The Do-Gooders: Meet the Playwright!
Just ask director Shelly Cary--The Do-Gooders is unlike any script the Bobcat Players have previously tackled. We hope you'll enjoy the following interview, where we were fortunate to be able to talk with playwright Jessica Moss about her dynamite script!
Casey: Welcome, Jessica! We are so excited to be performing your piece, so thank you for the opportunity. You know, after having read The Do-Gooders over a year ago, and recently having seen the rehearsal process, I am just so curious to know who you are as person and playwright!
Jessica: I like to write, act, and produce--and aspire to one day be able to call myself an "artist" (I still feel I haven't earned the title, but I'm working on it!). I aspire to write emotional, female-centered comedy. I write fast-paced, overlapping, stylized but naturalistic dialogue in highly theatrical settings. I want the audience to feel seen, and to feel WELCOMED; to create spaces that feel like being loved, while still presenting rigorous and challenging work. I like emotions and honesty, and I’m not into irony or trying to appear smarter than I am. I want the audience to be laughing and then spontaneously burst into tears. I’m all about a dance number. I feel like I am always writing about ideas of identity, and reality, because I am constantly struggling with both my identity and my reality. My shows seem about little things but are secretly about big things--they seem funny but everyone in them is terrified. I love cinematic and theatrical techniques, and things that are simultaneously heightened and truthful. I’m interested in a profoundly emotional experience in the theatre: I want to be moved. I want to be changed. I want to be entertained while I’m having my DNA scrambled, or learning something new, or being argued against. I have a tremendous desire to see what is truthful, what is honest, to move beyond representation and towards something more real, usually by doing something more theatrical and less literal. C: I love that. So what inspired you to write The Do-Gooders and can you tell us about the process? J: I feel very torn between my own sense of altruism, and selfishness. Good Jess and Evil Jess. Helping Hand Jess vs. Stuffing Her Face While Watching Trash TV Jess. I feel completely overwhelmed with how we begin to do what is right in a world where we have so many overlapping problems. I'm told to eat one way for my health, but it's not the way that's best for the planet. I want to support small businesses, but I hate all the crap in my house and I don't have any money to spend. I want to make people in my life happy, but what if what makes them happy is capitalistic? Or upholds the patriarchy? Or hastens the warming of the planet? I find this tension truly maddening, but theatrically delicious. I always love when characters are trying their best, but failing miserably, and in trying to "do better," I think it's common to feel a sense of striving, of desire, of need to be a good person, to improve some aspect of the world, but to be frequently reminded that IT'S HARD and there's a high failure rate. People experiencing those two things, often at the same time, is hilarious, and painful: and that hilarious/painful sweet spot is what I'm always trying to hit. C: You certainly hit your mark with The Do-Gooders. How has the PNWF process been for you and what are you most looking forward to seeing with this production?
J: As we're all aware, this has been a very drawn out time of uncertainty. It's been strange for a play to kind of be "on ice" for a year as we waited to see what would happen. It's really sweet that it's actually going to happen. It's very very hard to get any acceptance, especially if you're a kind of weird writer, as I know that I am. I don't fit in to a lot of places and I feel very different from most theatre-people, so I've never had an artistic home and I don't often get to see my work performed. It's always a terrifying experience, but my plays are meant to be performed and to be shaped in performance and rehearsal. I am just hoping one day I get to be a part of a full-length rehearsal process of one of my plays in person, so I can watch it come into being! C: What are your future plans in terms of playwriting?
J: I don't know! COVID-19 has pushed so many of us to the point where it feels that it might no longer be possible to keep pursuing this career. I have a few pieces that I would love to see happen, and I have so many ideas that I need to try to get on paper before the end of the world (which could be any day now). I still write because it's how I make sense of the world.
The Do-Gooders opens in just a few days as part of the 2021 Pittsburgh New Works Festival, and there is still time to get your tickets! Performances take place September 2-5, with two shows on Saturday AND the capability to view online. You can purchase here and here, as well as read about safety protocols here. We can't wait to see you there!