The Way West
nytheatre.com q&a preview by Mona Mansour
October 26, 2012
What is your job on this show?
When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
I saw a production of SKIN OF OUR TEETH when I was like fifteen or sixteen. The way the play burst out, into the section with Finnegans Wake, etc., was one of the most moving and surprising things I'd ever seen.
Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
I love that theater is still something that requires people to show up, be in the room together in real time. Shaping that time is a huge responsibility. And I love that each of us - writer, actor, director, designer - plays a part in that.
In your own words, what do you think this show is about? What will audiences take away with them after seeing it?
I've been writing about the Middle East, where my father is from. This play is about my mother's world, the Western United States, and specifically California. It's about family, and money, the lack of money, family (yes I'm saying that twice), and the economy. And it's seen through the prism of a mother who is obsessed with the 19th-century western migration. She'd rather talk about some mythical pioneer than deal with her own impending bankruptcy.
Which famous New Jerseyite would like your show the best: Snooki, Bruce Springsteen, Thomas Edison?
I'd like to think Bruce Springsteen! We have songs, short songs, and one of our actresses, Nadia Bowers, plays a mean acoustic guitar to accompany.
How important is diversity to you in the theater you see/make?
Diversity is extremely important! My goal, particularly in my plays about the Middle East, is to change the way people think about "Arabs" -- and in some ways to have them see those characters as just as fallible, flawed, and complex as any character in a play.