John Mabey started his career as a mental health counselor and infuses everything he’s learned about relationships and emotions into his characters. His work has been produced in Los Angeles and New York as well as overseas in Amsterdam. Here, he gives an overview of his play and looks ahead to theater in the post-covid age.
Come see us perform John’s play, along with seven other short plays, online Nov. 13, 14, 20, 21 at 7 p.m. For details, check out our 60 is the New 40 Festival page. For tickets, click here.
- How do you describe the essence of your play to those who haven’t seen it?
This play explores the question of what happens after we stop doing the job that had previously defined us. And it celebrates the process of anxiety but ultimate joy at discovering our hidden talents. I hope people of every age will connect with these themes of where and how to belong.
- What was your inspiration to write this script?
We’re usually the heroes of our own stories, and these superhero sisters have been in my imagination for a long time. A theme I often write about is identity and especially how identity changes over time, and these characters are unique in that their superhero identities have been tied together through the bonds of family.
- How and why did you become a playwright?
I’ve been a storyteller since I was young, and playwriting grew from a desire to express myself but unsure how. I was raised in a small community but unexpectedly had the chance to travel abroad as a teenager, becoming immersed in diverse cultures vastly different from my own.
These experiences changed me in many ways, but especially in my sense of storytelling: what stories I can tell, how a story can be told, and that there isn’t just one way to tell a story. I wrote a lot during this time and what I loved most about the characters I created were their inner lives and motivations that drove their actions.
This led me to work in the counseling profession, and I earned a Masters in Counseling as well, specializing in a community-based eclectic approach that (much like my playwriting) didn’t favor one theoretical technique over another.
Writing became my passion as I continued to write plays but also book chapters and journal articles about sexuality, spirituality, aging and how we create a sense of belonging. I continually bring these themes into my playwriting, especially examining the effects of power structures and how to navigate multiple and intersecting identities within the LGBTQIA+ community.
- What are your hopes and expectations for theater in a post-Covid world?
I’m full of hope. In a post-COVID world, I hope that these creative ways we’ve kept theatre alive will translate into continued opportunities for virtual theatre. I’ve been able to have readings, workshops, and productions of my plays in a virtual capacity that allows for collaborations across demographics and time zones that was not possible previously.
I expect theatre to look very different in the years to come as the creativity that’s been shown in 2020 will continue to inspire what happens next.
- Have you been writing during the Covid quarantine? If so, what projects do you have underway? If not, how have you been filling your days?
I’ve felt very inspired during the quarantine, and also allowed myself to take breaks from writing as needed. Creativity looks very different at different times, and for a writer to just spend time in nature and daydream is absolutely part of that process.
During the quarantine, I’ve had over 20 productions of short plays and monologues on different continents and also completed revisions on my full-length play as well. When I’m not writing, you can find me taking long walks and having endless conversations with my characters.