BWW Interview: Playwright Georgina Escobar Brings 'Sci-Fi Feminism' to Aurora Theatre in SWEEP
This season at Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville, audiences get the chance to see the melding of sci-fi and feminism in a new way. Making its world premiere, Georgina Escobar's SWEEP introduces creative worlds and presents the constant theme of balance among the characters, letting audiences decide what deeper meanings they take away from it. The playwright says her goal is not to redefine feminism or preach at audiences, but rather open the door to new possibilities, pulling inspiration from her own experiences, growing up in "a matriarch family." Below, Escobar discusses her unique opportunity to dive into the rehearsal process of SWEEP alongside the Aurora team, as well as her insight into the impact of her play, and more!
How has SWEEP been going so far?
I was there for previews and for opening but then had to come back to New York, so I'm kind of having separation anxiety wondering how they're doing. I'm sure they're fine! I don't want to bother everybody asking them how the show's going, but I am curious. I think if I can change one person's heart at a time that's more than enough for me. I don't need the chatter, you know?
That's a great attitude to take towards it. What was your involvement through the rehearsal process?
The director invited me to, I believe it was the second week of rehearsals. I did a pretty significant amount of, not rewrites, but modifications and insertions of scenes and rearrangements, which you can only really do once you hear it and once you see all your choices on stage. It's a blessing to be able to do that, because it doesn't read the same way it did in your head.
What was it about being in the rehearsal process that showed you what things needed to be tweaked or changed or revitalized?
You know, I think it was a brilliant choice form the director to sort of unlock the first round of questions and choices by themselves without the playwright around, because then what happened was when I got there they had already taken it a certain direction. And then you can coalesce and see if your writing can strengthen that direction instead of reroute it or make it a little more confusing, especially with this play that is so intensely about world building. So that was the highlight of being involved in the rehearsal. And also knowing your limits. Knowing as a playwright that I can't possibly solve every question, because a lot of those questions are to be solved in the execution of the performers and how the audience receives it. There's a balance.
So was it freeing when you discovered that or was it hard to let go?
For me, it's absolutely freeing. I mean, I think that's the reason why I write plays instead of graphic novels or novels where the finality of it is up to how people interpret it, but you never get to really see that. So in this, it's freeing to see in this production, in this alchemy of elements, including the casting, the direction, the place, the city, make this production incredibly unique and incredibly of this time and of this space. And to me, that's very liberating. It's the reason to create plays.
It seems like SWEEP really just has to be seen instead of read about.
It's very hard to find what the nucleus of the story is, because what I find with this story is that it is about different things to different people, which is a great discovery to have about a piece.
How have you seen the way your show impacts audiences in different ways?
So what I walked away with is it suits younger audiences, and by "younger," I just mean "young at heart," or a little more intrepid when it comes to what they can do. And then I've also noticed there are people, especially older women, who were very, sort of, quiet about it. And then at the end, they were like, "This was mind-opening. I'm not sure what I'm hearing, but my brain has just been blown open." I think it's a good thing!
That sounds like it would be such a wonderful confirmation for you as a writer, for your baby to be consumed in this way.
Right. It definitely is. Everyone walks away with a different thought. This play is about, fill in the blank, and I think that there's incredible power in that, because it's not me assigning a meaning, but rather offering possibilities.
In what ways would you say you're striving for that in your play?
In my play, and really in everything I write, I think- I mean, I know- I come from a line of very strong women. We are a matriarch family, and I think I took for granted growing up that a female body could encompass these very strong positions and very intellectual stances. And then growing up and seeing the reality around that and seeing the oppression and discrimination, I was kind of blown away by my privilege in that sense. So that's what I seek to put in my writing. It's just what I know. It doesn't mean it's the right way or the wrong way; it's just a normal stance for me and for my family to question these things of "Where does the balance tip?" or "Where are we being unjust?" So it's more about writing what I know in that way.
What else would you like to share with BroadwayWorld's readers?
I'm going back [to Aurora] to direct the Spanish show next month, so I'm excited to get to know Aurora in a completely different setting as director. My goal is to see SWEEP in a variety of regional theatres- high school theatres, college theatres, professional theatres, because I think every interpretation of it has a merit that is beyond me that is about what the collaboration does to that group. So I just want to see it keep being contagious.
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Sweepers, Luna and Siri are the hitwomen of the multiverse armed with deadly broomsticks bound to sweep mistakes into oblivion. But when they fail to clean up Adam and Eve's apple situation they find themselves on a cosmic journey through time. With DRAGON CON sensibilities this play is rife with the humor and adventure of a great graphic novel. SWEEP runs through March 5, 2017. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit Aurora Theatre's website here.
Georgina Escobar is the maker of hyper-sensical, ridiculous, and sometimes impossible narratives that run current systems of thinking through different filters of human logic. She likes to illustrate, write, paint and compose music and do anything that empowers women and youth. She does this weird thing with speculative evolution comedies, takes a stab at sci-fi feminism, and is obsessed with creating huge, hyper-realistic, modern playgrounds for the stage.
Credits include: EL MUERTO VAGABUNDO "DEATH AND THE TRAMP" (Milagro Theatre, Portland OR 2016); SWEEP, (Aurora Theatre, GA 2017, Lincoln Center Director's Lab '16, LTC Carnaval 2015 at De Paul University '15, The Brooklyn Generator '14),The Unbearable Likeness of JONES (TMTC Reading NYC '16, Dixon Place NYC '15), The WAYFOOT Series (In development: INTAR, originally developed at the National Puppetry Conference, 2014), FIREROCK The Musical (Magic Theatre Workshop 2016, The Lensic Concert Version, 2012); ASH TREE (Duke City Repertory, ASSITEJ Festival, Kennedy Center's National TYA Award); THE RUIN (Manhattan Repertory Theatre, Words Afire Festival of New Works, 2011).