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  • Writer's pictureAll For One Theater

AFO's 2019 Season

Updated: Apr 25, 2019

From the Artistic Director

All For One's 2019 season is a spirited celebration of the playwright and the Art of the Solo Narrative, with two mainstage productions that began as readings in our AFO|Solo Collective development series.

Crystal Skillman’s masterful storytelling in Open takes us on a journey that is equal parts magic, romance, and revelation. Directed by Jessi D. Hill and performed by Megan Hill, it will be a co-production with The Tank in June.

Monsoon Season, by AFO's 2019 Artist In Residence Lizzie Vieh, is a darkly hilarious look at a couple’s relationship spinning terribly out of control. The first two-hander in AFO history (with a “his” act and a “hers” act), it is performed by Richard Thieriot, with direction by Kristin McCarthy Parker, and will have its tryout in Edinburgh in August prior to its New York premiere this fall.

Focusing on the playwright and the script reminds us solo shows actually take a village—writer, actor, director, designers, producers, audiences—to nurture and realize them. AFO is such a village. And we warmly invite you to our readings, workshops, and shows throughout the year to the hear the vital voices that our village—villages across the world—need to hear. Michael Wolk

Artistic Director & Founder

From the Artists


Crystal Skillman, Playwright

Jessi Hill, Director

In one word this play is about:


How was the idea for the play born?

CS:I wrote the play as an exploration of my own complicated relationship to believing in death. It was written as a magic act that reveals itself to be a resurrection act. The play was made to operate using a “tinkerbell effect”. As the audience believed more in the story, and the possibly of resurrection, the more invested they were. When I developed the full piece, I realized how affecting the relationship of Jenny and Kristen was. It became a piece about love and forgiveness, using this effect for the theatrical convention of the show. I was horrified as well but the amount of violence, even in my city, a hostility to same sex marriage or relationships. This only increased with the election of he-who-shall-not-be-named, as we know. When we presented this piece - I had never seen an audience weep collectively as I did - I realized the audience goes through an immense catharsis, which allows them to change or let go. This is exciting because that is what theater is designed to do, and my personal mission. I also was moved by magicians telling me they didn’t want to see the magic in the play. It is how we engage the audience to believe with Kristen, that is the magic of the play. It always us to “fill in the gaps” of magic, and believe, by imagining together. I believe that imagining together is what allows us to be human and connect, and see how we all are bound in this thing called life together. I am always interested in an audience becoming one in that brief moment of time. I also believe the play presents a strong female character that is bold and fearless, even when she is afraid. And that excites an audience greatly, adding to the power.

What do you hope the plays asks an audience?

JH: How can we bravely continue more fully embrace who we are and who we love even in the face of hate and fear?

What has the development process been like thus far? What have you learned or what do you still hope to learn?

CS: It has been incredibly collaborative. And it has been terrific to work in an all female team! There are a lot of possible articles here in that we have known and worked together for a long time. Jessi Hill directed The Test (done last summer) and Megan and I have worked together all our theatrical lives (we’re talking like 15 years here!) She premiered in a play I wrote called Cut. In writing for her, we formed a tremendous bond. I have written the premiere of this piece for her. We did a lot of readings, even at her apartment! Megan gets layered work and is also interested in imaginative storytelling, she can put that into her characters. She is vulnerable, determined, and unpredictable all at the same time as a performer. And so charming too. So her work is incredibly “present” as an actor.

I love this piece as it can only be done this effectively as a live theater piece. Like seeing a live magic show, it captures the night to night experience of an audience. I am excited to learn more from this highly theatrical experience that comes from strong writing/creation. The design is surprising, but does not do the work of the storytelling, not unlike Year of Magical Thinking.

Who is this play for?

CS: This play has strong LGBTQ themes. Also ladies have a BIG reaction to seeing a LADY magician which we NEVER see. The image for the piece should really capitalize on this. For hopefulness romantics. For those who believe in love. For those seeking community in dark times. For those looking to believe in magic when we live in an era where it feels like hope is gone.

