Shabbat Shalom, Singles
Rach just wants Temple Beth Israel’s first Singles Shabbat to be a success, even though Congregation Sons of Israel always has better themes. Her sister Ruthie just to get through the evening in one piece. Is that too much to ask?
Margot Connolly is playwright originally from Pleasantville, NY. Her plays include Belfast Kind (Winner, JPP’s Jewish Playwriting Contest), Quiz Out (Princess Grace Finalist, 2019 Kilroy’s Honorable Mention), The Twitch (Princess Grace Finalist), and Tough. Her work has been produced and developed through Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Playwrights Center, the Drama League, the Jewish Plays Project, Repertory St. Louis, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Primary Stages and The Juilliard School, among others. She has an EST/Sloan commission, was a 2010-2011 Core Apprentice at the Playwrights Center and has been a finalist for the Jerome Fellowship, the Emerald Prize, and the Princess Grace Award. She received her BA from Bennington College and her MFA from the University of Iowa’s Playwrights Workshop, and is a recent graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace playwriting program at Juilliard.
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 went to a very small middle and high school that did three shows a year: a straight play in the fall, the musical in the winter, and in the spring, the student-written and -directed one-act plays. I started acting in those plays in seventh grade and by the time I hit high school I was desperate to take the playwriting class, which was a group of maybe six students sitting on couches in the teacher’s office (which also doubled as the green room.) I ended up taking it seven times and wrote seven plays by the time I graduated— two of which were produced in the spring one-acts—and from there I never looked back. I’ve been writing plays now for more than half my life, and I feel super fortunate that I was able to find my passion at fourteen years old.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
In my first year at Juilliard, our cohort of eight playwrights and the two heads of program decided to spend an empty class period bringing in ten minute plays around the theme of the Ten Commandments. I pulled “Honor the Sabbath and Keep It Holy” from a hat. Thus, Shabbat Shalom, Singles.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
The best thing about playwriting is I get way more than five words to describe things!
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
Lately, I’ve been especially drawn to and moved by the experiences and lives of young women. As a female writer, I feel that nuanced, real teenage girls are underrepresented in American plays. Too often they are the butt of a joke with shallow concerns and no interest in the world outside themselves or their cell phone. They are viewed as a joke, a prize to be won, or as sidekicks or background characters in the coming of age stories of men. I think it’s important we recognize that these young women are humans in their own right, with lives and struggles and stories and a coming of age of their own. I want to explore and bring to light these stories and give voice to these young women, to allow them to be seen and heard by a world that doesn’t necessarily inherently understand their value.
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
As a nine year old, I once wrote a letter to the New York Times Book Review offering to review children’s books for them and got a very polite letter back saying that while they do review children’s books, they normally have adults review them – a fact my nine year old brain could not make sense of. (Why would you want to know what the adult thinks when it’s a kid’s book?)
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
Always inspired by the work of my amazing peers – Scott Bradley’s Packing, Marisela Treviño Orta’s Shoe, Eboni Booth’s Paris, Matthew Capodicasa’s Next/Life, Jessica Huang’s Mother of Exiles.
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
My next project is learning how to be in public without a mask on!