I rarely go see plays twice. That’s the sort of things I reserve for Shakespeare or Arthur Miller. But this summer I broke down and went to see “The Charitable Sisterhood of the Second Trinity Victory Church,” the Barksdale Production playing at Hanover Tavern. My husband got two comp tickets from a friend in the cast and when he invited me, I said yes, then when I heard the words “World Premier,” I said, um, “I’ve changed my mind.” Granville pointed out the cast was excellent and it was time for me to see a Bo Wilson play.
I liked the play so much I invited a few girlfriends over for dinner a few days later and drove them over to the theater. I even laughed as much the second time. What can I say about a play set in a small Southern town about five colorful women who get stuck in a church basement during a flashflood? Good writing, good acting. A play you may even think about a few days hence because of some of the emotions it touches upon. And I love stories that make me laugh and make me tear up, the best drama in by book, and Mr. Wilson certainly succeeds with both.
I emailed the playwright a few questions and he was kind enough to respond.
1) Themes of this current play?
I’m not a writer who pays much attention to theme. In my experience,
thinking about theme instead of about the mechanics of story and the
truth of characters leads to false and self-aware work. My opinion is
that “theme” is another word for “things the writer believes to be true
about the world.” If I’m writing honestly, I don’t need to worry about
which truths I’m promulgating. I’ll leave that to the grad students. 🙂
2) What was your intent when you were writing this?
I had several intents:
I wanted to write a play for three of the most talented actresses I
knew. (Jan, Cathy, Debra)
I wanted to write a play that would be produced by Va Rep so that I
could actually USE those actresses.
I wanted to write a play that would be pleasing to the Hanover Tavern
audience, which enjoys comedies that have a heart and a soul.
I wanted to write a play that would be both more honest and more
entertaining than the rash of “church basement ladies” plays that seem
to have washed over the landscape just lately. I wanted to do those
plays one better. And a person who listens to “Charitable Sisterhood”
VERY carefully will find a veiled reference to one of those other plays 🙂
3) What makes this play special?
I don’t wish to be difficult, but that’s not really for me to say, you
know? I suppose if we want to be strictly literal about the word
“special” we could safely say that it is the only “Charitable
Sisterhood” Bo Wilson has written. But beyond that…. I mean, I know
what’s special about it to me: What’s special to me is the fact that so
many of those early intentions listed above have actually come to
fruition. That’s very rare, and it feels very good.
4) What is next for you on the horizon?
For this play: A production by ActorsNET of Buck’s County PA in
September, and hopefully more productions soon. I’ve heard from four or
five different producers in just the last four days. It’s exciting.
Apart from “Charitable Sisterhood,” my play “The Boatwright” has its
world premiere at the Civic Theatre of Grand Rapids (Michigan) this fall
and it will be published by Dramatic Publishing later this year. Then
my adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” entitled “Mr. Dickens’ Christmas
Carol,” will receive its world premiere by Henley Street
Theatre/Richmond Shakespeare, opening downtown in Richmond the day after
Thanksgiving. My play “Manly Men” is playing at Theatre of Dare in
Manteo NC in spring of 2015. And I’m directing “Angels in America” for
the Richmond Triangle Players in March/April of 2015.
5) How long will this be at the Tavern?
We run until August 24. I wish we could extend, but I don’t think we
can, because of the next show coming in.
6) What has the reaction to this play been? Why have people liked it so
People certainly do seem to like it very much. They laugh a LOT. I
think there are many reasons. The performances are wonderful– writing
for these ladies is maybe the smartest thing I’ve done lately. I think
the material is pretty funny, too… but I also think it addresses some
very interesting topics of faith in ways that don’t feel too ponderous
or foreboding. We like these ladies, we want to hear what they have to
say, and we want them to take care of one another. Those things will
carry you a pretty good way down the road to success. 🙂