Tickets: alleyway.com, 852-2600
be about until I happened upon Roland
Barthes’ Mourning Diary, which broke
my heart. After further research on
his work and the tendencies of grief, I
began to weave together story, social
criticism, symbolism, and other aspects
of Barthes’ teaching. I highlighted these
with powerful emotional moments, rel-
ishing how live performance can affect
an audience. I’ve attempted to illumi-
nate human struggle through artistic
query, giving voice to the frustrations of
life after tragedy, and, hopefully, offer-
ing a sense of hope and peace to all of
us who experience it.”
The Rain Dogs Project
By various playwrights
American Repertory Theatre of WNY, May
Synopsis: Tom Waits has been painting an Americana landscape with his
music over the past three decades.
Many of his lyrics weave fictional individuals through nonfictional settings in
the same “dirty reality” style as American short-story writer Raymond Carver and poet Charles Bukowski. The
characters, the lives they lead, the dialogues, the monologues within Waits’
vast encyclopedia of songs lend themselves to being brought to life in a theatrical setting.
From ART/WNY artistic director
Matthew LaChiusa: “The Rain Dogs
Project utilizes the talents of local
playwrights in a forum that bases one-act works on Tom Waits’ music. Each
work will be based on one of Waits’
songs, and will coordinate with others
to create a La Ronde feel as characters
intercept one another along the
Tickets: artofwny.org, 697-0837
Playwright Donna Hoke’s new play, Sons & Lovers,
opens September 15 at Buffalo United
Sons & Lovers
Resident and ensemble
playwright at Road Less
Donna Hoke’s work has
been seen in forty states
and on five continents.
Plays include The Couple
Next Door (Princess Grace
semifinalist), Safe (winner
of the Todd McNerney,
Naatak, and Great Gay Play
and Musical Contests),
the Artie-winning Seeds,
and Elevator Girl (2017
O’Neill finalist). Hoke
serves on the Dramatists
Guild Council and also as
Western New York regional
new play, Sons & Lovers,
is premiering at Buffalo
United Artists. Senior
editor Wendy Guild
Swearingen spoke with
Hoke about her latest
Tell me what the play is about.
The official synopsis is in the “Buffalo Premiers” story on page 34. Thematically, it speaks to what we each
have to negotiate and/or give up in our relationships in order to be satisfied. And it’s a comedy.
How did you come up with the concept for this play? Is the title a reference to D. H. Lawrence’s
novel of the same name?
Three of the characters were originally part of a ten-minute play that ran in BUA Takes 10: GLBT Short
Stories in 2015; it was called Best Interests and featured Caitlin Coleman and Kevin Craig as mother and son
attracted to the same waiter. Javier Bustillos, the artistic director of Buffalo United Artists, thought my writing
voice was a good fit for Caitlin’s acting voice, and, as Caitlin is a company member at BUA, wondered if I
could expand this ten-minute piece into a vehicle for Caitlin.
Originally, the title—which was probably the most difficult title I’ve ever tried to come up with—was Open and
Shut, but I never loved it and it never felt right. Then the play had a reading in Florida at Island City Stage, and
the things I learned from that reading, and the revisions that resulted, made it easy to come up with a much
more appropriate title, Sons & Lovers. Definitely with an ampersand.
A few people have asked about a possible connection to the novel; there isn’t one, other than in college, a
friend once inscribed something to me: “To the big DH, not Lawrence.” But, interestingly, if you go look at the
first sentences of a Sons and Lovers synopsis—e.g., Gertrude Morel has an unhappy marriage to coal miner
Walter Morel in the English town of Bestwood. She is most devoted to her eldest son, William—there are
similarities! The son’s name is even Bill, which was total coincidence, because I haven’t read Lawrence’s novel
since high school. But, the play is far less tragic than the novel.
Do you identify with any of the characters in particular?
It’s easy to say that I have the most in common with Ellen, but, as with any play, every character is me in
different form, and people can usually pick that up.
What’s it like working at BUA?
My first full-length production in Buffalo— The Couple Next Door, which has been running almost four years
in Romania—was at Road Less Traveled Productions for the 2010 Curtain Up! I’ve had shorts produced at
Subversive, Alleyway, and BUA, but this is the first full-length that I’ve had at a theater other than Road Less
Traveled, which also produced Seeds in 2013 and Safe in 2016. So, it’s kind of cool that this show is also for
Curtain Up! as it marks a first of a different kind.
I’m grateful to Javier not just for producing the play, but for its very existence! I never would have thought to
expand the original short. Comedy is never something I start out to write, but, because the tone of this play
was set in that ten minutes, it was easier to continue with it, and I’m happy with the result. Without his push, it
never would have happened.
Donna Hoke is Spree’s Home editor and writes about theater for Spree and Forever Young. For more information on her
work, visit donnahoke.com.