The following is an interview with playwright/director Mandy Rubeli regarding the upcoming launch of the production, Arizona Rain, with studio/stage in Los Angeles, CA. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Rubeli about the creative process of bringing the story to life, the experience of seeing it live on stage for the first time, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Arizona Rain will make its live, onstage debut this month. For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the show, how would you describe its premise?
Mandy Rubeli: Arizona Rain is a 90-minute one act where the introspective, yet indecisive, Crissy drives thirteen hours after a near-death experience, showing up unannounced at the doorstep of her ex- girlfriend Marcy, looking for comfort and solutions to all her problems. Crissy rides an emotional roller coaster as she wonders how much would have been left unsaid if she had died. Marcy refuses to let Crissy stew in these emotions, so the pair take turns calling ghosts from their past to tie up loose ends as they work to understand their own complicated, love-filled relationship.
BD: As the playwright and director, what can you tell us about your shared creative process in working with the cast and crew to bring the show to life?
MR: While yes, I am technically the writer and the director, I feel strange holding these titles fully on my own, as this process has been so collaborative. The script was being workshopped until about two and a half weeks before the show, so we were constantly bouncing ideas off of one another in rehearsals. Even after rehearsals, I would go over to some of the actor’s apartments and work on my edits based on their suggestions that night, and continue asking them to read lines out loud, asking if the story was clear, what they would do instead, etc., the list goes on. Especially Linnea Gardner and Jordan Crites, the stage manager/co-producer and the actress playing “Marcy,” who carefully helped me dissect the story, bring it to life with staging, and dealt with me asking them both “Does this make sense???” every two seconds. I feel incredibly lucky to have such an amazing team of actors and crew members who were so willing to offer not only their talents, but also their creative input that served us so well when bringing this piece to life. I have traditionally only been in actor roles when it comes to theater productions, and I always loved when directors gave me freedom to play with blocking and the lines, so I tried to do the same. I eventually even ended up telling the actors they could shift lines to whatever seemed to be the most natural to them. As we kept saying throughout rehearsals, “The script is just the vibe.”
BD: Given that this production was previously a part of the 2021 Emerson Stage NewFest which was performed virtually via Zoom, what has been your experience in bringing the production to the stage for an in-person viewing?
MR: It has been so thrilling to put this production on its feet the way it was written to be. Watching the actors breathe full life into these characters, and not just through a screen, has been really impactful. It has also been helpful to have actors reading the lines out loud in person, as there was so much non-verbal communication we were now able to play with that does not translate over Zoom. Moreover, there are moments of the script that deal with physical intimacy that are key to encapsulating the full story, and it has been wonderful to watch these moments the way they were meant to be seen.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects that you would care to share with our readers?
MR: I have high hopes of taking Arizona Rain to the Hollywood Fringe Festival, which I am sure will result in an even more mature and developed script.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about Arizona Rain and to purchase tickets?
MR: I would tell readers that despite the seemingly heavy premise, this show is delightfully playful, with the phone calls leaving the readers cracking up in their seats – guaranteed. My stage manager and I are hysterically laughing every single rehearsal. The show reads almost like a childish game of truth or dare – playful and fun at first, but with the possibility of getting really real very quickly. I would tell readers Arizona Rain is all about confessing all your deepest, darkest secrets, and the joys and woes that come from that. This show invites us to live as our full authentic selves, and to embrace the consequences that come from doing so, or holding back on that.