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BWW Interview: Amanda Washington of CROSSROADS at Actor's Express

The new serial drama podcast from Actor's Express drops on Friday.

BWW Interview: Amanda Washington of CROSSROADS at Actor's Express

Listen up, Atlanta! Actor's Express is undertaking an exciting new Covid-friendly podcast project. It's a new serial drama podcast called Crossroads. BroadwayWorld caught up with producer/director Amanda Washington to talk about the project.


BWW: I hear your working on a new serial drama podcast for Actor's Express. Will you tell me what it's about?

Washington: It's about these three friends, and they go on the journey of what it really means to live and take charge of your own life. One of the characters realizes that they are bystanders to their own life. And the other two are thrust into this change, and with this change, they actually realize that they like it and that they can grow from it. So, that's just a little about the adventure, and I truly do mean an entire adventure for these three friends.

BWW: Do the three friends go through their journeys together, or are they three distinct stories that run parallel to one another?

Washington: I would say they start off together, and then as the podcast developed - because it wasn't all written at once - it went from October to February - Through that time period, the playwrights really started to focus on one main character and how everyone interacted with her.

BWW: You've been working on this project for quite a while then.

Washington: Yes! Yes!

BWW: Tell me what drew you to this project.

Washington: There is a grant at the National New Play Network. They sent a notice out to theaters, and I really wanted to do it. So I came up with this idea, and I presented it to Freddie [Ashley], and we really flushed it out. And then we just put it together at the end of October, and we said, "Alright, we want to do a serialized drama, almost like an Exquisite corpse type of deal," and this is where we ended up.

BWW: How long are the episodes going to be?

Washington: There are seven episodes, and at the moment, we have the first draft. I got to listen to the first draft this past weekend. That one was about 17 minutes, so, in total, they shouldn't go over 25 minutes. We did give that stipulation to the writers, like no more than 30 minutes. Honestly, I don't think any of them hit the 30-minute mark.

BWW: Oh, wow! That's neat. So you could drive to work or the grocery and listen to this in your car. What do you think makes this story good for this audio-only medium?

Washington: Literally, what you just said. Because you can drive to the store and listen to an episode. Also, I said I wanted to do something in this time when we are all having to be socially distant... I can experience a good story, but I don't have to be close with someone, yet I feel right there with them. And so I thought that a podcast - I always get entranced when I am listening to TED Talks or Noble Blood is also one of my favorite podcasts - I also get entranced when I listen to those, and I was like why not do that with theatre? It's probably already been done, but why not create my own project?

BWW: I think this sounds like a great new entry in the non-traditional Covid-y theatre catalog, which is getting quite extensive. I'm excited to put it on in my car and see what you guys do with this. I think the cast is all people of color, is that right?

Washington: That's right.

BWW: Cool. Is that a choice that's demanded by the script, or is that something that's important to you about the casting for this project? Tell me about that.

Washington: It was demanded by the script. It was important to me. And it was a stipulation that we gave the playwrights. The playwrights are also all people of color, and some of them are part of the LBGTQIA+ community. We wanted to focus on one intersectionality of life and amplify the voices of the queer community and the people of color community. There are so many stories that only focus on one thing about a person, but that negates, in many instances, the rest of who they are. So, we said, "Yes. We want them of color, but we also want to express more of their story than just being of color or just being queer."

BWW: That's really thoughtful consideration of your project's goals. You've said that you have a team of writers. Why did you decide to go with a team of writers rather than just one writer?

Washington: Viewpoints, not necessarily in Anne Bogart's style, but I read this book Afrocentric Theatre, and it had an African proverb in it about how you can be looking at the same statue, and you could have four people standing on the north, south, east, and west, and they'll all see a different viewpoint of it. They'll all describe something very different about it, and I thought that would be so cool for someone to start a story and then pass it on to someone else, and then they continue to craft that story and so on and so forth.

BWW: Oh! That's so interesting! So they aren't working in a writer's room or virtual writer's room. That's what you meant by exquisite corpse. They are passing the story off. I'm sure that's been a really fun experience for them.

Washington: Yes! Another one of the guidelines was you didn't know what was happening until you got all of the scripts and it was time for you to write your script. And the playwrights who had already written their scripts and passed them on didn't know what was happening later down the road.

BWW: Oh! That's so hard to let go of characters like that!

Washington: I know!

BWW: How and when can we hear it?

Washington: This Friday, February 26, and it is on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music, and I Heart Radio.

BWW: I love this! I'll definitely be listening on Friday. This sounds so good!

Washington: Thank you.


ABOUT CROSSROADS

It is the journey of living and what someone will sacrifice in order to live.

Three friends feel stuck in their lives in a dead-end town. One evening, they kill time in an abandoned playground and fantasize about the changes they'd make in their lives if given the chance to trade their souls. Their innocent game unwittingly catapults them into a dangerous adventure that hurdles them through time and space into a strange world that brings them face-to-face with the Devil herself. "Crossroads" challenges concepts of Earth and Hell, and explores the limits we'll go to in the search of life, happiness and liberation.

"Crossroads" was made possible by a grant from the National New Play Network and Lead Sponsors Mark Williamson and John and Pat Valleroy.

Visit Actors-Express.com for more information and to stream the episodes on Friday.


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