March 7, 2013

Writing exercise births comedic play

WESTPORT — Spoon up homemade soup, break some bread, and listen to “Bat Jar,” written by artistic director Shami McCormick, at the Depot Theatre’s monthly “Soup & A Play Reading” Sunday evening.

“It’s not political; it’s not controversial; it’s comedic,” McCormick said. “It takes place in a restaurant that’s about to open and (is) going through its last finishing touches. The grand opening is the following week, and these people come to this private dining room.”

The protagonist Julie, a young chef, introduces her parents — a criminal investigator and an English teacher — to her fiancé’s parents — a hair-salon mogul and his much-younger wife, a former arms dealer.

“The problem is they come from two different worlds, and they’re trying to plan the wedding, and they have different perspectives of what kind of wedding and what the elements of the wedding should be,” McCormick said.

The play’s title pairs Julie’s and her fiancé’s initials, which are central to one of the conflicts.

“Between bad service and different viewpoints, these people are trying to move forward with a plan that can please all of them. The characters are a lot of fun to me. My goal was to put four people in a room that would not be together normally and see what happens,” McCormick said.

“Bat Jar” is the result of a writing exercise given to McCormick by playwright Debbie Brevoort at a playwriting workshop at Rollins College in Winterpark, Fla.

“The assignment is to put a group of people in a place and write for 10 minutes, but in that 10 minutes you can’t have them discuss religion, politics, their health, the weather or say anything confrontational.

“Then, you change the rules for one of the characters and write for another 15 minutes. You go through and keep changing the rules. It’s an exercise in writing quickly and creating both character and structure rapidly.”

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