Interview with "Love All" writer, Lojo Simon
Q: Your plays have the quality of fine short stories, with strong and intriguing themes and compelling characters taking us into distinct worlds. Do you have particular storytelling goals in mind when you write a play - what the story should be, how it should unfold - or do you let the voices of the characters guide you?
A: I often start with a question or subject that intrigues me, such as what would it be like if I found out the person closest to me was hiding a big secret, or how does someone have faith in a world of uncertainty? I start with a premise, set up or situation that lends itself to conflict and drama (or comedy), and challenge the characters to work their way through it. I never know how they will do that until they act. It’s like reading a mystery, and I have to keep going to find out what happens.
Q: You came to the theatre from journalism. How does having a journalism background help a playwright?
A: There are lots of parallels between journalism and playwriting. I’m very interested in various ways of telling a story and how story changes with point-of-view, which is a topic I explore in LOVE ALL. As a journalist, I learned to listen for my subject’s (character’s) unique voice – how they speak as well as what they say. Writing for magazines and newspapers was, for me, an exercise in capturing voice and story through quotes – essentially dialogue – so you can clearly see how one discipline led to the other.
Q: Your playwriting career seems to be gathering momentum. In the last 18 months, works of yours have been produced or staged in Washington, Idaho, Southern California, Tennessee, and Texas. Do you think there are particular qualities in your plays that attract theatres and directors?
A: From your mouth to God’s ears, as they say, or at least to the ears of Artistic Directors, who are sort of gods of theatre. Choosing plays to produce is an art in itself, part instinct, part business, part magic. I write about topics that interest me, but I also keep practical considerations in mind, like production costs. Hopefully, my aesthetic is appealing, but in the end, there are so many factors beyond my control when it comes to programming that I can only write what I believe in and pray someone takes notice and wants to produce it.
Q: In tennis, "love all" is the score when the match begins, when the opponents first meet. In another, non-tennis context, that phrase can also be interpreted as a command to love each other, to love generously. In telling the story of a marriage, a family, and a secret, how did that phrase suggest itself?
A: I retitled this play several times in the revision process, ultimately settling on “Love All” when I realized how much Timothy Gallwey’s book The Inner Game of Tennis influenced the life choices, story and perspective of the character of John, who is a catalyst for the play’s action.
Q: Lastly, could you tell us about the Bare Bones Theatre new play reading series you are involved with in Laguna Beach?
A: Bare Bones produces readings of (mostly) new plays and musicals at an artist’s studio in Laguna Canyon. What makes the project unique, other than the venue, is that each performance is followed by a facilitated community conversation about important issues raised in the plays, such as interfaith marriage, returning war vets, and death and grieving. I curate the series by looking for work that provokes thoughtful conversation, thus I call it “theatre you can chew on.” The post-play conversations are the meat on bare bones readings. Anyone who would like to get on our email list to learn about upcoming events should email me at BareBonesRSVP@gmail.com.
Lojo Simon's "Love All" opens this year's OC-centric festival August 18 @ 8pm. Subsequent performances are August 19 @ 8pm, August 27 @ 2pm and August 28 @ 7pm.
For tickets, call 714.902.5716, email us (firstname.lastname@example.org), or CLICK HERE.