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By The Editors
While the COVID-19 pandemic has hit artists, especially performing artists, hard, it hasn't stopped some people from finding creativity amidst the chaos. Meagan J. Meehan, a New York City-based writer, is one of those people. Meehan has written everything from journalistic columns to poetry, and has even started to work in toy and game design. Recently though, Meehan came out with a theatrical play, "Soul to Squeeze."
"Soul to Squeeze" sees a devil and an angel fighting over a soul in a ridiculous comedy that can help bring some much needed light-heartedness in these times.
Quail Bell Magazine recently spoke with Meagan J. Meehan about "A Soul to Squeeze" and what creating has been like during the pandemic.
Quail Bell: What was your inspiration and writing process for this play?
Meagan J. Meehan: This play was inspired by a 48-hour one-act online play festival that was hosted by Long Island’s Theater Outta Bounds back in May. It worked like this: ten playwrights (who were chosen based on past experiences working with TOB) were emailed a prompt at 9pm on a Wednesday night. The prompt was "Creativity in Quarantine." We then had until 9pm on Friday (aka 48-hours) to write a one-act play centered around that theme. I had been kicking an idea around in my head concerning an Angel and a Devil fighting over cake and, somehow, that got translated into "Soul to Squeeze"! Both angel food cake and devil's food cake are mentioned more than once! I wrote the play whilst sunbathing in a local park one Thursday afternoon (with my mask at the ready in case any passerby got within six feet of me, of course) and then edited it the following day. I sent it back to the theater a few hours before the 9pm due date on the Friday.
QB: How or why do you think the archetypes of the angel and devil still speak to modern audiences, even people who do not practice a religion?
Meehan: At this point, the Angel and Devil archetypes are very characteristic, even cartoony. We associate Angels with goodness and Heaven and Devils with badness and Hell. I think the second anyone sees an Angel costume or a Devil costume they get an idea in their mind of what that character is like. I relied on that understanding mindset in order to make "Soul to Squeeze" work. It's a very silly comedy but not at all religious or moralizing...although both the Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Virtues are listed!
QB: What has your writing practice, or more generally your creative practice, been like during the pandemic?
Meehan: The pandemic has actually allowed me some extra time to be creative, especially when it comes to my visual art. I’ve completed an entire series of abstract mixed-media paintings which will be displayed at Art Expo in Manhattan in April of 2021 courtesy of Art Blend Gallery. Of course, that is only if Covid doesn’t return to wreck havoc into next Spring!
QB: What shifts have you noticed in theatre during this time? What do you like or find encouraging about any of these shifts?
Meehan: The biggest shift I’ve seen is the use of technology like Zoom to tell a story. While I do prefer the traditional medium of having work presented on an actual stage, Zoom enables people from all over the world to tune in and work together, communicate, and entertain one another. That's something that isn't possible in real life if people aren't in the same location. I also liked the challenge of designing this play for Zoom, as if the Angel and Devil were trying to secure the sleepy through through its computer screen! I think it's a cool new medium to play with and is something that could continue long after the pandemic, especially for monologue-type pieces.
QB: What do you hope will happen next for this play or other plays you've written during the pandemic?
Meehan: II hope to see "Soul to Squeeze" staged, live, with three actors in an indoors venue one day with a full stage and proper lighting and sound. I recently debuted it as part of the outdoors Bethpage Arts Festival which took place on Long Island during the last weekend of September (and was also hosted by Theater Outta Bounds with the Long Island Theater Collective). I had to rework the play to create an "offline version" that featured a third actor playing the part of the soul. It worked really well! I actually think it's funnier offline than online. Hence, I would really like to do it again on a traditional stage.
View the play "A Soul to Squeeze" right here:
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