Scripted: Letters Sent by Janice Hibbard
Written by Elise Lockwood
For our second Scripted, which will take place on Sunday, December 11th (RSVP), we will be performing Letters Sent by Janice Hibbard. I’m extremely excited because not only do we have a fantastic cast, but this will be the first time that Janice will have heard the script out loud. That means that our discussion afterward will be even more valuable. This is exactly why I wanted to start Scripted – to give a shot of adrenaline to playwrights during the process from first draft to final performance.
Like many, many members of the theatre community in Indy, Janice is multi-talented.
She can act, sing, dance, write, and do a pretty mean German accent. Like literally mean. I first met Janice during rehearsals for Q Artistry’s ZirkusGrimm. She played the Sharpshooter – an irrationally angry, very German circus performer with a lot of guns. Letters Sent has some echoes of the bluntly honest voice that came through in Janice’s performance, but it is tempered by a thoughtful examination of relationships and how time and space can corrode them.
In 2012, Letters Sent was a one-act play that was read as part of a playwright’s festival hosted by Q Artistry. Janice kept working on it, despite frustrations, and Letters Sent was reincarnated as a full-length piece. Janice says, “Characters were erased, the story was broadened, the emotions were explored deeper, and it is very different from where I started.” So if you were lucky enough to hear Letters Sent 4 years ago, get ready, because this is a brand new imagining of the story.
It’s 1996. The Nintendo 64 is being released in Japan. The summer Olympics are happening in Atlanta. And Claire has had an “incident.” Among other things, she sent some letters. The problem is that Claire didn’t think she’d be around to deal with the consequences of sending those letters.
Letters Sent does a really beautiful job of balancing Claire’s inner struggle while still showing how it affects everyone in her life around her. Empathy is difficult for everyone, even when they have the best intentions. How do you protect your child when their worst enemy is themselves? How do you stop isolating yourself when you can’t get out of bed? What parts of ourselves do we give to other people – is it worth giving everything? People keep asking Claire why she tried to kill herself. As a reader, I start wondering if she knows herself. And then I wonder if that kind of reason can even be articulated and condensed into words.
But there are more letters we don’t know about, sent to people we are never introduced to. All we know is that they are a large part of Claire’s downward spiral. And that maybe they, more than anyone, have an urge to reply.
I can’t wait to hear this script out loud in a few weeks. It is such a great balance of introspection and some really witty (maybe cynical) jokes.
And remember: if you are an Indiana-based playwright interested in having your work read at Scripted, you can submit now! I’m currently looking for submissions for the next few months – Scripted always takes place on the second Sunday of each month from 3pm-5pm at New Day Craft.