In a not-so-distant future, a socially awkward couple sets out to have a wild night at an exclusive Brooklyn party. But as they throw themselves into an evening of living in the present, they can’t seem to escape the reminders of a strange and unavoidable future.
Lisa Mongillo is a Midwest-born, Brooklyn-based writer of plays, musicals, satire, and more. Recent work includes the horror-laced THE RADIUM GIRLS: A JAW-DROPPING NEW MUSICAL, the throwback WE ARE THE BENJAMIN HARRISON HIGH SCHOOL HORSE GIRLS, the absurdist HOSPITAL KIDS, the song-cycle A NEVER-ENDING LINE (Off-Broadway), and the children’s piece THE COLOR OF THINGS. Her work has been performed at Feinstein’s/54 Below, the Duplex, the Metropolitan Room, the Players Theatre, the PIT, the Public House Theater, Stage 773, and as part of the SoundBites Festival, Players Theatre Short Play Festival, and Out Of The Box Theatrics’ New Works series. She was a semi-finalist for the Eugene O’Neill National Musical Theatre Conference, a finalist for the City Theater National Short Playwriting Award, and a featured writer in the BMI Workshop Showcase. Beyond theater, she contributes humor pieces to Reductress. Lisa is a graduate of William & Mary. www.lisamongillo.com
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?
As ridiculously cliche as this is about to sound, I’ve pretty much always been writing. Some of my earliest memories are writing down stories – I remember scribbling down accounts of imagined space exploration at a friend’s house, oddly morbid tales of abandoned puppies and orphaned children, and a total ripoff of the Redwall series. As a shy and frequently sick kid, writing always seemed like the natural way for me to make sense of and have some control over my world. But, I didn’t know I wanted to pursue it as a career until I was 21 and my Second City writing instructor leaned over to me and said, “You should keep doing this.” It wasn’t the first time a teacher of mine had said something like that – I had a business law professor who was particularly adamant – but it was the first time it felt right. Also, the instructor said it just loud enough for the overconfident Harvard grad across the table to hear and huff at, which was fun. Many years and many late-night, Sour Patch Kid-fueled writing sessions later, I think I made the right call not going to law school. (Well, most of the time.)
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
My play explores an idea I keep coming back to: how people try to live in the moment when they know that their future is bleak. It’s something we see people reckon with every day, carving out a place for joy, revelry, and intimacy in the face of an encroaching tidal wave. I built the story around a futuristic world, where this need to live in the ‘now’ has been amplified for certain people. I approached it as a comedy, trying to use humor to bring out honesty in an emotionally-charged situation. Also, I made the characters all queer because I guess that’s my hope for the future.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
Always always always always writing.
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
I think my influences are always evolving. I try to take something away from each new work I see, human I meet, collaboration, experience, book, etc. I think drawing on personal grief and loneliness play a big role in the way I tell stories because they help me tie everything to the most basic human emotions – whether I’m writing a physical comedy or a coming-of-age melodrama. And to cherry pick a few of the other influences I’ve picked up along the way, I’ll add: summer thunderstorms, my Midwestern upbringing, Christopher Guest and Céline Sciamma films, the Chicago theater and comedy scene, stories of injustice, the “this kiss” scene in the movie Practical Magic, my parents’ proofreading skills, stories of humble people doing good, and the use of silence in British crime dramas.
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I used to be against eating fish because I thought I was a mermaid in a previous life.
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
Favorites are tough, and I don’t like to choose, but I will say the last one I saw before everything shut down was Jaqueline Novak’s brilliant show Get On Your Knees. There was this big bug flying all around the stage throughout, really just getting in the way, and she managed to deftly incorporate it into the monologue. It instantly became one of my most memorable theater moments; well worth sprinting through the Village from the C train to make it there on time.
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
For the past few years I’ve been working on a musical called THE RADIUM GIRLS with Sami Horneff and Amanda D’Archangelis. It’s a horror-laced dark comedy inspired by the girls who worked at radium watch dial factories in the 1920’s, were poisoned by the men at the top, and rose up against the patriarchy. We had a rousing table read in February, and we’re excited to bring this very, very tonally unique show to the masses once theater starts to exist again.
I also have a feature script I’ve been developing with Joanna Burns, it’s called WE ARE THE BENJAMIN HARRISON HIGH SCHOOL HORSE GIRLS! and it contains all the wonders of being a nerdy teen at an Indiana high school in 1993. If you weren’t a horse girl before, we will convert you.