We were so lucky to have Judy Moody & Stink playwright Allison Gregory visit OCT for our first week of rehearsal! We asked Allison to tell us a little about what it's like to write a play and what has been different and exciting about writing this world premiere show!
OCT: What is your favorite part of the playwriting process? What is most challenging?
Allison Gregory: I’m always excited about starting a new play. Creating a new world with fresh characters is a thrill because I get to make up the rules! I choose when and why they say what they say or do what they do, and the consequences. The tricky part is there are no rules, which is like driving a car in the dark with no headlights! I don’t know where the road is, or where I am going. I just have to follow my instincts. That’s always the challenge: to trust yourself — but to have skill enough to not drive off the road.
OCT: What made you decide to apply to write the adaptation for Judy Moody? Were you familiar with the book series?
AG: I wasn’t familiar with the book or the series, but I knew and respected some of the artistic directors who developed the idea; I figured if they were involved it would be a worthy project, so I threw my hat into the ring. The more I read the books, the more I could envision bringing Judy Moody (and Stink, and Scurvy Sam, and everyone else) to life onstage.
OCT: What is your process typically like when you write a play? Was writing Judy different from what you normally do?
AG: This play is an adaptation; I altered the source material to suit a different medium: book to stage. Most of my plays are original stories — meaning I invent the characters, the world they inhabit, and the circumstances. Starting with an existing book is like having an outline, or Google Maps: you kind of know where you’re starting from and where you’re going, but the route isn’t always correctly marked. There are roadblocks, streets only go one way or stop at dead-ends. A book can’t live onstage because it relies on an internal narrative; as an adapter I have to constantly rethink things to theatricalize the story. It’s creative and it’s a lot of problem solving, which is probably why I like doing adaptations so much.
OCT: What was it like having the input of so many different theater companies for this script?
AG: It’s a terrific group of savvy, smart, generous collaborators; it’s been a blast. And I expect the fun to continue, because the artistic directors from each theater will see and weigh in on this production to determine how their theater might approach the play. What works in this production may or may not fly in the next one, depending on the configuration of the stage, the size of the audience, the ability of the actors, etc. I’m eager to attend to each production across the country to help make this play work for each theater.
OCT: What do you think some of the differences will be for how the other theater companies present Judy Moody?
AG: I have no idea, that’s why it feels like an adventure!
OCT: What makes you most excited about this play?
AG: Knowing how much fun audiences are going to have following the characters as they put the clues together — and possibly figuring out the clues themselves. I also think the sets and costumes for this production are wonderful, it’s going to look fantastic.
OCT: Anything else you would like to add?
AG: We’ve worked hard to make this play as fun and engaging for parents as it is for their kids or grandkids. There’s truly something for everyone. I guarantee if you come to this show you're going to have a great time!
Allison Gregory Bio
Allison’s plays for young audiences include Go Dog. Go!, adapted from the P.D. Eastman book and co-written with Steven Dietz; Even Steven Goes to War (AATE and UPRP awards; Kennedy Center New Visions/New Voices selection); Peter and the Wolf (National tour), Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells!, and Junie B. is Not A Crook (200+ professional productions), adapted from the beloved book series by Barbara Park. Her play Ronia: the Robber’s Daughter, adapted from Astrid Lindgren’s story, premiered at Teatr Pinokio in Poland this year. Judy Moody & Stink will premiere at OCT before moving on to productions at all seven commissioning theaters. Allison splits her time between Seattle and Austin. She loves horses, homemade cookies, laughing, and her kids Ruby and Abraham. www.allisongregoryplays.com
Judy Moody & Stink: The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt is a rolling world premiere with seven theaters across the nation. It opens at OCT October 21st at the Newmark Theatre. Click here for tickets and more info!