5 Questions with Lia Romeo

The 2nd reading in our FORUM “Soundings” series is WHAT HAPPENED by Lia Romeo. This reading will be begin at 7:00pm and will be held at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Dreyfuss Theatre, 285 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ. Click here for directions. Click here for a printable map of the campus (the Dreyfuss Theatre is located in Building 9).

Jenna and Kate are best friends . . . until one drunken night, Kate ends up in the bathroom with Derek, the guy Jenna has a crush on. Afterwards, Kate says she was raped, while Derek claims it was consensual. What Happened examines the blurred lines and unclear boundaries that come with being a teenager . . . or just with being a human being.

Lia Romeo is a playwright, novelist, and humor book author.  She earned her B.A. from Princeton University and her M.F.A in playwriting from Rutgers.  Her plays have been produced or developed at Unicorn Theatre, Renegade Theatre Experiment, HotCity Theatre, Stillwater Theatre, Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey, the Kennedy Center, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, New Jersey Repertory Theatre, Kitchen Dog Theatre, Abingdon Theatre, and elsewhere.  She has been a finalist for the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, the Reva Shiner Comedy Award, PlayPenn, WordBridge, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, and the Heideman Award, among other honors.  She was the 2008-2009 National New Play Network Emerging Playwright-in-Residence at Lia Romeo newPlaywrights Theatre of New Jersey, and was a member of the 2011-2012 Emerging Women Playwrights group. Her humor book, 11,002 Things to Be Miserable About, was published in 2009 and has sold over 30,000 copies. Her first novel, Dating the Devil, was published in 2013, and is in development as a TV movie with Vast Entertainment.

1. The topic of your play could be applicable to adults, but your characters are teenagers. What was your reasoning for choosing this age group?
I think writing teenagers is so much fun, because of the unique and distinctive rhythms of their speech.  I’ve always been jealous of playwrights who come from  places with very particular speech patterns, because the rhythm of their characters’ dialogue (or dialect) ends up being so distinctive and interesting.  I come from Colorado, which is apparently one of the only states where people have no regional accent whatsoever, so writing teenagers is one way for me to play with interesting speech patterns.  But there are also deeper reasons, of course . . . this play in particular is about being confused and trying to figure out who you are, which is something that’s relevant at all ages, but is particularly important – and often particularly painful – during the teenage years.  The play was also based in part on real incidents that involved teenagers, so keeping it in that age group made sense. 


2. What type of research did you do for this play?
While I was writing the play, I came across a really interesting New Yorker article about the Steubenville rape case, and the ways that the case had unfolded and perceptions of the rapists, the victim, and the town had shifted during the course of the investigation.  That ended up informing the play somewhat.  I also read accounts that rape victims had written online to try to get a sense of the emotional space that someone might be in after something like that had happened.
 


3. Your first novel, Dating the Devil, is in development for a TV movie. What can you tell us about it?
Dating the Devil
is the story of Lucy, a 26-year-old Kansas girl who’s dated just about every lowlife in New York City.  When she meets Lewis – handsome, successful, and head over heels for her – she can’t believe her luck.  But there are a couple of odd things about him, like the smell of sulfur that hangs around his apartment, and the fact that he never takes his socks off, even in very intimate moments.  Eventually Lucy discovers that her perfect man has one major drawback . . . he’s the Prince of Darkness.  Unfortunately for her, he’s already stolen her heart.  But is he going to steal her soul? Dating the Devil was published by BelleBooks in 2013 and is available on Amazon here.
  


4. You were part of the 2011-2012 Playwrights Theatre New Jersey Emerging Women Playwrights Project. What did you find to be the most helpful aspect of the project?
The Emerging Women Playwrights Project was a great experience.  Probably the most helpful thing was the chance to work with the same cast and director over a period of an entire year  Most development processes happen over a week or two – which is great, but it’s even more helpful to really have time in between each meeting to sit with the script and think about revisions.  I went in with a script which I thought was in good shape, but thanks to John’s insights and a great cast I actually ended up making a lot of changes.  And the script I worked on went on to win the HotCity Theatre New Play Festival this past summer, so it’s going to be produced at HotCity Theatre in 2014, which I’m excited about!


5. If you were given a choice between a one hour, all expenses paid shoe shopping spree at Neiman Marcus or a year of dating George Clooney, which would you choose and why?
Well, I’d rather spend a year with my husband than anyone else, even George Clooney (though people have said my husband looks like him … ).  So I think I’d have to go with the shopping spree.
  

 

♦ Playwrights Theatre will present these readings free of charge, with an optional donation of $10
♦ A $25 dollar donation will get you a FORUM pass that covers all of the readings.
♦ A $250 donation will get you a rehearsal pass that allows access to all reading rehearsals.
♦ Reservations can be made online at or call (973) 514-1787 X10

Click here to reserve your seat to see WHAT HAPPENED.

You can also find additional information on our website about the entire FORUM reading series.