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Lesbian Drama: An Interview With Playwright Mêlisa Annis

On the eve of their marriage, two women find their trust tested.


John Quilty


Every year the good folks over at Parity Productions, a theater company dedicated to producing the work for women and trans and gender nonconforming (TGNC) artists, select two playwrights for a commission.


This year Mêlisa Annis was one of the chosen ones. Theresa Rebeck calls her a dazzling talent and her new play Charlie’s Waiting, directed by Ludovica Villar-Hauser and starring Tony Nominee Xanthe Elbrick, is set to do the same to audiences at TheaterLab in NYC. 
In Charlie’s Waiting, you meet two women on the eve of their marriage who are forced to confront themselves in ways they didn’t expect. Plans are derailed and the pair questions of intimacy and trust.


In this brief interview playwright Mêlisa Annis tells her why you gotta get your butt over to 36th Street this April! 


Why is this project important and why does it need to be seen now? 

I’m a storyteller, I like to tell stories and I think we need stories right now, I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of the news and I’m sick of the way women are reported on in general. As women, we always fall victim to the ultimate judgment; are we good partners, wives, mothers, teachers, nurturers? This is simply a play is about three women who choose what they want. Is it a happy story of following your bliss, no, life is more complicated than that, but I wanted to tell a story about women making choices that are against the normal perception of what we would and should do. 


What do you hope the audience walks away with? 

I hope that the audience leave TheaterLab with questions and discuss what they’ve seen.  The play has sparked quite a bit of conversation with audiences at readings, some choosing to hold on to hope, others finding the choices the characters make difficult to comprehend, but ultimately, people make selfish decisions every day, it’s just less palatable when it's three women making them.


What was your favorite part of making this project happen? 

Putting voice to text is always a thrill!  We have three fabulous actors in Xanthe, Amy and Stephanie, and they are bringing the play to life with love, rage and respect — it’s been a joy watching them work in the rehearsal room.  


Where is this project going next? 

I’m really looking forward to seeing Charlie’s Waiting at TheaterLab at the end of March thru April, that’s as far as my mind can wonder about this play at the moment, but of course, I hope it has a continued life after this production. I am working on several other really fun projects in addition to Charlie’s Waiting that I’m also excited about. I’m currently working on a musical with a wonderful producer and a fantastic Grammy-nominated songwriter. It’s about two very close friends, who happen to be the first two wives of Henry VIII — it’s a reimagining of their story, of course through a woman's POV.  


Charlie’s Waiting plays at TheaterLab (357 West 36th Street, 3rd Floor) March 28th through April 20th. 

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