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Velvet Rope

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Celestine Rae
May 2, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Playwright/Director.

What is your show about?
Joan, a college sophomore, sets out to explore the topic of womens sexuality for a thesis paper in her womens studies class by going undercover at the local strip club and stepping into the world of a stripper.

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
I began my life in the theatre as a dancer. I was terribly shy as a child and it wasn't until my first dance recital at the age of 4, when the curtains opened and the music began, that I came out of my shell. Being on stage made me feel at home. I grew up performing on stage in concert dance recitals and with dance companies in the Philadelphia area where I grew up. Dance was an enormous part of my life since I was 4 years old. It allowed me to express myself in ways that I could not as the shy child I was off stage. I knew that being in a theatre and performing was my calling. When I found acting, it completed a piece of the puzzle artistically and allowed me to go even deeper through another means of expression. The move towards acting sparked an interest in creating my own work and I began to write plays. Now I am directing a play that I wrote, Velvet Rope. The theatre and performing are my callings in life. Sometimes I feel that the theatre chose me, rather than the other way around. I find myself always returning to it in some capacity. No matter how many films I work on, there is nothing like stepping on a stage or directing for the stage. Simply nothing like it.

Who is more important in the theater: the actor, the playwright, or the director?
None of the above. It is a beautiful collaboration between all three. That is what makes theatre so inspiring and enjoyable to work on... watching the seed of the playwright blossom as the imaginations of the director and actors blend and harmonize to create what you hope to be somewhat of a "masterpiece." Of course, everything begins with the words. The playwright gives birth to an idea and the director and actors bring it to life. It is a beautiful codependent relationship.

Do you think the audience will talk about your show for 5 minutes, an hour, or way into the wee hours of the night?
I hope audiences talk about the theme of Velvet Rope into the wee hours of the night. Or at least that Velvet Rope will leave them with questions. I would like to think that the play encourages men and women to think about the idea of women's sexuality in society and the ways in which it is marginalized along with the double standards that exist between men's sexuality and women's sexuality.

Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
Sexy... definitely. Sensual, Sultry, Saucy, Sassy, and Significant.

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
It can definitely be a conduit to inspire change. Theatre is a platform for a voice and an experience to be heard and felt. It can definitely get the ball rolling, however it is a collective effort. The theatre can provide a voice for change and hopefully an audience member who is affected by that voice will then take action to create the change they seek. Change has to transcend from being a mere concept to something that is actively pursued.