Playwright Dori Appel has published, produced and performed her original theatrical works for decades. Her plays have won international acclaim and numerous awards (including the Oregon Book Award in drama). Appel will perform in April at The Dance Space in Ashland. We met over coffee and scripts at The Coffee Place above Bloomsbury Books.
EH: What kinds of plays do you write?
DA: I tend to be a somewhat quirky playwright. I am often funny, but even with the humorous pieces, there’s often a serious undercurrent. I write comedies about serious things. I’d like it always to be a mix of those things. Any funny piece that I write has a human quality to it, where there are real people. I’m not really interested in farce. My work is character-driven. I like there to be people who deserve some sympathetic response. I’m interested in characters who have something that is important to them, that needs to be worked out.
“Alice Through the Looking Glass,” directed by Chris Sackett, opens Feb. 11 at Southern Oregon University’s Center Square Theatre. Tara Watkins plays Alice. Sackett, Watkins and I met in the SOU Theatre Arts Department one afternoon to discuss the production of the new adaptation by SOU alumnus Craig Jessen.
EH: Is “Alice Through the Looking Glass” done in modern times?
CS: It’s done in “dream time.” Lewis Carroll, Charles Dodgson (his real name), was writing during Victoria’s time. We have roughly moved up the time of our real world to Edwardian, but once we get through the Looking Glass, it’s dream time. It’s not specific to a given time.
EH: What do you have in store for us visually?
CS: In Looking Glass world, we go through a variety of environments. We’re in the small space, it’s intimate, and Looking Glass space is going all the way to the walls. A basic conceit of the story is, “Let’s pretend. Let’s expand our horizons.” We are going to be doing some experimental approaches to establishing environment.