I think I watched the whole video performance of my play with a smile on my face. I’ll have to watch it again to be more objective. DEAR ACTORS – thank you! I’m so thrilled with your performances, you don’t know how happy you have made me. I think the actress who played Maggie (Marsha Mason) is amazing. From now on, I’ll only see her in the role!
– Gina Surles, on her reaction watching the PAPER WALL reading at the WILDsound Festival (Review)
Gina’s amazing play PAPER WALL was just performed at a recent WILDsound Festival. Watch it here:
A New York playwright who hasn’t produced anything in ten years, struggles to complete a new play while having major repairs done to a wall in her apartment, while alternately being helped and hindered by an ex-stripper, a priest, and a carpenter.
NARRATOR – Amaka Umeh
MAGGIE – Marsha Mason
CATHERINE – Michelle Alexander
FATHER FRANK – Geoff Mays
THOMAS – Rob Notman
WILDsound’s Matthew Toffolo chatted with Gina about Paper Wall.
Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to write this play?
Gina: I wanted something on a small scale that would be relatively easy to produce, yet, something that had interesting characters that actors would enjoy playing. My first love has always been acting and, for me, it felt natural for acting and writing to go hand in hand. I’ve written a few screenplays but I love plays, too, and I love actors and I’m always amazed at how they bring words to life and communicate a story. I wanted to try writing in a different format and felt inspired to write a play.
As far as subject material, well, for both actors and writers, we deal with so much rejection on a daily basis, both from others and within ourselves, questioning our abilities or hiding behind something. It was a theme I wanted to explore through Maggie. She was knocked so low to the point where hope was a very dim light yet there’s a point where we realize we have to take the action. And I’m attracted to underdog characters that find a way to overcome their fears.
MT: You have four characters in this play, each with a full story arc. Are these characters based on anyone?
Gina: No, there characters are not based on anyone. I wanted each to have a secret that affected their behavior and that they needed to overcome in order to change. Except for Thomas, really. He pretty much stays the same but causes change to happen in the other characters. As he rebuilds Maggie’s wall, he also helps rebuild Maggie’s self-esteem.
MT: What is the theme of your play? What are you really trying to say?
Gina: A few themes, overcoming our fears, dropping our facade however fragile it may be, having belief in ourselves, trying to prove your own worth to people who have the ability to help you. What I think I was trying to say was almost a pep talk for myself in a way, through Maggie, and also through Thomas, he being the voice of reason, saying, yes, we can make changes, we can move on, we just have to believe it and then take action. The hardest part is actually believing it can be done. The intruding self-doubt. It seems many of us take the easy way out when the going gets tough, we have a plan B that we can fall back on and that is more comfortable. But Thomas would say forget plan B, just believe in plan A and follow through.
MT:The role of Father Frank is interesting. Why do you think he finally revealed his secret?
Gina: I think Father Frank was fed up with himself and because of his feelings for Catherine, he wanted to come clean. Thomas also had a role in confronting him, in seeing through his facade. As much as Father Frank pushed to manipulate, Thomas pushed harder to confront his bullying.
MT: Maggie is someone who’s locked inside in more ways than one. And a character many of us can relate with. How would you describe your main character?
Gina: I love Maggie, and I love how the actor portrayed her (thank you!!!). Actually I think all five of the actors (I’m including the narrator) were awesome! I think Maggie is a lot like myself, tough on the outside but feels necessary to hide her vulnerability. Frustrated, hopeful, needing to create, wanting her voice to be heard. She’s trying to stay ahead of the constant rejection, yet she knows her talent is there, she, like so many of us, just needs to get it into the right hands.
MT: Catherine is a total free spirit who seems to really like herself. After the play ends, where do you think she ends up?
Gina: I think Catherine and Frank actually make a good go of things. She always wanted to be a dancer so I think she opens her own dance school!
MT: Thomas is a man who seems like really understand who he is. What attracts him to Maggie?
Gina: I don’t think he’s attracted to Maggie at first, until he sees some of her work and begins to understand what is behind her “facade.” As he said, he appreciates artists and when he understands her difficulties, he feels sympathetic first, and then the relationship develops from there.
MT: Do you have a favorite play?
Gina: Yes. In 2006 I was in London and saw “A Voyage Round My Father” with Derek Jacobi. Oh, my God. I think the combination of the material and Sir Derek’s acting was INCREDIBLE! His performance made me want to keep doing both, writing and acting.
MT: What influenced you to submit to the WILDsound Festival?
Gina: I only submit to contests that offer feedback so that’s why I submitted here. I wanted to get an idea of where I needed to improve the script and never thought it would win a table read. I live in Honolulu and have extremely limited access to anyone who is willing or qualified to give me feedback on my writing. IT’S SO FRUSTRATING.
MT: Thank You
Watch other winning readings from the festival at http://www.wildsoundfestival.com
Submit our story/script/play to the festival at http://www.wildsound.ca
Submit your Stage Play to the festival at http://www.wildsound.ca/play_contest.html