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6 Questions with Lia Romeo

Lia Romeo’s new play, Connected, is a funny, heartbreakingly real look at love and friendship in the age of social media. We spoke with the playwright about the inspiration behind the play, writing, and the importance of a good day job.

Connected 4.jpgWhat was the inspiration behind Connected?

Connected was commissioned by HotCity Theatre in St. Louis, and they wanted a play that dealt with social media and technology in some way. So the subject matter was inspired by the commission itself, and when I first heard what the theater wanted, I did a lot of thinking about social media and how it’s affecting people in the contemporary world. At the time, social media was helping to enable the spread of democracy in the Middle East, and it was impossible to deny that it was a powerful force for openness and change. However, it was also impossible to deny its less positive effects, especially while being subjected to Rebecca Black singing “Friday” multiple times a day. The four-part structure of the play came out of the idea that social media works in very different ways; sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and I wanted to explore different kinds of social media and its effects on different people.

Connected explores the different ways technology complicates our existence. What’s your own relationship like with technology and social media?

I wouldn’t say I’m an early adopter (I didn’t even have a smartphone until a few years ago), but I do use social media a lot. I like keeping up with people without actually having to talk to them. I think it’s dangerous, but it’s also hard to resist.

How did you first get involved in theater?

I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I was very young, but for a while I wasn’t sure what kind of writer I wanted to be (I spent a lot of time sitting in cemeteries and writing bad poetry as a child). I took my first playwriting class in high school and found it instantly addictive; getting to watch people say the words I wrote, and hear other people laughing, was the most exciting thing I’d ever experienced. It still is.

Connected 1.jpgWhat type of theater excites you?

Honestly, anything, as long as it’s good. I’m really interested in a lot of different kinds of theater; everything from naturalism to musical theater to highly theatrical spectacle. As long as it’s doing a really good job of whatever it’s trying to do, I find it exciting.

Any advice for aspiring playwrights?

Find a good day job. You’re going to be working it for a long time (most likely forever, because there’s no money in playwriting even if you end up being successful), and if it’s something you hate, eventually you’re going to get bitter and burn out on the whole thing. So it’s really important to find something that you don’t mind doing, and that gives you the flexibility to pursue your theater work the way you need to.

Are you working on any projects now?

I have a new short play going up in September at Mile Square Theater in Hoboken as part of their Seventh Inning Stretch. I have a reading of my play Reality (which premiered at HotCity Theater, and was nominated for the American Theater Critics’ Association’s Steinberg Award for best new play) coming up at Jersey City Theater Center this fall. And I’m working on a brand new play about how hard it is to embark on a new relationship. It’s also a ghost story. It’s the first time I’ve ever written a two-hander, and I’m having fun figuring out that there can be just as much drama and conflict and tension between two people as there is with a larger cast.

 

Lia Romeo’s plays have been produced at 59E59, Project Y Theatre Company, Unicorn Theatre, HotCity Theatre, Stillwater Theatre, Renegade Theatre Experiment, Forward Flux Productions, New Origins Theatre Company, Jersey City Theater Center, and Xpressions Performing Arts Network, and have been developed at the Lark Theatre, San Francisco Playhouse, the Kennedy Center, Abingdon Theatre, Writers Theatre of New Jersey, Orlando Shakes, New Jersey Repertory Theatre, Kitchen Dog Theatre, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for the American Theatre Critics’ Association’s Steinberg Award for best new play, the L. Arnold Weissberger Award, and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She has been a finalist for the O’Neill and the Heideman Award. She was the National New Play Network Emerging Playwright-in-Residence at Writers Theatre of New Jersey, and she is currently a member of the Project Y Playwrights Group, the Athena Theatre Playwrights Group, and the BMI Librettists Workshop. She earned her B.A. from Princeton University and her M.F.A. in playwriting from Rutgers. She is also the author of a novel, Dating the Devil (BelleBooks), and a humor book, 11,002 Things to Be Miserable About (Abrams Image), which has sold over 35,000 copies worldwide.

 

 

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