San Diego Playwrights

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ALL CIRCUITS ARE BUSY–An Interview with Hannah Logan

on November 23, 2014
Hannah Logan

Hannah Logan

HANNAH LOGAN has been immersed in the performing arts at the professional level for more than twenty years. She graduated cum laude from The Boston Conservatory with a degree in Musical Theatre and a minor in Directing.

After several of her short stories were published, Logan began a collection of short stories about the colorful characters inhabiting a small, fictional Southern town called DeSales, as seen through the eyes of a precocious and intellectually gifted nine-year old girl. Upon reading several of the stories, a Los Angeles theatre company commissioned her to turn the stories into a play. That play, TRAILERVILLE, was subsequently produced in Los Angeles and New York and garnered much positive review.

In 2012, Logan moved to San Diego to continue her pursuits as an actor, writer and voice-over artist. One critic called her “a formidable addition to the San Diego theatre scene.” She received rave reviews for her portrayal of wacky, criminally-inclined Bunny, the only female cast member, in La Jolla Playhouse’s Craig Noel Award nominated ACCOMPLICE. Additionally, she was Agnes in ion theatre’s critically acclaimed production of Tracy Letts’ BUG. (ion theatre is a 49-seat Equity-waiver theatre located in the Hillcrest area of San Diego. Hannah is a company member.) Critics referred to Logan’s performance as “fearless,” “ferocious” and a “tour de force.” Most recently, she received outstanding reviews for her portrayal of cleaning-obsessed Virginia in New Village Arts’ THE CLEAN HOUSE.

Logan received “Critic’s Pick” from UT San Diego for her self-written solo show WORKS: IN PROGRESS, produced for San Diego’s 2013 Fringe Festival. The play was based on interviews she conducted with over 100 people from all walks of life who shared their stories about their careers, experiences with work, and their hopes and dreams. In March of 2014, her one-act comedy, HOMMAGE à FROMAGE, was produced in New York City by Love Creek Productions, a runner-up in Backstage’s Reader’s Choice Awards for “Favorite Off-Off-Broadway Theater Company to See.”

We asked Hannah to tell us about her new play ALL CIRCUITS ARE BUSY.

ACABgraphic

What is your play about?

Well, the idea of a marriage that was mostly virtual was the seed from which the play was born. I saw a quote from a celebrity who was effusing about her fiancé, whom she almost never saw, because of their schedules. She said, “We are texting fiends. We text all day long.” First, I thought, “How does she get any work done if she is always texting?” Then I thought, “Well, yeah, if all I did was write little ‘letters’ to my partner we’d likely never have any conflicts or really have to work through anything.” I mean, “ I love you . . . Send me a picture of you… What did you have for breakfast?… Does the hotel have a good gym?” That’s easy. I cook brussel sprouts, which stink up the apartment for hours, and which Ron (Hannah’s husband) hates . . . that’s the stuff of life . . . the things you have to really work out. Never mind the REALLY big stuff.

ALL CIRCUITS ARE BUSY is about what I perceive to be the erosion of real human connection in the face of technological advancement and the ever-growing onslaught of “infotainment” and societal “improvements.” The lives of the main characters Penelope, Laura, Daniel, and Mavis interconnect throughout the play, while their individual experiences are largely that of disconnection or often isolation. Hopefully, it’s funnier and more compelling than that description. (Laughs) I am the WORST when it comes to describing my work . . . and one liner loglines, forget it.

I feel it is important to say that I readily acknowledge the MAJOR positive effects certain technology has also had in society, and that is made clear in the play as well, but what has disturbed me is our addiction to all the blings and dings and videos and TV shows that compel us to respond in a near-Pavlovian manner, very often, to things that are unimportant, have no real significance to our lives, or, frankly that do not need to be addressed THIS VERY MINUTE.

My hope is that ALL CIRCUITS ARE BUSY will start a dialogue about this lack of consciousness, the addiction to it, really. We, in some ways, have become zombies, following the next e-mail, post, text, reality show, with little thought about whether we want to, if it is actually worth our time or if it is pulling us away from moments in our lives that are right in front of us . . . real, intimate and often, profound.

We make so many choices . . . well, if you can call them that, out of habit . . . just letting ourselves be pushed, pulled, manipulated and stimulated by a relentless barrage of messages insisting that we simply MUST give them our attention . . . all of them, right NOW. And obviously, if most of our life is virtual we are going to miss the real thing. All that being said, I am as much a culprit of it as anyone and have even experienced anxiety making a decision to NOT pick up a text, call, message the second it comes in. Isn’t that kind of scary?

There are already rehab centers for internet and computer addiction. Did you know that? And it’s being researched for possible inclusion in the DSM (Manual for Mental Disorders). It’s a real thing, and it can affect our lives as much as alcoholism or gambling, or anything else that draws us away from facing our real lives and threatens our relationships and positive participation in society. I’ve seen five-year-olds have nuclear meltdowns when their iPads  were taken away after their allotted daily computer time.

