Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: Mutant Collective’s world premiere production of Inland Empress launched its run in Hollywood, CA, with you at the helm. What initially intrigued you about the play and enticed you to direct the show?
Jessica Hanna: When I was sent the script, I literally devoured it in one sitting. There were 5 interesting and intriguing female characters who weren't spending all their time on stage talking about the men in their lives. It was beyond refreshing. It was exciting. The reveals and stakes of the script were surprising, and I wanted to work on it.
BD: Why do you feel that Inland Empress is relevant to today’s audiences?
JH: The story that's being told about this family of women doing what they need to survive is happening all over America, and the repercussions of addiction on relationships is highly relevant.
BD: You have quite a talented cast and crew involved with the production. What can you tell us about their creative process in bringing Inland Empress to life?
JH: I have been so grateful for the talented people involved in this show! It was an incredibly collaborative rehearsal process. Tom Cavanaugh, the playwright, was open to working on and editing his script and was at most of the rehearsals. We tightened and honed the storytelling together. I tried to make sure that the cast and production team all felt empowered to explore and make proposals in the process. We created this production together.
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
JH: I hope audiences come out of the show with a deeper understanding of how making choices, good and bad, changes the trajectory of our lives and that taking responsibility for those choices and forgiving ourselves when we make mistakes is key to living an authentic life, no matter how hard it is. And, I also hope that the audience leaves wanting to see more stories that feature women and their lives.
BD: Inland Empress will be running through February 28th at the Lounge Theatre 2. What is the best way for our readers to garner tickets for the show?
JH: Visit this site.
BD: Are there any other upcoming shows or projects that you would care to share with our readers?
JH: I am directing a solo play, Death Play, written & performed by Lisa Dring. Circle X is producing it at the Atwater Village Theaters - info here. It opens on March 19. And, I will be performing a monologue in a performance piece in the current exhibition at Think Tank Gallery in Downtown LA. The piece is called "Rough Sleeper," and it will be in the installation Break Bread on March 3 & 4.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Inland Empress and its appearance with Mutant Collective?
JH: You won't see this kind of female-oriented and driven drama on stage in Los Angeles often, or anywhere in the US for that matter. It's a real treat, and I hope there will be a lot more in the future.