Sunday, September 04, 2016

I Interview Playwrights Part 874: Olivia Lilley



Olivia Lilley

Hometown: Winfield, IL

Current Town: Chicago, IL

Q:  Tell me about your upcoming show.

A:  "Mary Shelley Sees the Future" is a Freaky Friday-esque journey through time and society. Mary Shelley spends the first act wandering around in the skin of a queer creole female identified novelist named Mya. Mya spends act two navigating Mary Shelley's skin just after the death of Percy Shelley, just before the death of Lord Byron and the early Romantics way of life. It is a story about the female condition and how it exists among people from different worlds.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  Earlier this year, I wrote a film script called "You Can't Win Em All". I wrote it for a couple actors in my company and some I've met in the Chicago storefront scene. It follows a group of young people who ran a DIY venue together two years prior to the start of our tale. Their venue was their kingdom and it was burnt to the ground (possibly by the cops or possibly because of a freak accident). It's a thriller. I hope to start developing it this Winter.

I am also stoked at the potential to direct an original rock musical in a festival in the Wintertime. It's by a cool ass writer named Savannah Reich, fresh to Chicago.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  I am an only child and I grew up with my grandparents in the Western suburbs of Chicago. Because I had no siblings to bully me, I was prone to crying all the time. The kids at school found this fun, but the kids in my neighborhood found it even more fun. I have one memory in particular. After seeing some of the neighborhood kids playing in their front yard, I walked over. They had a bunch of toy guns. Now, I must have been 8 or 9 at the time. These kids were mostly 11, 12, and 13. They immediately started pointing their toy guns at me and telling me that I'm dead. I think it was in jest, but its really hard to tell. The mind of an 8 year old surely exaggerates, but then I started crying. So they kept shooting at me and telling me I was dead and to go home. So next thing I know Granny shows up and she yells at them. She asks them how they can possibly treat a little kid this way when they are way older and should know better. So I'm standing there crying and the kids are not used to being yelled at by a neighbor or an adult. I think they basically just didn't know what to do. So Granny takes me home. An hour later, there's a knock at the door. Granny answers it and it is the kids' mom. I hide behind the couch. I overhear that she is requesting, in a very lawsuit threatening kind of way, that I am no longer allowed on their property. My granny sort of says fine. She doesn't give the woman trouble. As a writer, I am interested in the underlying politics and secret bureaucracies of why things happen. Every time, I start a new project, I remember this story.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theatre, what would it be?

A:  Everybody would work together to make sure THEATRE survives. Too many people are working on their own to make sure THEIR theatre survives. The Expressionists NOT The Age of Heroes, people. Do you really want to be Wagner? :p

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Schiller, Goethe, Baz Luhrmann, The Wooster Group, The Rude Mechs, Elevator Repair Service, Annie Baker, Sheila Callaghan, Bekah Brunstetter, Shannon Sindelar

Q:  What kind of theatre excites you?

A:  Theatre that seems extremely difficult to pull off. When I'm trying to decide what to go see, ambition is the number one deciding factor.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  When you listen to actors read your script out loud, a) do not look at the page b) literally cross out whatever sections bore you.

Q:  You never know what is boring out loud, until you hear it and you have no safety net.

A:  My other piece of advice is think a lot about "What is action". Try defining that term for yourself in your work. Try it. And then do it again, totally differently.

Q: Plugs, please:

A:  The Runaways Presents "Mary Shelley Sees The Future"
October 21st - November 13th @ Outerspace Studios, 1474 n. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago IL
For more info, go to runawayslab.org

I've got a short play going on at Playwrights at The Grand in Brooklyn on September 8th at 7:30pm, for their anniversary show.

I'll be reading from some of my plays with friends at the Wit Rabbit reading series on September 17th @ 5pm @ Quenchers Saloon in Bucktown, Chicago, IL

I'll be reading a short piece at Ghost Planet on October 15th @ Midnight @ Township Bar in Logan Square, Chicago, IL


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