What/Who is a vital voice for you and where does the solo narrative play in your work?

CS: My own career has been so independent, I hope that it can pave more roads for emerging artists who are not nurtured either quickly enough or with enough enthusiasm by the theater culture. I am an outsider, who is interested in allowing those who have this ability ways to see their work and to grow. So emerging writers are vital voices to me. Voices that harness the live medium, yet care about story, are the most important to me. AFO presents writers and actors and stories you don’t traditionally see in a theatrical way. It presents the most different kind of solo shows that I’ve ever seen! They are true live experiences, as opposed to recounting a story. I feel like they present solo plays almost more than solo shows. This is a play for one person and it so fits with the mission - so thrilled to be a part!

Monsoon Season

Lizzie Vieh, Playwright

Kristin McCarthy Parker, Director

How was the idea for the play born?

LV: The very first version of Monsoon Season was written for Amio's monthly series of short plays called Shotz. Each month, Amios hosts an evening of six seven-minute plays centered around a theme. In October, 2015 I took part in the Halloween horror-themed series. I was given one actor (Richard Thieriot), a theme, and a series of conditions I had to meet, (which as I recall included blood, a scream, and some other thing I can't remember.) So given those conditions, I was thinking about how to write a one-man play for Richard that was scary and included blood and a scream. I'm from Phoenix, and my mind went to monsoon season, where every afternoon in August the intense sunniness and heat gives way to huge dramatic purple clouds, thunder, and heat lightning. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it doesn't. It's very dramatic and kind of scary. From that drama, I then went to the most mundane, boring job I could think of -- technical support. And things kinda built from there. I wanted to create an inner landscape for the character Danny that matched the building tension and release of a monsoon. Also the strangeness of a monsoon -- a huge torrential storm in a landscape that almost never receives rain. Scarcity, and then a frightening abundance.

What has the development process been like thus far? What have you learned or what do you still hope to learn?

KMP: It's exciting to work on a show that structurally changes with each iteration. It's doubled in length with each workshop/performance, so we've had to revisit the drive and tone of the piece each time. How do we maintain momentum and mystery of Danny's spiral while giving the audience more glimpses into his life and relationships? How might adding Julia's "side of the story" influence the reveal of information? These are exciting challenges to address as we widen the lens on this particular story.

What do you hope the plays asks an audience?

LV: How do relatively normal people reach a place where they're capable of violence? What are the stages and colors of that descent? To what degree is that violent impulse born out of time and place -- our culture, gender relations, economics, and morals-- and to what degree is it unique to the individual and the vagaries of his/her psyche? At what point do we stop empathizing with a previously peaceful person who has committed a violent act?

KMP: I think we all encounter people peripherally--colleagues, neighbors, cab drivers, etc--who we never really get to know... people who seem nice enough on the surface but make us wonder what's really going on with them. Danny is one of those people, and this play offers a really intimate portrait of a nice enough person just completely falling apart. Emotionally, I hope it's a wild ride and one that's both funny and difficult to watch. Intellectually, I hope it asks challenging questions about what we're entitled to and what must be earned, from relationships and careers to less tangible things like forgiveness and love.

What is your relationship to the solo narrative, how has this been challenging or rewarding compared to your other work?

LV: In some ways, I feel like I never really write solo material, even when I only have one character on stage. In Monsoon Season, Danny is always talking to someone, they're jus not represented on stage. The writing is one-sided dialogue rather than the more traditional solo show mode of monologue. Though I have never written a one-person show before Monsoon Season, I don't think it's radically different than my other plays. Characters talk to each other-- it's just that in Monsoon Season, we only hear Danny's side. I think this "missing" quality of other characters theatricalizes Danny's isolation and disconnectedness. Writing a one-person show is challenging in that one performer has to carry the entire narrative of the show, without getting too heavy-handed or obvious about what's happening. The reward lies in how deeply you can delve into a single character.

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