Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congrats on the launch of Refuge in this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of this show?
Mary Frances Noser: Our show is about a set of twins, Myra and Kellon, who have been sheltering from a pandemic of killer bugs in their families summer cabin, while dealing with the death of their mother. Their lives and relationship are thrown into disarray when a bleeding stranger shows up on their doorstep, and the twins have to confront their lives, their beliefs, and each other in order to move forward.
BD: What can you tell us about the shared creative process of working with the cast and crew to bring this production to life?
MFN: I had the idea for the script in late 2019, and started writing the show as a short. I knew immediately that I wanted to write for Dallis Seeker and Jack Walker Nixon, two of my best friends and two of the most talented actors I know. Kellon and Danny where created with the two of them in mind. One of the best parts of this process has been watching the two of them take these characters and make them their own. The greatest thing for a playwright is when your actors know your characters better than you do, and it’s been that way with the two of them for a while. I truly could not have asked for a better cast.
Aria and I were introduced by a mutual friend, and from the jump I knew she was the one to take this show into its full potential. She has a tremendous gift in taking abstract concepts, and grounding them in stage pictures that underscore the emotional beats of the scene. Often I’m not aware of it until I am fully in that moment and it just knocks me over. She’s incredible.
Cassie Cormier, our production and stage manager, has held us in place though all of the ups and downs of taking a project of this complexity to Fringe. It’s no easy task to keep us focused, and she does it with incredible precision and grace. When we added Vanessa Boss, a fringe veteran and a true pro at going to bat for a show she believes in, along with Willa Segar-Reid, our precise and insanely talented set designer to this beast of a show, the whole thing just sung. I cannot have asked for a better team, truly.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Refuge will connect with and impact audiences?
MFN: I hope, and have been receiving word from the audiences who’ve seen the show so far, that this show helps process the almost insurmountable amounts of grief we’ve been dealing with lately as a county, with the collusion of our political system going up in flames and the pandemic. This play makes that grief, and all grief, personal, and I hope in watching the characters refine and reflect on what’s most important to them, our audience is able to do the same.
BD: What makes the Hollywood Fringe Festival an ideal venue for your productions?
MFN: The Fringe has been an incredible venue for our production for how it introduces our show to a hugely expansive audience, and in the community we’ve felt as fresh theater makers to the LA scene. Pulling off something like this isn’t easy, and the festival has been instrumental in giving us the tools and platform to magnify our show beyond what we would be able to do on our own. As a huge plus, we get to work with the magnificent team at the LGBT center, and their incredible design team lead by Matt Richter. Matt, Maggie, and Hayden have taken our show beyond my imaginings, it’s been such an honor to work with them.
BD: The show will be appearing at the LGBT Center's Davidson/Valentini Theatre in June. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
MFN: Yes! We are looking into taking Refuge to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2023!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects that you would care to share with our readers?
MFN: Yes! Aria is developing a play called xxPain, about people with XX chromosomes who experience pain & a system that repeatedly fails them. That show will debut at next year’s Fringe Festival! I am developing a play about the Vietnam War to be presented sometime in 2023. So keep an eye out for those!
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for Refuge?
MFN: You can learn more about our project here, including our show trailer and more about our team, and the link to tickets for our last two shows is here. You can also find us on Intagram and Facebook (@refugeplayla).