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An interview with Robert Caisley

By Gary Wien


"Lucky Me", the latest work by playwright Robert Caisley, will be presented by New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch, NJ. The show runs from July 31 to August 31, 2014.

Sara Fine's having a bad week. The light bulbs in her apartment keep burning out; the aquarium is perpetually full of dead fish; the cat's gone AWOL, again, and her blind, elderly father -- who chased off her last beau -- is immediately suspicious of Tom, the new neighbor, a TSA agent who just brought Sara home from the emergency room on New Year's Eve with a fractured 5th metatarsal. As Tom's attraction to Sara intensifies, he learns of an increasingly bizarre streak of bad luck that's been haunting Sara for years – twenty two years to be precise.

Sara Fine sounds like an interesting character.
I've got some friends who think they are either lucky or unlucky and whenever I ask them to provide me with any evidence to support their theory, it seems like the same kinds of things that happen to me. So, I started thinking about a character who, in many ways, sort of wills herself to be the unfortunate, unlucky individual she claims to be.

But what we find out in the play is that its just coincidental. And all it takes is somebody to not be frightened off by her bad luck to sort of turn around her life.

I personally think this is a comedy, but it does have a dark side to it. I really wanted to write a play that was broader in its comic appeal and also had a real romantic center to it. I described it to myself as a romantic comedy.

So I thought about a woman that's incredibly unlucky -- not only in love, but in life in general -- and just design a series of bizarre things that happen to her that don't seem to happen to anyone else, and then introduce a love interest and see what happens when he tries to deal with the various issues she has.

NJ Rep is one of the theaters that really believes in and depends on producing new work. How important is it for a playwright to have theatres like that? Many theatres consider new works a harder sell.
Yeah, what's interesting about that is I teach theatre history at the University of Idaho and I'm still trying to figure out where in the history of theatre did we get this obsession with the distinction between new plays and plays that have been done before? Because I think the golden age of dramatic writing in the United Kingdom was during the Elizabethan period when Shakespeare was writing.

Shakespeare made his career on new plays and he was competing with a bunch of other playwrights who were writing insatiably to meet the demands of an audience who only wanted to see the next new play.

I'm not sure if it's the cost of theatre has become such that theatres have to market something other than the thing itself that they are producing, which is the story told in front of a live audience by live actors, or something else. Somewhere along the way, the theatre establishment made the audience adopt this prejudice towards a new play being something of a risk and an old chestnut being a guarantee of entertainment.

Personally, I've had some of my most thrilling experiences in the theater seeing something that's never been done before and I've had some of the most God awful experiences in the theatre seeing plays that for hundreds of years have been touted as tried and true classics!

It's absolutely vital that theatres like NJ Rep continue to have a robust production calendar. I only wish more professional theatre companies took the same view of new work and were excited by new work as opposed to being nervous or cautious or daunted by the fact that they've never heard of the play or the playwright.

NJ Rep is a particularly great theatre for playwrights like myself to collaborate with because they not only do new work, but they do them really well. And they market them to the audience like "It you don't see it now, you're going to miss the chance to see it for the very first time." Plus many plays have gone on to have an afterlife beyond NJ Rep.



For more by this author, click here






Holmdel Theatre Company Presents 'ART'
(HOLMDEL, NJ) – The Holmdel Theatre Company (HTC) will present 6 performances of Yasmina Reza’s ‘ART’  from December 7th through December 16th. Translated from French by Christopher Hampton, the play tells the story of what happens when Serge buys an expensive painting, and the reactions of his two closest friends, Marc and Yvan, to his purchase. As what begins as a discussion about the quality of the painting that Serge has purchased quickly devolves into petty jabs and personal attacks, the three men border on destroying their friendships.
Pebble Players Presents "Heathers, the Musical: High School Edition"
(SUMMIT, NJ) -- Celebrating their 10th season, Pebble Players has been entertaining Summit residents and audiences from surrounding towns with sophisticated Off-Broadway quality performances. The 2018 Season opens with "Heathers The Musical: High School Edition," directed by Jayne Myers and choreographed by Jaimie Woodruff.  Performances are Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17 at 7:30pm and Sunday, November 18 at 2:00pm. 
NJPAC Presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies
(NEWARK, NJ) -- New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies from Thursday, March 21, 2019 - Saturday, March 23, 2019. The high-style music of “The Duke” is the heart and soul of this 1981 Tony-winning Broadway hit, directed with dazzle by André De Shields (The Wiz). Mercedes Ellington, granddaughter of Duke Ellington, re-creates the original show’s elegant dancing and tapping as choreographer.
Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater present Teahouse by Lao She
(PRINCETON, NJ) --Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present Teahouse by Lao She on November 16, 17 and 18 at 8:00pm and November 17 at 2:00pm in the Donald G. Drapkin Studio at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus. Teahouse is considered a masterpiece of contemporary Chinese theater, spanning 50 years in modern Chinese history from the collapse of the Qing dynasty and the Republican Revolution to the birth of the People’s Republic, bringing together over sixty characters who represent all walks of life. The production is directed by senior Changshuo Liu.
Axelrod's Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts Program Presents "Peter Pan"
(OCEAN TOWNSHIP, NJ) --  A family musical that’s perfect for the holiday season, “Peter Pan” is flying onto the Axelrod stage December 8-16. Axelrod’s award-winning Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts program presents one of Broadway’s timeless classics in a fully staged production directed by Lisa Goldfarb with musical direction by Randy Hurst and choreography by Wendy Roman.  


Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s Friday, October 26, 2018, and the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast is just about ready to take the stage at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ.
The Last Apple Pie: "Apples In Winter" Opens At Centenary Stage
Jennifer Fawcett’s new play centers around a mother in a kitchen, doing something countless people across America will take part in over the upcoming holiday season: making an apple pie.
See Andrea McArdle LIVE! in Annie at Deal Park’s Axelrod PAC!
Leapin’ Lizards! Annie’s finally made it to the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal Park, NJ, and it stars Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle, as Miss Hannigan!
"It's a Blast!" Go See Rock of Ages 10th Anniversary Tour NOW! at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino!
The five-time Tony award-nominated Broadway musical, Rock of Ages, returns to the stage with a 10th Anniversary Tour at Atlantic City’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino! Performed in the venue’s ultra-modern Sound Waves theater, Rock of Ages runs from now until November 4, 2018.
There's One In Every Family: "Charley's Aunt" at The Shakespeare Theatre
On stage now through November 18 at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, “Charley’s Aunt” is described as “part Oscar Wilde, part ‘Fawlty Towers,’ with a dash of South American spice!” This side-splitting British farce from 1892 has drag, mistaken identity, romance and plenty of physical comedy. Join Jesse and Dave at rehearsals in Florham Park to hear from the cast and director what makes this such a hilarious and enduring show.






Event calendar
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018


MUSIC

New Politics @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE REPUTATIONS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

TOTO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


THEATRE

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

ANNIE, The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 7:30pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 7:30pm

Spring Awakening: The Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm







DANCE

PARSONS DANCE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


FILM

Crybaby Matinee: March of the Penguins @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

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