New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

"The Calling" An Interview With
Playwright Joel Stone

By Gary Wien

originally published: 12/26/2017

"The Calling" An Interview With Playwright Joel Stone

New Jersey Repertory Company presents the World Premiere of The Calling by Joel Stone from January 4th through February 4th in Long Branch. This play was commissioned by NJPAC’s Stage Exchange in Association with the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and NJRep.

Stone, who was formerly the artistic director of Off-Off Broadway’s The Theatre Asylum, has written many short plays in the past 40 years, including several which have been presented at NJ Rep over the years.  For the past four years, he has been an adjunct professor of playwriting at Monmouth University and also taught the initial playwriting classes for New Jersey Repertory Company’s West End Arts Center. Currently, he is the literary manager for NJ Rep.

New Jersey Stage spoke with Stone about his new play and about his long-standing relationship with NJ Rep which dates back almost to the beginning of the company.

The Calling is billed as a heart-pounding, mind-bending psychological thriller, peppered with comic relief. What can you tell us about the play without giving away too much?

Well, that’s the problem.  With thrillers, the less you know the better.  It’s hard to describe, but I’d say it’s pretty much a comic psychological thriller about a priest who finds a man sleeping amongst his Church pews after a funeral service.  It turns out that this man is in need of spiritual guidance and things turn into a dangerous battle of wits between the priest and the man who is an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse.



The article continues after this ad

 


 

Was it difficult to find places for comic relief? Or did they sort of reveal themselves on their own?

The humor arose quite naturally from the interplay between my two characters. So many thrillers are just grim and without a little bit of comic relief they can be hard going.  The comic relief is also a way of providing the audience with temporary release from the suspense.

I actually found it quite easy to do and pleasant.  I was so happy that I found those moments or maybe they found me! Either way, it was wonderful.

"The Calling" An Interview With Playwright Joel Stone

This play is part of the NJPAC Stage Exchange series. What is it like to have a setup like this with a staged reading at NJPAC and a guaranteed production at a theatre later on?

It’s fantastic! First of all, you have to be at the top of your game.  Second, they require that the play be about a New Jersey subject.  That was one of the only qualifications.   It’s fantastic that you know, at some point, you come into a production.

The initial reading was wonderful.  We had a different cast, but the same director - Evan Bergman.  We learned so much from that reading.  Currently, it’s been a constant process of re-evaluating, rewriting, adapting to new actors, adapting to the set, and adapting to the reality of actually getting it on its feet.

When we applied they asked for three story ideas.  I submitted three and the one I least expected them to choose was the one they chose! It’s funny, I recently reread what I had proposed and although the subject matter is the same, my approach was totally different.  

 

Did the audience at NJPAC know that it was meant to be a little funny at points?

I don’t know, probably not. The subject matter is not funny, but I needed comic relief because the subject matter can be very difficult. When I look back at great thrillers, one of my favorites was Wait Until Dark by Frederick Knott - a play that also distracted you from what was going on with humor and warmth.  Those are wonderful ways of keeping audiences distracted.

 

This was your first full-length play in quite a while.

Yes, this was my first full-length play in about 44 years.

 

Did you find it difficult to move back to a full-length after writing so many short plays?

I thought I would, but I didn’t.  For years, Gabor and SuzAnne Barabas (of NJ Rep) have been waiting for me to write a full-length play.  Whenever anyone asked me, “Why aren’t you writing full length plays?” I would always answer, “I just don’t have that much to say!” For me, a 10-minute play is fine; I have it all in there.

I love the short play format, but The Calling, in a funny way, almost wrote itself.  I did three months of research, three months on the first act, and I believe the second act took me two weeks to finish.  It just flowed; it was a pleasure.

"The Calling" An Interview With Playwright Joel Stone

How did you first get involved with NJ Rep? You’ve been with them since the 90s.

Well, I’ve known SuzAnne since junior high school.  I’ve known her longer than Gabe has! I love them. They’re dear friends.  Twenty years ago, I directed their first script-in-hand reading, which was Horrors of Doctor Moreau - one of my plays that I had rewritten.  I’ve been their literary manager since late 2014.

 

What do you do in that role?

I’m a reader.  I evaluate whether or not a script would be appropriate for a script-in-hand reading for our subscription audience.  Sometimes the plays wind up being produced.

 

You’ve been with them long enough to see the West End Arts Center open.  What do you think about that facility and its potential?

I think the potential is unlimited.  It’s a wonderful space.  We had the Theatre Brut festival there and it was fantastic.  It could become a very vital part of the community.

 


NJ Rep Presents The Calling  January 4 - February 4, 2018 

The play stars Ames Adamson and Jared Michael Delaney. NJ Rep is located at  179 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ.  





For more by this author, click here






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.  
Mile Square Theatre Presents It’s a Wonderful Life: a live radio play
(HOBOKEN, NJ) --  Mile Square Theatre, Hudson County’s leading professional theatre, revives its beloved production of It’s a Wonderful Life: a live radio play by Joe Landry. Mile Square Theatre becomes a live recording studio in the golden age of radio, and MST theatre goers become the studio audience as WMST “goes on air” to broadcast Frank Capra’s popular holiday story. The production begins performances on Thursday, November 29 and runs till Sunday, December 23.  


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
Tuesday, Nov 13, 2018


MUSIC

MARCUS KING BAND WITH SPECIAL GUEST IDA MAE @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

Gunhild Carling & Friends @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 8:00pm

Toto—40 Trips Around the Sun @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm

Newark History Society Sarah "Sassy" Vaughan: The Life and Legacy of Newark's Own @ The Chase Room @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 7:00pm

Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird @ Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 8:00pm

Visiting Writers: Michael Waters @ Wilson Auditorium at Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 4:30pm







THEATRE

Seeger @ The Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College (RVCCArts), Branchburg - 1:00pm and 7:00pm

THE CHOIR OF MAN @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

OPEN Auditions for Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage @ Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts, Maplewood - 7:00pm

Auditions: Cinderella or the Story of Bigfoot @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 6:30pm

View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.