Author of La Lune [Cupcake Reading Series, October 2011]
Andrea Nelson is a Seattle based actor, playwright and sometimes director. As an actor she has performed with Book-It, Ghostlight Theatricals, Live Girls!, Pork Filled Players and Bellevue Civic, among others. She recently directed The Hole Story for Live Girls! Theater’s Quckies Volume 12. Her one woman show, Going Home, in which she plays a 91 year old woman in tribute to her grandmother, recently debuted as a part of 12 Minutes Max at On the Boards. She is also the author of Woombies, a one-woman show about her experience growing up as an identical twin. She is a company member of Live Girls! Theater, currently serving as the Director of Communications. When Andrea exits stage left, she can be found teaching at Youth Theatre Northwest, freelancing as a Sign Language interpreter and cuddling with her fabulous husband (Brad) and their two sweet cats (Franny and Zooey).
Where did the idea for La Lune come from?
If I’m going to be really specific, the idea traces back to a picture I took in New Orleans when I was 16. It is of a busker in the French Quarter. He was in a wedding dress, with white clown cake makeup, a wig and lipstick, but with hairy armpits and stubble under his makeup. He wasn’t performing so much as just standing on a milk crate. For some reason, there was something about the photo that just stuck with me. His appearance was so odd and the expression in his eyes was so sad. The next year in school we had a poetry section and one of the assignments was to write a poem inspired by a photo. I used this photo to write a poem called The Sad Clown. It started me on a bit of an obsession with the circus.
The idea for this script actually began as a one person show. The concept was that the clown would be in his dressing room, putting on makeup. The forth wall would be his mirror and by the end of the play he would be fully made-up and ready to make his entrance. I was thinking about everything behind the scenes in circus life that is hidden to the audience. All the makeup and costumes that hide the people underneath. I love the initial, free-writing stages of creating a script because of the way ideas seem to come not from my head, but emerge on the page. When I put my pen to paper, the main character came out as a trapeze artists and a series of other characters made themselves known as well. They clearly told me it was not meant to be a one-person show.
What is your favorite moment in the play?
When Rusty and Jean are trying to pick shapes out of imaginary clouds indoors. Really, almost every moment between Rusty and Jean are my favorites.
Who is your current playwright talent crush?
I saw 3 Tall Women at Seattle Rep last Fall and I was mesmerized. It made me want to see everything I can from Edward Albee. I saw a fantastic production of The Skriker directed by Beth Raas-Bergquist that made me rethink my feelings for Caryl Churchill. It’s either that I love her plays on stage but not the page, or I just have a crush on Beth’s directing.
What advice would you give to aspiring playwrights?
Don’t ever edit an idea by telling yourself, “that would never happen”. Truth is stranger than fiction.
What kind of theater do you love?
I love when playwrights recognize that even in the midst of tragedy there is comedy. In real life, humans often cope with humor. I appreciate writers who remember that.
What are you currently working on?
La Lune is in a relatively early stage, so after this reading I plan to rewrite and expand. It is currently a one-act, but I see it becoming a full length script. My one-woman show, Going Home, does not feel like it has seen the last light of day yet, either. I wrote this version based on my own stories and knowledge of my grandmother. Next, I will interview my mother and aunt and do some family research to continue on the journey of that piece. It’s a very emotional piece for me, though, so I have to pace myself. My husband and I want to do something together with film. There is a short bit tentatively titled The Adventures of Bertie Bigfoot, centered around a 10 foot tall wooden Sasquatch my brother-in-law carved with a chainsaw, that is currently in an early germination stage. Bertie competes in a B-list beauty pageant.
Outside of theater, what are you really into right now?
Yoga. My family. My tiny, tiny garden. Vegetarian cooking. My mother and I recently canned tomatoes. For awhile I’ve been really into figuring out what products I would normally purchase that I can make for myself: granola, deodorant, hair gel, cleaning products. I have a fantasy of being an urban homesteader.
Do you have a favorite and least favorite word?
I make most of my living as a Sign Language interpreter, so I become enamored with a rotating slew of signs. With words, I love ones that taste delicious to say. I don’t think I have a least favorite word. Even awful words have their place when used in the right context. It’s all about conveying the accurate meaning.
Is there a question you would like to see posed to playwrights featured in future spotlights?
What is the most challenging aspect of playwrighting for you?