Review Fix chats with playwright Natalie Menna, who discusses her production of â€œOccasionally Nothingâ€ at this yearâ€™s Planet Connections theatre festivity.
About the Production:
OCCASIONALLY NOTHING, WRITTEN BY NATALIE MENNA; DIRECTED BY IVETTE DUMENG, AND STARRING SEAN HOAGLAND, DAVID TRIACCA, AND MAIKEN WIESE, PERFORMS JUNE 24 @ 12:00 PM; JUNE 26 @ 9:00 PM; JULY 1 @ 7:30 PM; JULY 3 @ 7:00 PM; JULY 6 @ 7:30 PM; JULY 8 @ 3:15 PM.
When youâ€™re in a bomb shelter at the end of the world, what do you do?
Play party games!
In the not so distant future, the Drumpf presidency has birthed a world where wars abound, words have lost their meaning, and people have lost their way. The end is near! In a bizarre bomb shelter, harry, clay, and luella, all british expats, cope with their inevitable future by taunting each other with warped games of verbal wordplays, and by blurring each otherâ€™s realitiesâ€¦ only to lose touch with their own.Â It might be too late to ask â€œhow did the world get here?â€
For tickets, visit planetconnections.org or go to https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/27385
Planet Connections Theatre Festivity is multiple theater, film and music festivals. Planet Connectionsâ€™ artists use their work to shed light on causes that matter and inspire audiences to get involved. All of PCTFâ€™s artists raise awareness for an organization or topic of their own selection.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Natalie Menna: When conceptualizing a play, I always have strong characters in my mind begging to be written down. Demanding to be seen and heard. For me, it always starts from there. Then I figure out what situation would be ideal to place these characters in to tell the most compelling story these characters could tell. I usually write notes on a huge yellow pad for a month or so before I start the play.Â It’s a very specific pad,Â a giant Post- it pad, 12 x12 inches,Â but only sticky on the top, so you can turn each page.Â DCI Jumbo pad, to be exact.Â I found it randomly on Amazon a while back, but they discontinued it.Â I was in a state of panic until I found it on E-bay. But there was only one left so I may be writingÂ justÂ one more play in this lifetime… Seriously, though, I am left with pages and pages of crazy looking notes on this yellow pad that I use to begin my play. I write the play on this huge yellow pad, which is great because it’s so big I have room to work out the dialogue, etc.Â I always hand write my scenes first before the computer–this way I can make slight changes when typing it up.Â And I also always write my plays in order. The characters dictate the scenes and the play changes based on what these characters are telling me as I am writing. I try to get each scene where I want until I move on to the next scene.Â Sometimes I will sit for four hours and come up with one line and others I will write ten pages in a few hours.Â I don’t do many drafts, probably because I would never write a full length play in a few days or a few weeks. When I’m really blocked, I will leave the play alone for a few days and almost always the revelation I need will come to me in a dream.Â Then I wake up , write it down, and use it the next day. My best ideas are always dreamed.
Review Fix: What makes this different or special?
Menna:Â In Occasionally Nothing, I am paying homage to absurdist theatre and giving it a modern, up -to -date twist.
Review Fix: What did you learn about yourself through this process?
Menna:Â Words are my best friend yet also my biggest enemy.
Review Fix: How does it feel to be part of something like this?
Menna:Â Planet Connections is such a fabulous, well-run, richly artistic festival with so many awesome artists! I loveÂ working withÂ my director, the amazingly creative Ivette Dumeng and my fabulous actors Sean Hoagland, David Triacca, and Maiken Wiese.
Review Fix: What are your ultimate goals for this production and for the future?
Menna:Â Occasionally Nothing was presented as a Short Form in Planet Connections Festivity 2016 and won Outstanding Playwriting for a Short Form and Outstanding Overall Production of a Short.Â It is now a full length play and premiering in PCTF 2017.Â I would like the play to move on to future productions and to London’s West End.
Review Fix: What do you think your audience will enjoy the most?
Menna:Â The language, the wordplays, the dark humor.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Menna:Â My play Committed,Â an historical fiction piece which deals with the last two days ofÂ Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh ‘s life. It won Outstanding Overall Production of a Staged Reading in PCTF 2015. I am in talks with several NYC theaters for a production thisÂ late fall/winter.Â Â More info to come!