And it’s not just about the lack of human-to-human connection. Texting while driving causes more than 3000 deaths a year and has been proven to be six times MORE dangerous than drunk driving. I have many times been certain I was driving behind someone who was drunk, they were swerving so much, only to discover they were texting . . . on the freeway!

I probably sound like an anti-technology zealot. I, in no way, mean to vilify technological advancement, only to say that our obsession with it comes at a cost.

ALL CIRCUITS ARE BUSY also touches on all the so-called “reality” programming and obsession with celebrity that is such a big part of our media. Both of them put our attention on lives that are not ours . . . and frankly, which are generally not real at all. Once I auditioned for what I later discovered was a reality-TV show. Basically, for the audition, I played the part of a waitress who goes ballistic on her manager when he accuses her of stealing. I guess my hysteria was convincing because I was offered the role and then told I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. In essence, I had to say I wasn’t an actor, but, in fact, an insane shrew. I appeared in a “reality” dating show years ago and decided then that 1) this is NOT reality and 2) these shows not only take jobs away from actors and writers, but deprive audiences of stories that are creative, require thought and perhaps even transform thinking.

Um, okay . . . off the soapbox, but that’s what my play is about . . . unless you meant “Tell me about the characters and what happens in your play,” in which case I completely failed this part of the interview. For those details, you’ll have to see it. (Laughs)

What are your challenges?

I seem to write plays that are difficult to produce, or so I have been told. I was commissioned to write TRAILERVILLE, based on short stories that the producer liked and thought would make good theatre. It had a 23 member cast, and was set in a trailer park and a diner. They made it work beautifully. However, your average theatre will not take on something of this magnitude, no matter how well-written, as it is simply “too expensive.” For the record, the theatre company that produced TRAILERVILLE was tiny, with a small budget.

It has often been my experience that large theatre companies will say “too big, too much, too many characters,” while theatres accustomed to working with tiny budgets are sometimes less daunted and simply say, “Well, this is a beast. How can we make it work in our tiny space with hardly any budget?” What is that quote? “Need breeds imagination?” No, wait. “Necessity is the mother of invention?” But then if she is the mother of invention, then she also breeds imagination . . . I’d imagine . . . right? ion theatre is a perfect example of this inventiveness. If they believe in something enough, Claudio Raygoza (Executive Artistic Director) and Glenn Paris (Producing Artistic Director) rarely say, “We can’t.” Only, “How can we?”

Another challenge of writing, at least for me, is that there is no pleasing everyone and no matter how clear you think you are, someone will determine your play is about something completely different . . . and some people hate everything . . . and not everyone laughs at the same thing. You have to write from your gut, then get it in front of an audience. For me, part of the joy of writing is watching the text come alive through talented artists who bring their own imagination and creativity to it.

What is a success for you?

I think it is a success for me to just keep writing, even if no one is watching, even if it feels like what I am writing is “unproducible,” even if not every single person laughs or cries in all the right places, even if some people just don’t get it . . . because, if you feel called to it, as I do, if you feel you must write, then I think you are meant to be a creative channel that way. And if it is produced and people do get it and are moved by it and DO laugh in the right places there is nothing like it. But that’s more like a bonus.

ALL CIRCUITS ARE BUSY--First Table Read

ALL CIRCUITS ARE BUSY–First Table Read

What is your next step?

On December 8, ion theatre is hosting the first public reading of ALL CIRCUITS ARE BUSY. Originally I gave Claudio a script to read because I was at the point where I really had no idea if it was good or not and just didn’t want to keep writing if it wasn’t. Claudio is incredibly honest and discerning. I was literally afraid to see him after I gave it to him and sort of avoided him, knowing if it was a boring, trite or unprovocative play he would kindly, but honestly, tell me.

I was forced into the inevitable when I went to scene study class, which he teaches.  He came up to me while other students were settling in and very quietly said, “I read your play . . . twice. It’s good.”

I think I repeated back, “You mean good? Like good?”

“Yes, let’s do a reading . . . get it in front of an audience.”

I might have said, “Like, people watching?”

He must have said yes, because that’s what we’re doing.

Thanks for talking with us, Hannah! Good luck with ALL CIRCUITS ARE BUSY!

Staged Reading of ALL CIRCUITS ARE BUSY by Hannah Logan

Director: Glenn Paris

Associate Producer: Claudio Raygoza

Featuring: Rhianna Basore, Laura Bohlin, Brenon Christopher, Trina Kaplan, Hannah Logan, Kevin Manley, Jackie Ritz, Whitney Brianna Thomas

Monday, December 8, 2014

6:30 pm Reception

7:00 pm Reading followed by talkback

ion theatre

3704 6th Avenue

San Diego, CA 92103

Suggested donation $10 

Reservations required. RSVP to mshannahlogan@gmail.com

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