Sharon’s Shorts
Robert Moss Theater, 440 Lafayette St. · Tickets on sale through Jun 15 q&a preview by Sharon E. Cooper
May 18, 2013

What is your job on this show?

What is your show about?
Sharon’s Shorts is five ten-minute plays, written over the last seven years, that are hilarious and heartfelt, that show moments that are surreal and too real and are about characters who’ve been silenced–who finally get their say.

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
When I was sixteen, living in Chesterfield, Virginia, my mom handed me an ad from a local paper. It was an audition notice for “New Voices for the Theatre” program. This program, which was then at TheatreVirginia and is now at the School of the Performing Arts in Richmond, Virginia, produces staged readings of high school work in the summer. I auditioned and ended up getting a few parts. That summer, I thought, this is fun but the writers at this thing get to live on a college campus for several weeks and work with theatre professionals? As soon as the program ended, I had this idea for a play. The voice of the main character started to come to me in a monologue. For nine consecutive nights, I wrote my first full-length play called For Camille. I was fearless at the time and didn’t know enough to have any doubting voice in my head. Writing dialogue felt easy. The more I just listened, the more the characters revealed what would happen. When I wrote the play, I had only seen a dozen plays in my life. When the play was one of five in the state of Virginia chosen for the program, I was thrilled. I had no idea, though, that this couple of weeks of professional guidance and being immersed in the world of theatre would be the start of a long playwriting path. Here I am exactly twenty years later and this summer, a few days after Sharon’s Shorts closes, I’m heading to Richmond to be the Playwright in Residence at the New Voices program and mentor high school students to rewrite their plays and help them prepare for their own staged reading.

Complete this sentence: My show is the only one opening in NYC this spring that…?
My show is the only one opening in NYC this spring that has five ten-minute plays being produced together–with a mixture of world premieres and U.S. premieres side by side with other ten-minute plays that have been produced internationally. It’s the only group of short plays that include moments that are surreal, moments that are too real, and moments of hilarity, heartbreak and irony in one hour. Each play is, indeed, a play, not a sketch or skit. And it’s the only show this spring where all of the short plays are written by me. ☺

Is there a particular moment in this show that you really love or look forward to? Without giving away surprises, what happens in that moment and why does it jazz you?
I’m particularly jazzed about little moments in all of these plays: hearing the audience reaction to the unbelievable guest on the 1953 “This is Your Life” episode, watching an intense fight between roommates over a terrible betrayal, noticing what happens when a woman at thirty meets her former self at seventeen, watching a woman hilariously seek revenge to get her $4 back from the bank and the moment when a man and a phone realize he’s been screwed by his friends.

Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
I’m going to have to go with all of the above, in the following order: smart, surprising, smooth and sexy—but not sexy/steamy kind of way, in the quirky, modern, fun kind of way, which, in all honesty, is not really sexy. So all of the above–minus sexy; although, there are a few people in dresses. (Does that count as sexy?)

Can theatre bring about social change?
I just graduated with an MA from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. I called my degree Writing as a Means to Create Social Change and took classes in playwriting, screenwriting, TV writing and Arts/Public Policy. I want to say the answer is YES! To me, social change isn’t just people protesting in the streets—we’ve seen the impact of television shows like Will and Grace on our society. Theatre can bring about change too; the obvious difference in theatre is that the medium doesn’t allow the same number of people to be exposed as TV does. That said, what’s more important than individual change and every time anyone walks into a theatre, there’s a potential for individual change—for an individual to laugh, cry or think her way into seeing something just a little differently. And that little difference can inspire, incite and revolutionize society.

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