An Instant Message
In the age of dial-up, a New Jersey teen saves up lunch money to buy a phone card to call her boyfriend in Kansas. Their first conversation might’ve gone like this. Or so she remembers.
Allyson is a playwright from New Jersey. Her full-length plays include The Myth of the Tree, The Hub (Princess Grace Fellowship Semi-Finalist), Nothing Remained But Voice and Bones (NAP Reading Series Semi-Finalist, New American Voices Semi-Finalist) and Arrow of Time (The Brick 2022). She is a current member of The Brick’s inaugural SoundLab, a recent PAL at Fresh Ground Pepper, and a member of the 2020-2021 Clubbed Thumb’s Early Career Writer’s Group.
A BIT ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
1. When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?
I started by writing & drawing “books” in third grade titled “Mr. Quack Quack”…I’d write my friends into the stories as foxes or frogs or geese. When I got to high school, I’d write and direct my own one-act plays and cast my friends to say the weird stuff in my brain. It was like a dream I never wanted to end.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
Last winter Clubbed Thumb asked the early career writer’s group to write a five-minute telephone play for the directing fellows. The interesting twist was to write the call as a conversation the listener was stumbling into, or wasn’t supposed to be hearing. I’d never want someone stumbling into the many one-sided conversations I have in my head, especially with my own memories. I’d be even more embarrassed to have someone listen to how my very raw memories freely slide and morph. I initially developed it with Arpita Mukherjee and those wonderful sessions led to the present version.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
My goofy angsty brain exploded!!
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
What a question!! Let’s see…Harrison David Rivers, Jiehae Park, Clare Barron, Andrew Rosendorf, Suzan-Lori Parks, Adrienne Kennedy, Sam Shepherd, Sarah Kane, Carson Kreitzer, my man Brecht, the writers I’ve been in groups with over the last year. Coffee and bike rides and my dreams. Twin Peaks in all its forms. The intimacy of Vespertine by Björk. The films of Miyazaki and Takahata. If I’m writing, Ryuichi Sakamoto’s music is playing.
*Lately* I’ve been inspired by the writing of David Graeber, replaying Katamari Damacy, Steely Dan, Verhoeven flicks, Kaiba by Masaaki Yuasa, the legacy and activism of Aaron Swartz, and the programming at The Brick & Exponential Festival which at times brought me to tears. I’m like the chick from Mean Girls who just feels stuff all the time. Can’t turn it off!
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I have a fanfic I still write and update occasionally – it’s from a long forgotten anime, and to make it more uniquely interesting to me only, it’s a prequel to someone else’s fanfic of said anime no one remembers. And it’s always the most fun to write because I write it just for me.
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
this bitter earth, Blasted, True West, Far Away, Dance Nation, Gidion’s Knot, Everybody, A Bright Room Called Day, Peerless, If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be A Muhfucka, Tar Beach, The Nether, Water by The Spoonful
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
I’m writing an audio play about the value of time, a thing we are all given but often don’t think of in terms of value or even ownership. I try to explore this through a casual futuristic love story between a daughter and her dads. How does work keep us from each other for entire lifetimes? I’m super excited to developing this with The Brick, and you should be able to hear it in winter 2022!