Two sisters are in the attic of their recently deceased mother’s home. As they sort through the attic space, they reminisce about their mother and discover some unfamiliar items. What secrets do the items reveal about their family and what discoveries do the girls make?
Stage Door Stories spoke with Aoise Stratford to learn about how perspective of history can change with new revelations and why she has vampires on the mind!
- Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in England and then grew up in Australia, but have been living in upstate New York for about 10 years (California for a few years before that). So in some ways I always have an outsider’s perspective, which is probably not a bad thing for a playwright! I have three kids and being a parent has definitely helped shape the way I see the world, and so it has for sure impacted my writing, too. I think I’m just more aware now of how little time we have and how fragile yet strong and amazing human relationships are. And of course, I’m a consummate juggler like most theatre people!
- What is your background in theatre?
I did some acting in Australia and studied theatre history when I was an undergraduate. I started writing plays because I wrote short stories and some stories just needed to breathe on stage to feel right. I’ve been writing plays for about 15 years and am lucky to have had many productions around the country and overseas. I think I’m up over 100.
- How did you find out about Stage Door Productions’ One Act Festival?
I belong to the Dramatists Guild (and serve as their regional rep in my area) and I belong to an online play writing group, and that helps me keep an eye open for calls for plays. Plus Stage Door has a good reputation for this festival, so it’s a name I recognize and respect.
- What inspired or motivated you to write this One Act?
I’ve always been interested in history and archeology; the idea that we can reconstruct the past from what we find—or at least reconstruct certain versions of it that may or may not jive with what actually happened. But the real seed for the play was thinking about family, and secrets, and how we can misjudge others based on the information we have. My grandmother left a lot of letters behind and they paint a different picture of the woman I remember. We all have secret lives, don’t you think? But love and the desire to belong can be powerful forces and in part I wrote the play to explore how those forces might both repress and resurface unexpectedly in our own sense of where we fit.
- How did you feel upon the selection of your Act to be performed by Stage Door Productions?
I always feel enormously grateful, nervous and excited. It is a strange thing to ask other people to act out or watch what goes on in your brain and I’m thankful that people are willing to put in all the time and resources involved to honor that strange request. It’s always gratifying to have the play you have loved and labored over chosen out of what is usually these days a very big pile. Writing is really my way of grappling with the world around me, and when other people respond it’s both humbling and thrilling to think “wow, we are all in this thing—whatever it is–together.”
- What do you hope the audience takes away from your story?
People always take away different things. That’s why we have the joy of arguing over what a play ‘means’ or what its most profound moment was, or its biggest laugh. I hope that everyone takes away something. For me, I think what I took away from writing it is the realization that loss makes people do strange things and that we rarely know everything even about the people we love. Tiny things can reveal huge emotional terrain. I think I would like people to be engaged with their own ideas about what it means to reclaim a buried history. I think my play and its characters have their funny moments but this isn’t ultimately a comedy, which means some of its impact really comes later and hopefully lingers.
- What doors do you expect to be opened for you from this selection and process?
In the theatre you never know. But if a door creaks open between my work and a person who sees it or works on it and gets something out of it–well, that is a door I am happy to have open.
- What’s next for you?
More writing. I just finished revising a play called “Oracle” that I hope to have a reading of in a month or two and I’m also finalizing the paperwork for a production of my play “The Unfortunates” in Chicago this summer. I have a couple of one-acts or ten-minute plays out and about (one is in rehearsal in my home town, so spending some time in the rehearsal room is on the agenda) and I just wrote a crazy period vampire play that I’m excited about getting into development in the Fall. And of course I have an idea for my next play that I’m itching to start exploring. I also have some dramaturgical work to do and an article to write. Plus, there are always piles of laundry to do, classes to teach, school lunches to make—it’s a glamorous life!
Come check out this revealing One Act on the 3rd floor of the Kitt Creative Studios at 810 Caroline Street in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Performances will be at 7:30 PM on the following days:
Click on any of the dates above to get your tickets now!