Now & Then Presents THE JOY January 19th At Metro Arts
Playwright Jeanmarie (Simpson) Bishop's 2011 solo work, The Joy seems eerily appropriate for development by one of the Valley's most up and coming new theatre companies. John Perovich, founding Artistic Director of Now & Then Creative Company, serves as the project's dramaturg.
"I read Jeanmarie's The Joy several months ago and was immediately drawn to the language of the piece," Perovich said enthusiastically. "The play is poetry. Perhaps that's my writer's side coming out, but the first element of the play that struck me were the words - the language. There is, of course, more to the play than the language, but that helped me fall in love with the piece," he said.
"The Joy is etymologically rooted in its time," Bishop said. "Every word in it was in common usage in its historical timeframe (1615-1660), but I had to style the language for a contemporary ear. In early drafts, I used the object-subject-verb structure that we now associate with Yoda. It's jarring and comes off silly when one character speaks that way for an evening-length performance. While some modern companies have given me feedback that The Joy "sounds like Shakespeare," John and his company have a sensibility that can both embrace the historical nature of the piece and station Mary Dyer and her life into solid 21st Century framework and relevance, which is essential," she said.
"As someone who grew up in the northeast with a love for visiting historical sites," Perovich continued, "I was struck by the rich history in the play. Throughout the play there's this attention to detail toward Puritan New England, and it comes to life. Jeanmarie does an excellent job in creating this beautifully specific and human story of Mary Dyer. It's captivating - it's moving. I had never heard of Dyer before reading this play, and was fascinated by the story - by Dyer's religious conviction, and horrified by the events at the end of her life."
"When I saw the Sandbox series call for scripts," Simpson said, "I jumped at the chance. With John at the helm, I felt my material would be in excellent hands. I have seen John onstage, and he is a fine, understated, thoughtful actor. I have seen his directing, and he's a strong director with a sophisticated sense of style and powerful staging prowess. I have seen his plays in performance twice, and his writing is lyric and compelling. All told, John comes across as both a consummate theatre professional and a talented, disciplined artist. His company, Now & Then, has a terrific mission - to nurture and produce new work and to breathe fresh life into classics," she said.
"The Sandbox New Play Development Series is a unique program committed to Arizona playwrights and their writing," Perovich explained. "I'm excited to have our director (Pamela Sterling) and our performer (Laurelann Porter) on board - two exceptional theatre makers. I'm looking forward to serving as Jeanmarie's dramaturg through this process. Our goal is to support Jeanmarie's writing in a workshop environment, allowing her to focus on the story, the structure - the words. Further, our goal is to support The Joy beyond this one week of development and hopefully see it have a full production in the near future."
Perovich is a playwright, educator, and theatre maker. He is Artistic Director of Now & Then Creative Company, a premiere non-profit theatre and film company that focuses on new play development, film production, and classics for the stage. This season, Perovich is producing three new play workshops, three readings, and two premieres, all by Arizona writers. Additionally, Perovich is collaborating with the Phoenix Art Museum to produce six 10 minute plays inspired by various pieces in the museum. The plays are written, directed, and performed by Arizona artists and perform at the museum this February during the Discount Tire Free Family Weekend on February 10 & 11.
Originally from New Jersey, Perovich is a prolific playwright, director and teacher. He came Arizona to complete his M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing at Arizona State University. After graduating, Perovich became head of the Performing Arts at the Metropolitan Arts Institute in Phoenix, a public arts charter school. As the instructor for theatre and film, Perovich coaches and mentors students grades 9-12 on the creation of original films and in all areas of theatre. Perovich produces an annual New Works Festival with his theatre students - an evening of original 10 minute plays. All works are written, directed, performed, and designed by students. In addition to teaching high school, Perovich is the playwriting instructor at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. The plays developed in his course are connected to the directing class in order for student works to be produced. This spring, Perovich will teach playwriting at Phoenix College and Estrella Mountain Community College. He has previously instructed playwriting at Arizona State University and Stockton University in Galloway, NJ.
Early Bird tickets for The Joy are available for $8.24 (includes service fee) until January 5. All seats are subsequently available online for $11.34 or at the door for $10.
Metropolitan Arts Institute is an accessible performance space, 1700 N. 7th Ave Phoenix, AZ 85007. For more information, visit the Now & Then website.