We asked actor and playwright, Kara Shelton, some questions about her play, The Prodigal, which is going to be receiving a reading at Mile Square Theatre this Saturday, February 12th, in a new partnership between us and MST. The Prodigal is also part of our New Jersey Literary Artist Fellowship, in partnership with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
WTNJ: Your play, The Prodigal, deals with two brothers who have chosen to live very different lives from each other. Do you have any siblings? If so, how different from each other are you?
Kara: I have one brother who is four years older than me. Although we are both creative in different ways (he is excellent at drawing and spoken word), we approach life very differently. He has a very free-spirited, low stress, low responsibility way of living, which I genuinely envy in some ways. I tend to be more goal oriented and focused. We also conduct separately lives physically – he lives on the other side of the country – in Las Vegas. Which I suppose, is why I am always fascinated by the idea of how common experiences can result in different life approaches.
WTNJ: In the parable of the prodigal son, it’s the son’s father who receives him and welcomes him home, in your play the death of the father is the reason the two brothers reunite – as the playwright, what was the impetus behind that death being the thing that brought them together?
Kara: Like the parable, I felt that the father would still be the anchor of the prodigal son’s familial tie, even in death, because the father represents “the home”. The home is always waiting for the prodigal son, no matter how far away he goes. Unlike the parable, the father has no future to give, but all that he has is spent – his life. That’s the only bond between this father and son, and his son has enough reverence for that life of his father to return back home.
WTNJ: There is great mitigating power in family relationships, both positive and negative, and it can bring together people who would seem at first glance to have nothing in common and vice versa. What was it about the family dynamic that caused you to make them brothers and not friends coming together after years apart?
Kara: I think the fact of them being brothers implies a shared experience growing up in the same household. The interpretation of that experience and the way they form their different outlooks on life is what was interesting to me. The bond of siblings can be both magnetic and polarizing, but the blood connection binds us to something different than friendship. It can cause deeper wounds and lead to greater healing. I thought that dynamic is what gave these two men something to fight about and something to fight for.

Don’t miss The Prodigal by Kara Shelton – February 19 at 6 p.m. at Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken, NJ!