Q&A with "Oh Righteous God And Sinful Me"

July 9, 2019

 

Linsey’s answers for questions by Gaye:

 

Q: What is the name of your play and how did the idea for this play surface? What made you put pen to paper? 

 

A: The name of my play is Oh Righteous God And Sinful Me (which is an acronym for orgasm.) The idea for this play didn’t surface as naturally as some as my other ideas have, which is strange because out of every idea I’ve ever had I connect to this one the most. Basically, in early September 2018, I was freaking out about the future about actually becoming a playwright. I had so many ideas in my notes and none of them were just flowing. I was looking up places to submit my work to and I came across a company that only wanted plays with an all-female cast, and I decided I needed to write one of those.

 

Even though I did want to tackle certain issues in the Catholic church, my reasoning for writing this play goes far beyond any problems exclusive to Catholicism. Something I had become recently passionate about was the normalization of females masturbating.  Sex is viewed as something that happens to women, not something they partake in, so I was getting increasingly more annoyed by the fact that women are seen as playing a significant role in the sexual awakening of males, but young girls never really get to explore that same experience.

 

Sex is often used against women to give others the power to judge them for something other than their intellect, wit, humanity, etc. We value women when they are pure and virtuous. We exploit them when they are comfortable with their sexuality. Young women deserve to learn that the things they feel are normal. 

 

What I hoped to do with my play was to normalize female sexuality, normalize the fact girls masturbate, normalize the fact that girls get horny, and convey the fact that the lack of real sex education in schools is quite literally dangerous. 

 

Q: What plays written by women inspire you? Why? 

 

A: When I was 20 years old, we did Molly Smith Metzler’s Elemeno Pea. It was the first play I was ever in that was written by a woman in my entire theatre career. The fact that my role in it was by far the most powerful, complex, deepest, and easiest to connect to role I’ve ever had was not a coincidence. There should be equally as many stories about women out there as there are stories about cis men. 

 

I also am a big fan of genre bending and comedies that tackle real life issues. I love Clare Barron’s “You Got Older,” Therese Rebeck’s “Spike Heels,” Paula Vogel’s “How I Learned to Drive,” Sarah Treem’s “When We Were Young and Unafraid,” and Sarah DeLappe’s “The Wolves.”  

 

Q: You are a young woman – how important is gender equity to you as you begin your career as a playwright?

 

A: Gender equity is the biggest part of my career. It’s the thing with the most potential to hold me back, yet also the thing with the most potential to help me soar. If we as artists can continue to broaden the field and make it more accessible to women, I have no doubt my career will take off. I think we need stories about women (and every other gender that isn’t cis men) more than ever right now. 

 

I think about the 2017 Tony Awards a lot. The best play nominees had 2 men and 2 women making up the category, seems equal, yeah? J.T. Rogers who won was 49 at the time, Lucas Hnath 32, Lynn Nottage was 52, and Paula Vogel was 65. It was the first nomination for all nominated, and as a young woman I guess I’m saying my hope is that I don’t have to wait until I'm 65 to be taken seriously as a playwright. We see young men accrue nominations and such at young ages so frequently, so I want voices of women of all ages to be listened to as well. 

 

I want to see a year where all the nominees are women. I’ve thought that before and then been like “is that going a little too far? It doesn’t have to be only women” and then I think to myself WHY am I so accustomed to normalizing a category being ALL MALES but think it’s wild for one to be all females? 

 

Gaye’s answers for questions by Linsey:

 

Q: As a playwright yourself, what is it like watching the process from the other side of things?

 

A: Well . . . I love actors because they can do all of the things that I can’t! Stepping into this process as an actor has certainly reminded me that this play is about individuals who are trying to do what they think is best in the moment. As a director I spend a lot of time thinking about theme and ideas. Actors are focusing on the moment happening now and using their imaginations in different ways than directors or playwrights.

 

Q: What made you decide to be a part of this specific production?

 

A: When I read the play I felt such a rush. It was like actually reading the scenes that are not normally seen on the stage – and you put them out there as the main event of the play! A lot of plays are still written from the point of view of a male protagonist. In this play there is not a man in sight! It more than passes the Bechtel test. The only way to truly change the culture is to actively live, breathe, and pursue the change you want to see. This play breaks down some huge issues young women face in trying to navigate all of the signals about their bodies and sex. And you wrote it without apology.

 

Q: How has the field of playwriting changed for women since you entered it? In what major ways do we still need to work towards equality in the field?

 

A: When I was your age, back in the 80s, the only women playwrights I can recall were:  Lorraine Hansberry, Caryl Churchill, Maria Irene Fornes, and Susan Glaspell. Anthologies usually only had two plays written by women: A Raisin in the Sun and maybe Trifles. With the majority of directors also being men, the roles for women on and off stage were sparse and controlled. Women could be costumers but not set designers. Women would be stage managers but not production managers. While women are making strides, we are not close to gender equity in 2019. The stories that women have to tell, and the way in which women write, are still relegated to the “iffy” pile when it comes to season selection and committing to new voices. American theatre is stuck in a rut and women are pushing forward with all of our might to move us in a new direction. 

 

However, I often wonder if women are often too willing to build a new room instead of pushing into the room that already exists. Should we be demanding a seat at the table instead of building a table of our own? I struggle with this question. I have battled for nearly thirty years in the entertainment industry. Many men are still choosing to fight for the status quo instead of hearing new thoughts or ideas. I have noticed that often women are too willing to let these behaviors slide. Some men have commandeered great facades which they will present at meetings and seemingly show support for women, when in reality the minute they step out of the room, those words melt. We need action and not words.

 

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