Q: Why do you feel this story needs to be told right now?
CARLY L. BODNAR: Our country is so divided on so many issues at this moment in time. This story of a young man who dies of a heroin overdose is a story that crosses party lines. So many people that I personally know have dealt with opiate addiction in their families. It is a story about romantic and familial love, dealing with the death of a loved one and what you could and could not control. This story is not only about addiction and death, but also toxic masculinity and how feminism fits into that world.
Q: What's the approach to telling this story?
CARLY L. BODNAR: This story is so close to my roots, growing up in a struggling town affected by the lack of high paying jobs and rising drug use. While I have a deep understanding of where this story takes place it is a story that is taking place in towns all over this country. My approach is one of understanding and compassion for those who are dealing with substance abuse, economic instability, and an ever changing world that these characters may not fully understand. Whenever I work on a piece I am always interested in exploring the human aspect of the characters and the deeper emotional depths. While this story is one of death there are also moments of levity. It was important to find these moments in the piece as well as looking at the grieving process. The lights and sound were key in telling the story and creating each space. This piece lives in three different worlds; the day Jimmy dies, the day of Jimmy's funeral and Jimmy's memories. I knew I wanted to use the sound and lights to differentiate each timeline.
Q: What's the process in getting this story onto it's feet?
CARLY L. BODNAR: For me it is always a process of play. I am interested in letting the actors explore the text and the space in a very organic way. This piece lives in three different worlds; the day Jimmy dies, the day of Jimmy's funeral and Jimmy's memories. All of the actors are living moment to moment while jumping between each timeline. We talked a lot about the world this play lives in which is small town America and how that differs from a suburban and/or city setting. There is much more emphasis in these towns on family dynamics, stability, nostalgia, and gender roles.
Q: Any additional thoughts on some of the themes of the play? Whether that's addiction, toxic masculinity, class warfare, clash between conservatives and liberals, etc
CARLY L. BODNAR: Working on the piece we found layers of addiction outside of opiate use. The exploration of what we use as a society to cope with the things that afflict us such as caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, prescription drugs and pot use are heavy themes throughout the piece. The piece also touches on a deep passive aggressiveness and what is "acceptable to talk about". My own experience in my small town upbringing was it is not polite to talk about politics or religion. There is a level of propriety that must be upheld to keep the status quo. The character of Christina has experienced the city living and been awakened to larger, more global ideas. She comes back to her small town home and is confronted with notions of a simpler time. Some characters try to grasp these larger ideas while others dismiss them as the notions of an outsider. There is a level of conformity that must happen in this society. There is a specific way to life and any change or mention of change disrupts the status quo these characters have created for themselves. In dealing with the death of their best friend, brother and boyfriend, the status quo has been shifted and all three characters are asking the universal question of why in their own ways; Christina with her larger worldly ideas and outside prospective of this town; Phil who loves his home, but realizes that it may not be what he seems and Scott who is engrained in this society that champions specific gender roles, specifically "men being men".