and the wild ride that ensued when life made the decision for me – in more ways than one!

On a deeper level – I wanted to take the shame out of not wanting to have children. I know lots of young men and women who are wrestling with this issue and they all feel something is terribly wrong with them. When I was in my childbearing years I was no different. Now, with the perspective of age – I can see that that choice, hard as it was, was the making of me. So I hope young men and women who would rather follow the call of a different destiny will benefit from my experience and go forward into their lives letting the courage of their convictions override the pressures of society.

Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?

Curran: I write on a legal pad in bed and, at a certain point, I nod off. When I come to I enter what I’ve written into my laptop and inevitably go deeper into the material. I’m a big believer in letting my characters lead me to the story. They usually have far better ideas than I do and I often find out what those ideas are when I fall asleep.

Review Fix: What makes you different from other playwrights?

Curran: I don’t know how different this makes me but I never went to college or studied writing. I started writing plays because I wasn’t getting the work I wanted as an actress then I had the good fortune to work with three outstanding directors who taught me about structure, status, timing, etc: Arvin Brown directed my first play, The Lunch Girls; Austin Pendleton my second play, Alterations; Paul Benedict my third play, Walking the Blonde. And while the playwright, Michael Weller and I have never worked together – he’s also influenced me tremendously.

As a writer, I think in dialogue, for the most part – have since I was a kid acting out unrequited romances in the privacy of my bedroom. I also love to listen to the way people speak – how they put words together – the sounds of their voices – the rhythms of their speech. A snippet of conversation can trigger a story – that’s just the way my brain is wired.

Thematically I tend to focus on the struggle to grow, change and become authentic. Social and political issues and humor rise out of who the characters are, the situations they find themselves in and their search for their humanity no matter how accidental or precarious the struggle.

Review Fix: What makes this production special?

Curran: It’s really an evening of True Fiction because I use fictional characters to tell a true story. And while it started out as a solo show it’s really more like a one-woman play.

And I think the ending is special – the audience can’t see it coming – and neither can my character – so when it occurs there’s this kind of joyful, satisfied release.

On a personal note, my director is my longtime friend and creative peer, Mary Pat Gleason. She wouldn’t let me put any part of Why Water Falls on its feet until the script was absolutely clear and that was a godsend. The play is complex – it operates on many levels and because of Mary Pat it’s communicating on all of them. When it’s you and only you on stage there’s nothing more comforting or liberating than feeling the audience with you every step of the way!

Review Fix: How is your cast unique?

Curran: I am my cast. But I play three different people: A writer and the two fictional characters from her novel which, as far as her characters are concerned, is one great, big, fat cliché and because they’re afraid of getting stuck in it, they lead their writer, kicking and screaming, toward the deeply personal stories she’d rather not remember. And therein hangs a tale.

Review Fix: How does it feel to be a part of this festival?

Curran: Why Water Falls had its world premiere production this past June at the Hollywood Fringe Festival where it received the Encore! Producers Award. I highly, highly recommend this Festival! It was really well organized and informative – there were workshops on everything from how to choose your venue to how to tech your show – and the best part for me was they actually made self-promotion fun. I’d never been in a Festival before and I would do the Hollywood Fringe Festival again in a heartbeat! And I may have the opportunity again next year – I’m already looking forward to it.

As far as my run in New York goes – it feels great to be performing Off Broadway again! And particularly at Thirteenth Street Rep where I performed when I was first starting out. I’m a New Yorker at heart and a theater person on both coasts – but being back at Thirteenth Street is like coming full circle. Now if I could just afford to live here!

Review Fix: What are your goals for the production?

Curran: I’d like Why Water Falls to reach young people who are struggling with whether or not to have children. To me, no one journey is more viable than the other. There is so much societal pressure to reproduce while, at the same time, there are so many children already in this world who aren’t getting what they need to thrive. They are as much the future as their unborn counterparts.

I’d also like to share Why Water Falls with women who have had abortions and are still wrestling with the impact that decision had on their lives. I support the Right to Choose but I also feel it’s important to acknowledge the beings that come into our lives however briefly – they have gifts to give. Our job is to stay open and grateful.

Review Fix: Who do you think will enjoy it the most?

Curran: People who like theatre that takes them on a ride that is funny, gutsy, emotional and smart. People who are interested in the human journey – in the search for wholeness – in making peace with irrevocable life choices. People who believe mankind has potential.

Review Fix: What’s next?

Curran: I’ve started writing another play – at the moment it feels like a one-act but you never know – and I’m about half way through my second novel.

I’m also on the board of the Virginia Avenue Project – a non-profit I founded 23 years ago that uses Theatre Arts to give struggling children life skills. It’s on the verge of establishing the Virginia Avenue Project’s Arts Center for Youth. Very exciting dream that wants to come true – and I’m part of the team that’s making sure it does!

About Patrick Hickey Jr. 9000 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of ReviewFix.com and is the author of the book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late Examiner.com. He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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