It’s not rare for a writer to shelve a project, whether by stuffing bound paper into a box under the bed or by ignoring an abandoned file in a folder on a laptop, tap dancing around either as if in fear of waking a sleeping toddler. The decision to do so could be for many reasons: the quality isn’t up to code, too many rejections, no connection to the story, and so on. A writer’s reasons for giving up on a project are, after all, endless.
However, it is rare (roughly once a century, it would seem) for projects to come to a screeching halt due to factors beyond the writer’s control, such as, oh, say, a global pandemic. Entire industries shut down, leaving writers, directors, producers, and artists everywhere restricted to home, their projects on indefinite hold or left to wither on the vine and die as they were released to a world unwilling to spend or risk exposure by gathering with others.
Movies, musicals and plays, music, books, gallery showings—all the product of artists, all driven by a team of others working on a final product, all set aside. Most forgotten.
To thrive, even more so to survive, a writer must be resilient. Relentless. Unstoppable. Willing to take the fruit given, no matter how sour it may be, and turn it into a tasty sugary beverage for all to enjoy. It takes courage to cling to an idea and refuse to let go, no matter the obstacles.
Enter Anthony M. Laura, writer, director, and head of Face to Face Films. Prior to the pandemic, his play, The Girl with the Red Hair, was steamrolling toward an opening. Everything was in place. It was time to reveal this passion project to the world.
Until it wasn’t.
Undeterred, channeling the relentlessness needed to thrive when the world went sideways, Anthony set aside the play and pivoted. Devoted his time to keeping actors working and to giving eager theater-aficionados the entertainment they now lacked. He dove headlong into the creation of Theater, Interrupted, his series of virtual plays and programs, ranging from classics to original content. For a solid year, his team produced one to two programs per month, focused on quality, always improving what was offered, working tirelessly.
But The Girl with the Red Hair called. Time granted him opportunity. To refine, to edit, to refocus and start anew. And this November 2-12, at the Gene Frankel Theater in New York City, his vision will come to life. The Girl with the Red Hair will have its run.
Though this is a testament to the will and perseverance of one writer and director, it’s also the product of an entire team coming together. What follows is a series of interviews with Anthony and his cast, as they prepare for November, and as they look back at a pandemic that sidelined their careers.
Check out each installment of the ongoing series of interviews with cast and director below.