2018 SummerWorks Preview Questionnaire: A Girl Lives Alone

5 Aug

Your name: Jessica Moss

Your production: A Girl Lives Alone

Your role: Writer/Performer

Tell me about your show.

Marion moves to New York in the wake of a break-up and a murder takes place in her walk-up apartment building. As her life starts to feel like she’s trapped in a Hitchcock movie, or maybe a TV show where young girls get killed every week, Marion can’t stop listening to the old-timey suspense podcasts her ex made; and the lives of the other tenants, particularly the foley artist who lives upstairs, start to push in on her walls, making the dangers of being a girl living alone seem more and more prevalent. Does living close to others keep us safe, or put us in danger? And can you keep it down up there? An ensemble comedy and a mash-up of Hitchcock, radio horror, and Law and Order SVU about murder, fear, and how well you really know your neighbours.

You’ve been commissioned to write a musical about the events of 2018 so far. What is it called, and what’s your elevator pitch?

It’s called ‘Way Up Here’, and it’s about a gay scientist and an under-achieving girl whose mum just died. They team up to build a machine that can contact aliens in Sudbury, Ontario and hijack the city’s money to do so.

This is actually just the musical I’ve been trying to write for the past little bit. Maybe it has nothing to with 2018, but I think we need to see more shows that talk about things like loving each other, understanding people who are different, how hard it is to listen, how scary the world is, in particularly dark times: and I believe we are in particularly, terribly dark times. There’s something really subversive about radical entertainment out for a good time, and narratives that focus on kindness and truth right now.

We live in ever-changing times (for better and for worse). What, in the artistic community, do you currently feel there is too much of, and too little of?

I’d like to see less:

Training that focuses on ‘breaking people down’ without ever getting around to ‘building them back up’.
Desire to appease subscribers.
People working with the same people on the same kind of plays.
Mandate driven theatres
Letter grading of plays (please buzz off)
Dramaturgy that’s about ‘fixing’ plays or turning them into things that more closely resemble plays we have already seen
Sets that revolve around couches
Acceptance of cruelty as something we need to make work better
Writing that depends on characters being dumb
People who have never written plays being on juries that determine what plays get money and which plays are the good plays
Four hander plays being the ‘big cast’ play
Political theatre that doesn’t say anything controversial and lets us think that we have done a good thing just by going and agreeing with the play, even though the play said nothing

I’d like to see more:

Empathy
Risk
Truth
TRUTH
Like a completely radical and surprising commitment to truth, actual truth, not what you THINK is true, what actually is true.
Rehearsal time
Affordable and adequate rehearsal spaces – seriously, what are we going to do about this? If I host a meeting about this, will people come?
Women and people of colour in leadership positions in established theatres
Term limits for artistic directors (8 years seems sufficient)
Long-form responses to plays instead of critiques
Comedies that are actually funny
Free tickets offered to playwrights and artists
Free tickets offered to everybody
Direct social engagement from theatres in terms of audiences and also community outreach
Dancing from people who have been told they can’t dance
Singing in groups
Diversity on stages, including body diversity
Women of colour directing plays
Support for playwrights to find their voices, not become new versions of pre-existing playwrights
Drinking alcohol in theatres
Child care for theatre workers with small children and support for pregnant women and women with young children
Roles written for women over 50, especially roles that let them tell jokes, have sex, set things on fire, make mistakes, be angry, and have the last word
Comfortable theatre lobbies that let people come work there without buying things, but that also have cookies and beverages available for purchase
Established professionals and critics from major newspapers going to fringe shows
Inclusion
And there’s not enough safety in most rehearsal rooms, and not enough danger on most stages.

What other shows or artists are you looking forward to seeing?

I have watched every video that Rock Bottom Movement has on their website, and I think I am their biggest fan, so fantasylover. Seriously, Alyssa Martin is a genius.

Daniel Krolik and Hume Baugh are two of the best actors in Toronto, and they are in an amazing cast of similarly gifted humans in Box 4901 (including Michael Hughes, who I really want to write for).

The Extinction of Hong Kongers looks wicked.

Shira Leuchter is a treasure, so ‘Lost Together’.

I think Esther Jun is so smart, and I always love a Brecht play, so ‘The Private Life of the Master Race’.

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