And Toto too Theatre Company is presenting two one act plays THE WAY STATION & THE SOUTH STAR by Colorado Playwright Rebecca Gorman O’Neill.
THE WAY STATION is the story of three strangers from different places and times, each pulled out of their travels and dropped off at a mysterious way station. At this surreal crossroads, no excuse, lie, or self-delusion holds up to scrutiny, and each person must find the strength to face his or her own dark secret, only then may they move on.
SOUTH STAR is set seven years in the future, during the second American Civil War, South Star is the story of a survivor, an inspiration, a reluctant hero who wishes she could just stop running. Stel finds herself in the company of two people – one an apparent victim, and one an apparent predator. What commences is a figurative game of three-card-Monty; the stakes are Stel’s life.
Here is my Q&A with Playwright Rebecca Gorman O’Neill
The Way Station and South Star are one act plays that share a few elements but do not seem directly related. How do you describe them, and did you conceive them as companion pieces?
I would describe the Way Station as a mystery, and South Star as a suspense story. The two of them do share some elements that I always find intriguing: 1 – a space that doesn’t belong to any of the characters – a space that is on the way to another space and 2 – a trap: a reason the characters can’t leave. In The Way Station, the trap is physical, in South Star, it’s psychological. Also, I love a 3-person play. They provide a great opportunity to keep shifting alliances – one person is always against two, and you can keep shifting that dynamic around.
I didn’t specifically conceive them as companion pieces – South Star is much more clearly a companion to my full-length, The Greater Good, which And Toto Too was the first to produce – but I love the way that they’re coming together under Susan’s guidance. The actors, I hope, get to have fun showing some range, and, like any 2 pieces of art when you put them side-by-side, one gives a different context to the other.
After reading these plays I first thought of Rod Serling, (like you he also taught writing) not as a direct comparison, but simply as a salute. Is there any connection to his style for you?
Oh absolutely! The Way Station is very much inspired by The Twilight Zone, which I think is a classic of American Literature. I think that Rod Serling, (and Ray Bradbury, and Stephen King) are strong influences on my writing. They are giants. So if you see the salute, I’m more than flattered. South Star a little less directly inspired. That idea came from an immersion in literature about the WWII French Resistance movement.
What drew you to writing one act plays?
One-Acts are how I learned to write plays. I started writing plays in college, and took the (two) playwriting classes my college offered. My mentor, Peter Parnell, encouraged us to write for the One-Act Festival my school hosted, which is how I got my first productions. The length and the limit of the one act suited me – I like compact stories. One acts were all I wrote until grad school, because it’s all I thought I knew how to write.
On the New Play Exchange you write that you are “bored of cynicism and I appreciate cleverness.”, how did that point of view develop for you?
Thank you for reading my NNPX page! I sometimes think I’m whistling in the wind on that one. OK, so, I teach, and I’m a judge for a couple play contests, and the result is that I read a ton of plays. (I also watch a lot of TV and movies) a ton, mostly by beginning writers, who tend to lean comfortably back into being cynical about the state of, well, everything. But then I sometimes get to see cleverness – innovation – something I haven’t seen before. That’s so, so exciting. Cynicism is a place where one can rest. Cleverness is like a call to action, innovation, and movement.
How would you describe working with And Toto Too Theatre Company?
It’s straight-up wonderful working with And Toto Too. Susan and I figured out that we had been working together in some capacity since the first Play Crawl, 2010. They produced a reading of, then a full production of The Greater Good , which went on to be published. Susan takes such good care of her actors, designers, and playwrights. She’s professional and focused, and what’s really lovely, is I always feel in very good hands. I trust And Toto Too with my work, and I have always been treated with care and respect. I’m really very grateful for this opportunity.
Anything else you would like to share?
The actors are wonderful! The set design is exciting! The Lighting designer is talented! I’m very much looking forward to seeing how And Toto Too brings the plays to the stage, and I am really, very proud to be working with And Toto Too again.
The Way Station & South Star by Rebecca Gorman O'Neill. April 19-May 5 got tickets https://www.andtototoo.org/buytickets/
Posted by And Toto too Theatre Company on Tuesday, March 27, 2018
April 19-May 5, 2018
ASL performance April 27
The Way Station and South Star-Two one Acts
by Rebecca Gorman O’Neill
Directed by Susan Lyles
Starring Kate Poling, Seth Palmer Harris and Austin Lazek
Set & Sound Design Darren Smith
Light Design Alexis K. Bond
Stage Manager Carol Timblin
Fight Choreography Benaiah Anderson