John Mabey’s play Second Acts, Second Helpings, looks at a couple’s actions and attitudes toward life after the pandemic has finally subsided.
Mabey’s plays have been published and produced across the United States and Europe, and this year his work is included in Smith & Kraus Best 10-Minute Plays and Smith & Kraus Best Women’s Monologues.
In addition to writing, he’s a certified mental health counselor, improviser, and true storyteller around the world. He’s also a two-time winner of a 2nd Act Players’ new script competition.
Here, we ask John to discuss his play, himself and the future of theater post-Covid.
- What inspired you to write this play?
I was inspired by the prompt from 2nd Act Players about how the past year was one of such huge changes, and ways in which characters might be dealing with those changes as they create their second acts. I imagined all the ways we might try to overcompensate in 2021 for everything (and everyone) that was lost in the year before. It’s where the title for this play emerged as well, in the sense that we can allow ourselves to grieve and change course as we’re ready. But everyone will be on their own timeline and that’s okay.
- What do you think the audience will take away from it, what will they be talking about after seeing it?
I hope the audience will relate to the struggle for connection and making the most of the time we have. After the play ends, I think the audience will be talking about how the characters ultimately found joy and reignited the spark in their relationship in very unexpected ways. I was excited to explore these complex themes in a comedy because I think everyone can really use a laugh right now, too!
- How and when did you start writing plays?
I started writing plays when I was young, but it wasn’t until I was older and lived overseas that I started sharing those plays with other artists and eventually submitting to theaters. I created my own second act by changing careers from working in Higher Education to working in the arts. And the more time I spent surrounded by other creatives, the more confidence grew in my own writing. Although my plays aren’t autobiographical, with each one I’m consistently learning more about myself and ways to navigate the world around me.
- What do you expect from a post-covid theater scene?
I expect a post-covid theater scene to retain the amazing spirit of collaboration that we’ve seen over the past year. Artists of all kinds found incredible ways to keep theater alive and accessible. Friends and family from around the world were able to watch my virtual productions, many of whom wouldn’t have been able to join otherwise due to distance, cost, or other factors. That type of accessibility is something that’s been missing from theater and will only serve to make it stronger.