Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Your play, Eyes of the Blind, will soon be premiering at the Hollywood Fringe Festival this June. For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the show, how would you describe its premise?
Gwendolyn Dreyer: Christianity devours women.
Linnea Bond: Right. At its heart, Eyes of the Blind is a family drama that explores the false equivalency between submission and love. We follow Amy Bhaer on a journey home after another family suicide – her younger sister, Cassie. And "home" means facetime with her father, something Amy’s avoided for years.
Staying in Cassie’s bedroom, sleeping in her bed, Amy begins seeing her dead sister. In the end, Amy has no choice but to deal with the decades of repressed familial insecurities to find truth in her family’s tragedy.
GD: And that truth is what the perversion of faith, masculinity, and power does to women.
BD: Linnea, as the playwright, what inspired you to bring this story to the stage, and what can you share with us about your creative influences?
LB: A few years back, I saw a London production of The Woman in Black, and I fell head over heels. The use of sound and space – brilliant. And the show gives the audience space to imagine. That’s powerful. We go to dark places when left to our own devices.
For our story, I wanted to explore the truly horrifying – ugly, destructive rhetoric that’s guised as, and genuinely believed to be, love. The play came pretty quickly once I had decided on the themes.
BD: Gwendolyn, as the director, what enticed you to take part in the production?
GD: Linnea is a fantastic writer. As her close friend, I have had the privilege of reading her screenplays and prose for several years now. When she expressed interest in writing and producing a play, I was eager to let her know my services were available. Once I heard the story pitch - where women were the center of the story, a horror play where the humans are more terrifying than the apparitions, a statement on the lengths men go to twist religion into a demand for feminine submission – as a Catholic, feminist, and abuse survivor, I knew this was the right project for me and the right project for US to collaborate on.
BD: What can you share with us about the creative process of the cast and crew in bringing this production to life?
GD: I’ve been very deliberate in my efforts to create a collaborative environment. And it’s paid off, beautifully. We have such a remarkable cast and spent considerable time, upfront, in script, examining the nuances of each relationship, pinpointing crucial character moments. Our leads, Shelby Monaghan and Geoff Lloyd do a great job of bringing those nuances to life. Then, there’s Andrew Diego. His extensive physical theatre experience influenced his role as our Shadow from top to bottom. We came up with some truly chilling sequences.
LB: Gwen’s done a great job at infusing a very somber, gut-wrenching production with a sense of play. She’s given us the room to find what feels right on stage.
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
GD: A sense of self. We want – women in particular – to find a measure of relatability in Amy’s personal journey.
LB: Exactly. It’s empowering.
BD: What makes the Hollywood Fringe Festival the best venue for Eyes of the Blind?
LB: For a first time playwright, the community, support, and structure of the festival has really helped. I’m learning, and the HFF provides a one-stop resource as I figure out the moving pieces as a producer. That said, the original version of the show was…
GD: Robust? It’s chock full of effects and with the in-and-out nature of the festival, we can’t fully realize that first vision. But the limitations of a short run and the lack of some tech capabilities have inspired our most creative, vital moments on stage. So, while it might have not been the best venue for what we came in with on paper, the version the audience will see during the festival hinges solely on the performances of our actors – from which you will not be able to look away.
BD: The show will be appearing at the Lounge Theatre (Lounge 1) from June 17-23, 2018. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
LB: Not yet, though I’d really like another crack at a longer version of the show.
GD: I love this play. It is the most personal artistic project I've ever worked on, and I am incredibly proud of my cast and crew. I would be thrilled to continue working on this project for as long as Linnea will have me.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects that you would care to share with our readers?
GD: In my other life, I serve as Editor for an all-ages, comedy/adventure graphic novel series called Monster Elementary. We are gearing up to launch our crowdfunding campaign for Volume 3 in the series over the summer.
LB: I’m wrapping up the screenplay for Eyes of the Blind now. The story is drastically different, but the core relationship remains the same. And in the latter half of this year, I’m taking a complete departure from horror and working on an old-timey, Christmas radio show called The Kringle Tapes, directed by Nick Tierce. Boy detective investigates Santa, just in time for the holidays.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for Eyes of the Blind?
GD: Synopsis, ticket information, cast and crew info – everything’s available at www.john1021.com. And we’re on Twitter and Instagram at the handle @eyesofthe_blind.