I recently reached out to the incredibly talented Lia Romeo with some questions about Ghost Story, her latest play, which is going to be receiving its first reading at Mile Square Theatre this Saturday, February 4th, in a new partnership between us and MST.  Ghost Story will also be part of our lineup for our annual New Plays New Jersey series in March.
WTNJ:  In Ghost Story, you’re writing two extremely different characters – a forty year-old, black woman from New York who attempts a one night stand with a twenty-eight year-old, Midwestern, white man.  When scientists approach an experiment, they tend to carefully control for variables and change just one at a time to see how they affect the results.  As a playwright, what’s it like to turn all the dials in different directions at once when creating these characters?  Did you start with the characters being more similar and gradually add to the differences in the drafts or was this part of the design of the situation from the start?
Lia:  I love the idea of the playwright as scientist, adjusting different variables – but in this case, the characters were really different from the start.  I knew I wanted this to be a story about these two people coming together, and so to raise the stakes of that story I needed to start with them being pretty far apart.  One of the major ideas I wanted to explore in this piece was whether it’s possible to reach across lines – whether sex or love or just human fellow-feeling are powerful enough to overcome some of the things that divide us.  And I think a lot of the time the answer is no – but if people are lonely enough and they need each other enough then maybe the answer is yes.
WTNJ:  The ghosts in our lives seem immune to entropy – where normal memories usually fade and get weaker with time, those specific moments or actions that keep returning to haunt us like ghosts seem perpetually frozen until we deal with them.  Why do you think these ghosts still feel so fresh and real even years later?  And do you think ghosts are things we should confront or just learn to live with?
Lia:  I think that’s a great definition of a ghost – something that doesn’t fade the way a normal memory does.  Certain especially powerful or traumatic memories are especially likely to haunt people, but maybe certain kinds of people are also especially prone to being haunted… people who shut the door on the past and refuse to acknowledge it, or people who live too much in the past and refuse to move on (I’ve got one of each in this play).  I think there’s some kind of middle ground, but I don’t know exactly what it looks like… that’s part of what I’m writing the play to figure out!

Don’t miss Ghost Story by Lia Romeo – February 4 at 8:30 p.m. at Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken, NJ!