Monday, October 29, 2012

An Interview With Sharyn Rothstein, the Author of March

Over the summer one of our interns, Jeremy, had the chance to interview Sharyn Rothstein about her play March. Here's what Sharyn had to say about March, the internet, and more! 

Q. Where did you get the idea for the play?
A. I had been wanting to write a play about that time in life when you suddenly realize the world is bigger than your family, and I happened to read an article in the New York Times about role-playing games. In the article the writer cited some statistics that most people on these games choose to create avatars that are very similar to who they are in real life. I thought that was fascinating: that people would engage in an online world to alter their reality, and then makes choices that actually mimic their real lives. And I thought it was very fitting to the nature of adolescence, when we’re trying to be independent, but are still figuring out who that independent person really is. Suddenly, I knew that these two teenagers who form the heart of the play would meet in an online world.

Q. Did you play online role-playing games prior to writing March?
A. I dabbled in the Sims while growing up. When I started writing the play, I signed up for a couple of different games just to make sure that I understood the world and vocabulary. I was amazed by how complex these games have become, and how diverse.

Q. How do you think the Internet and online personas have changed people, families, and communities?
A. For this play, I was mostly interested in how the internet has changed what it means to be a teenager. It used to be that if you weren’t allowed to leave your house or your neighborhood, your frame of reference was severely limited. But now, any kid with a computer can log on and meet people all over the world. The way we make and keep friends has changed radically, and we now have the ability to share intimate details about our families and our lives with people we’ve never even met. For the characters in March, an online persona means escape and adventure are possible in a way that wasn’t imaginable for people who grew up before the internet.

Q. Have people reacted to the play in a way that surprised you?
A. One of the most consistent and consistently surprising reactions to the play is that audiences really embrace a show where the internet isn’t evil or dangerous, but actually a place where people can meet each other and share ideas and conversation. The internet has become such an integral part of our lives, but entertainment still seems to focus on its negatives, which I don’t think reflects reality. I’ve also been happily surprised by how easily audiences understand and enjoy seeing avatars on stage – for most people it’s a new theatrical experience, which is exciting, and they love that they can still connect emotionally with the characters.

Q. What are you currently working on? 
A. I have two new plays in development. Queen Bee, a dramedy about an upper-middle class American woman who gets kidnapped by Somali pirates, just had a reading at Ars Nova in New York. My newest play, All The Days, is just making its way out of my laptop and into the world… please wish it luck! 

Please join us for March, our LAST SHOW in Palo Alto, November 8th thru December 2nd. You can look up the cast, watch some videos, and more here! You can meet Sharyn after the show on Saturday, November 24th. Tickets are now available online or by calling 1-800-838-3006.

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