To the absolute delight of the Bobcat Players, we were honored to snag an interview with the playwright of our upcoming production! Barbara Pease Weber so generously agreed to talk to us about the inspirations behind Foolish Fishgirls and the Pearl--and more. Her answers below will provide you with a greater insight into this fabulous comedy.
Casey: First and foremost, I want to thank you so much for taking the time for our small community theatre! We are thrilled to be doing your show, and are so excited that you have taken an interest in our production. Can you tell us a little bit about your background in theater?
Barbara: I've acted in Philadelphia theaters on and off since 1975 when I was a senior in high school. My husband and I met while doing a play together at the Abbey Stage Door in 1976. I've played roles such as "Nurse Ratched" in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Sister Alysious Bouvier in Doubt, Florence Unger in the female version of The Odd Couple, Mama in I Remember Mama, Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire, Elaine Navazio in Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Lee in Marvin's Room, Charlotte in Moon Over Buffalo, Maria in Lend Me a Tenor, and good grief--so many others I can hardly remember! I have also produced and directed many shows. Having Samuel French publish my plays, and having them performed all over the country--and around the world--is the most amazing and exciting thing ever. I still can't believe my dream came true!
Casey: Wow! It's obvious theatre has always been a huge part of your life. So what was your inspiration for writing Foolish Fishgirls and the Pearl?
Barbara: I've always loved mermaid stories and fairytales, but they never tell you "what happens next." I have a pretty creative--or as my husband would say, "overactive"--imagination and got to thinking...what if...the happily ever after for a mermaid isn't so "happy" after all? What would the story look like then? And, how could I make this funny? And so Foolish Fishgirls... was born from this premise.
Casey: It seems that the majority of your works are heavily influenced by folklore and fairytales. Why do you think that audiences relate to these kinds of stories?
Barbara: I like to write what interests me, and I've always loved fairytales. My fairytales are geared towards grown-ups, but I try to write them so the whole family can enjoy. So far, it's served me pretty well; I'm really fortunate to have had my plays performed coast-to-coast and beyond. My children are now grown, but I can't tell you the hours I've clocked watching fairytale videos with them over the years. As they were into their tapes (VHS--pre-dating DVDs!), my mind would wander and I'd be thinking of the "flip side" of the story. But of course, not all of my comedies are fairytale-based.
Casey: What do you enjoy most about writing comedies and what is your greatest challenge in doing so?
Barbara: I love making people laugh, whether being on stage in a show or writing comedies. Hearing people laugh at the words I speak [when acting on stage] is a huge thrill. Even more thrilling is hearing people speak the words I write, and having people in the audience laugh. But there are so many challenges about writing! For one, coming up with an idea for a story is a challenge in and of itself. Finding time to develop the [plot] and write the script is a challenge. Making sure it's funny without being offensive, crude, or rude is a challenge; that is, I don't want to offend anyone with my writing. I just want to make them laugh! And finally, getting it right is a challenge. I'm still working on each of these challenges!
Casey: You've certainly mastered those challenges with Foolish Fishgirls and the Pearl. So do you have a favorite character in the show? Were any of them based on people in your own life?
Barbara: As I write the characters, I act each role out in my head. I kind of cast myself as Coral as I was writing Fishgirls. I visualized an actress friend of mine in the role of Marina, and another friend in the Oceana role. I actually wrote the role of Sheila specifically for the actress who played her in the Philly production, [who was] also a friend of mine. I don't actually have a favorite character in Fishgirls... but I will admit to really, really liking the Marina character! Because, let's face it, who among us doesn't have a hoity-toity know-it-all in our lives that we love to hate? That's Marina!
Casey: Very true! Now, there are a few obvious musical references within the play, with characters like "Pinky" Floyd and Captain & Toe Nail. Why is music important to the story?
Barbara: I'm a creature of the '70s. Can't help it!
Casey: Working on the soundtrack has proved very fun so far! Are you working on anything new that we might see on our stage in the near future?
Barbara: I've got a few things in my pipeline but, like I mentioned before, one of the challenges is finding the time! Meanwhile, I have five other comedies, all published by Samuel French, and I would be thrilled if you would also consider these for a future production with the Bobcat Players!
Casey: That sounds like a great idea. Any final words for our audiences?
Barbara: I hope your audiences enjoy the play and have a good laugh, and I hope that everyone involved with your production is having fun. Thank you so much for performing Foolish Fishgirls and the Pearl. Thank you for featuring me in your blog. This is such an honor!
Truly, the honor is all ours. When choosing this show for our season, we never imagined that we would be able to discuss the production with the playwright. The Bobcat Players are thrilled to have such an amazing resource in Barbara Pease Weber, and we are even more excited to announce that she will be attending our show! The pressure may be on, but we are certainly looking forward to showing her what our group is made of!
On the production end, Foolish Fishgirls and the Pearl is coming along "swimmingly!" Set construction began Saturday and painting will continue this Saturday. Check out pictures of our progress below and stay tuned for more in our next blog entry!
Don't forget that tickets are ON SALE NOW for Foolish Fishgirls and the Pearl! This show runs July 14-15 and 20-22 with all performances beginning at 7:30 pm. You can purchase online at bobcatplayers.yapsody.com or by visiting the Hostess Shoppe in Beaver. You can also reserve via phone by calling (724) 494-1680 and tickets are only $10!