Meet the Playwright: Hillary Simpson Bolle

Hillary Simpson BolleHillary Simpson Bolle is the author of this week’s Bare Essentials reading, The Wayfarers. The Wayfarers is a story in which reality mixes with passionate remembrances to spin a tale of seven extraordinary characters, filled with love, manipulation and an intricate web of human relationships.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Washington DC, where I went to Georgetown Day School, and trained at The Washington School of Ballet until I was 13, before getting involved in theatre.  I finished high school at Woodward Academy in Atlanta.  I have a BFA in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University, where I was a Stanley Merit Scholar.  I am married, with 2 canine kids.

What inspired you to write the play?
Several years ago, I was reading The Vagabond, by Colette, which to me,is the story of love versus who one is, inherently; the choice we sometimes face between the two.  That inner battle happened to be playing out in my life at the time, and I really began the process as an exercise to work it out in my own head.  Very quickly, it took on a life of its own, and I began to tie in other things that I remain fascinated by, such as the world of artists, the chosen family, the effect that women have on men, the way men face off against each other, and the idea that we are always coming of age.  The structure that was unfolding and the rhythms of the characters led me to play with the conventions of theatre in a way that really just snowballed organically.  Why do we always have to go forward?  How did these people begin?  What happened to them that led them to who they are now?  Is how we are affected by what we see on the stage more to do with the play, or the way the play is played?  The idea, also, that we essentially live so much of our lives in memory; the moments are so swift, but memory allows us to carry them with us and the memories shift and morph to create new versions of what happened.  And, of course, everyone has different memories of the same moments, so in the end, what is the truth?  All of these ideas inspired me, and still do.  I could probably play with these characters forever, continuing to try to put the puzzle pieces together.

How did you get into playwriting?
When I graduated from The Theatre School, I was told that no one would know what do with me for probably about five years; I looked young, but couldn’t play young, and didn’t look old enough to play parts I should play — which turned out to be the case; my first acting gig came almost five years to the day I graduated.  I needed an outlet during those years, so I started writing.

What is the importance of staged readings in your own creative process and the development of your play? What do you hope to get out of this Bare Essentials reading process?
This is my first play, and first staged reading, so it’s all really a trip into the unknown for me right now.  So far, it’s been invaluable; the actors and my director, Elin Rose Hill, have helped me to trust my instincts, trust the actors, and let go of crutches.  My biggest fear before the first rehearsal was that it just wouldn’t work — but it did.  Having this group of professionals who have worked with so many scripts tell me that this was really something was a huge relief.  Hopefully the audience will feel the same way.  I will say, it’s incredibly anxiety inducing to introduce your family (my characters) to the rest of the world; it’s just been us, for a couple of years now.  But, so far, this process has been amazing, and welcoming, and productive in a way I never imagined.  And, it has me really excited to get The Wayfarers into production.

Where else can we see your work, either recently, currently or in the near future?
This is it at the moment.  I have several ideas for other plays and have been working on a novel for the past year.  So, stay tuned…

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The Wayfarers will be read at the West End Performing Arts Center on Monday,  August 10 at 7:30pm.

Directed by Elin Rose Hill and featuring the reading talents of Robin Bloodworth, Daryl Fazio, Rachel Garner,  J.P. Marston, Matt Myers, Chelsea Steverson and Kevin Stillwell.

All readings are free and open to the public, donations gladly accepted.

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