Darcy Cleaver, the playwright behind our upcoming world premiere production of Circe and Ulysses shared with CTC a little about herself and her process. Enjoy!
Circe and Ulysses is a very fun, funny work. I wondered how you arrived at this brand of humor to tell a story from such classical sources?
I’ve loved The Odyssey with its gods and monsters since I was a child, but when I returned to it as an adult, there were chapters in the journey that didn’t make sense to me. Circe’s chapter was one of those. I wanted to explore what would compel her to trap Ulysses, and then, after falling in love, why she would let him go. As for the humor, men into pigs? That’s already funny! The Odyssey is a story about manners–the rule of Greek hospitality is a through line–and it’s often funny when people have bad manners.
What makes this play a great fit for young actors? What’s it like to work on a script that’ll be performed by younger actors?
I think young actors work best with a big cast. A good play for young actors should give them the opportunity to create a company. The magic of theatre is how collaboration turns a bunch of words on a page into a world, populated by characters you’ve come to understand, deeply. If the cast can feel that, so can the audience. Another idea I try to keep in mind when writing for kids is transformation; kids are changing so quickly, and the characters they portray should, too.
Have your experiences teaching informed your writing?
I love those hard in-between years. I really do. Kids during those early teenage years are weird and honest and raw and amazing people. So enjoying my work with middle school and high school kids has helped me sense what stories and characters might speak to them.
How does this play fit into your body of work as a writer? Is this a step out for you, or are you following up on a long string of similar works?
Circe and Ulysses is not my first play, but it is my first produced play, and I’ve had more fun as a playwright than I ever did as a novelist. Writing novels and poems is such an solitary experience, but plays are wonderfully collaborative, and the enthusiasm and energy at Commonwealth has been inspirational.
Any projects on the horizon?
I have this wacky idea for a musical about werewolves on the girls’ lacrosse team. We’ll see where it takes me.
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