The Song of Bernadette Jones by Maura Campbell makes its New York premiere on the 2018 Fresh Fruit Festival MainStage for its 16th Season at The Wild Project, 195 East 3rd Street, on 7/10 @ 6 pm, 7/14 @ 4:30 pm, 7/15 @ 5 pm.
Award-winning playwright Maura Campbell’s lyrical tale of genderfluid teen Carolyn, whose beloved sister Mary is obsessed with the martyred Saint Bernadette (possibly living in their Ouija board). Their supernatural experiments yield lessons on love—but is love more powerful than death? Burgeoning queer identity, memories of dazzling Alaskan snowscapes, and a healthy dose of magical realism, loom large in this tale of salvation and forgiveness.
The 16th Season of the Fresh Fruit Festival promises to be a great one and already began at the top of the year! Powerful nights of staged readings, discussions, and poetry events have been added to All-Out Arts’ Festival of works celebrating the diversity of the LGBTQ Community through live performance. All tickets $18 unless otherwise stated and available at OvationTix https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/527Maura
Tell us – lyrically – about yourself as an artist.
I have a love affair with the facts and the fantastical. Most of my plays use magical realism to a lesser or greater extent. Because I feel plays are better at raising questions than answering them, magic provides a way to ponder. In other words, magic is subversive! It breaks down boundaries and allows new ideas to flow in.
There’s a story of how Rod Serling got his parables passed the censors for The Twilight Zone as they couldn’t see messages of racism or love/hate because they were spacemen and ghosts and such. You are obviously in good company. So share something magical that we WON’T see in the press release.
The play is funny! It’s magical, yes, and deals with painful themes but it’s also about two sisters who drive each other crazy as they try and navigate childhood and adolescence and understand the world where adults are strikingly absent.
How does your play resonate today? Feel free to be blunt.
When I was growing up, there were no stories about gender and sexual identity- at least not in my school library! Now these stories are not only needed, they are welcomed. I set out to simply tell a story about my sister and me and gender identity is part of that story. But I think it deals primarily with the experience of isolation and almost anyone can identify with that. As technology works overtime to connect us, I believe we are losing spiritual connection with each other.
Why did you choose Fresh Fruit Festival for your work?
My play is semi-autobiographical about my sister and me. I didn’t set out to write a play that has LGBTQ themes and frankly, I didn’t know if there would ever be a home for it. When the play has its first reading at The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, I saw that the play did connect with a mixed audience but clearly it spoke to queer members of the audience and the cast. The Fresh Fruit Festival has a long legacy and amazing reputation. I also wanted the play to be seen in New York because the energy and excitement for new plays is like no other place on earth.
Where do you see it going in the future? What’s the next step?
I have this crazy idea that this play could be adapted into a musical. There, I said it! But I do think that a production in New York will boost the resume of the play- it has already won an award and was a 2018 Semi-Finalist for The O’Neill Playwrights Conference and Bay Area Playwrights Festival.
I wrote the first draft of this play in 2007 as a graduate school class exercise. I never expected to spend the next eleven years rewriting it! There was always something in it that drew me back, even though the play was both charming and incomprehensible to everyone- including me. But there was always something honest about it; as well. Draft after draft, workshop after workshop, that honesty has always given me the courage to continue.