Loretta's Crematorium Hour
Loretta Swanson, mortician and podcast host, faces a late night intruder at her crematorium whose true intentions aren’t as they first appear.
P.S. Drake is the nom de plume of PJ Sallans- an avid playwright and actor involved in many theatrical endeavors around the state of Michigan. Her plays “False Goddess,” and “Geek in the Sheets” were both selected for the Eastern Michigan University Theatre One Act Festival 2020/2021. Her work has also been performed by Ann Arbor Civic Theatre, Break the Chain Theatre Company of Detroit, Bug Pit Collaborative Arts of Ypsilanti, and the Ridgedale Players. In 2020, her play “Advice for Losers” was produced by PTD Productions of Ypsilanti for their first-ever virtual theatre production. Her play “The Resurrectionist” made it to the final round of the Sauk’s Plays-in-Development 2022. As an actress, P.S. is most interested in writing plays she would like to be in. Her work is full of dynamic women, physical comedy, and quick one-liners. Check out her website PSDrake.com for more info.
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’ve been a writer since the third grade when my Girl Scout leader plopped a shiny pink and purple diary in my hands. I’ve been a playwright specifically since 2019, when my local theater released their season line-up and I realized I didn’t want to audition for any of them. I thought to myself, “I’m going to write a play I would want to be in,” which has been my writing mantra since. In 2020 when I wasn’t able to physically be in shows (for obvious reasons) I worked on my playwriting obsessively. Writing plays brings me great joy, and my wish is to share this with the audience who watches them.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
“Loretta’s Crematorium Hour” originally started as a full-length play titled “Loretta’s Crematorium Book Club.” Being one of my earlier attempts, once I finished I realized I hated almost everything about it- except my lead character Loretta. I loved this fiery mortician who thought more often with her head than her heart, and desperately needed someone to come into her life and show her what it meant to be human. A few years passed and I missed her. So I revisited the script, completely re-wrote it, and formed it into what it is today.
I believe Loretta was unintentionally inspired by Caitlin Doughty- American mortician and advocate for death acceptance and funeral industry reform. (Although personality-wise, her and Loretta are very different!) I had read Doughty’s book “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” a few years before writing “Loretta’s” and was completely consumed by it. I encourage you to pick up her books if any part of this one act, or mortuary science as a whole, speaks to you.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
Farcical and witty romantic daydreamer.
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
My many years as an actress have been the ultimate influence on my writing. Frankly, I don’t think I have it in me to play one more love-sick ingenue. I was desperate to know more about the women I was playing and couldn’t figure out why their stories were never being told. In my plays the ingenue is no more. Sure she might be in love with someone (I do love romance, what can I say) but this is only one facet of her character. She is complicated, messy, and usually funny too. I find humor to be a universal language that brings together a character and an audience member in a way few other things can.
My husband Jeff has also influenced my writing. He’s the first one to read my plays once I’m done and he tells me what works and what doesn’t, what’s funny and what’s not, and he’s (usually) right.
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I’ve dissected a human head before. (No, seriously!)
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
Twelfth Night, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Hadestown, A Little Night Music, Hay Fever, I Hate Hamlet, Shakespeare in Love, Moon Over Buffalo, Noises Off, Crazy for You, The Music Man, The Shape of Things.
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
I am in talks to produce my original play “A Very Shakespeare Christmas” next holiday season in the Metro-Detroit area. I am so excited to bring to life this holiday romantic comedy with an Elizabethan twist.