Leta Tremblay on Gen & Mabel / by Declan Maloney Drummond

After being described by Cincinnati CityBeat as "One of the most refreshingly honest and relatable portrayals of modern dating," Leta Tremblay's electric Gen & Mabel has made it's way to NYC after a successful run at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival.  

The show is directed by the great Mariah MacCarthy, and can be seen Friday, July 8th at Ensemble Studio Theatre.  http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3014387

What is Gen and Mabel about?

Gen & Mabel is about two women trying to fall in love with each other. And what happens next. It's about being vulnerable with a new person and explores using vulnerability as a shortcut to intimacy. It's basically my heart on a platter with all of the rainbow and storm clouds on display.

Why did you feel like this was a story that needed to be told?

We need more stories with women at the center in all of our varied circumstances and experiences. We also need more Queer stories in their complexity. When I set out to write this play, I knew that these realities would guide it. Gen & Mabel showed up and started talking to each other. After they met, the text just poured out of me. I wrote this play, my story, because I've never seen it before on stage.

How has the casting and rehearsal process been?

We have been so lucky to be working with incredibly talented actresses. Sarah Matteucci has been with the project since the first table read. I have been wanting to work with her for years and years and finally the stars aligned and she became my perfect Mabel. She is so precise, thoughtful, and hardworking. She has taught me so much about this character. Kayla Jackmon was the first person to audition for Gen and she set the bar high. So high in fact that we had to give her the part. Kayla brings such joy to the room. She questions everything while digging into the heart of each moment and then throws herself in full force with such abandon that it's sometimes difficult to see where Kayla ends and Gen begins. 

How has it been reversing your usual roles, and working together as a team (Mariah MacCarthy as director you as the playwright)?

SO STRANGE! But so gratifying at the same time. When it comes to playmaking, Mariah and I trust each other implicitly. That's not to say that we don't disagree sometimes, but our working relationship has developed to the point where we can often anticipate what the other is thinking or how they need support. I wrote Gen & Mabel in Mariah's writing class last Autumn so she has been with the piece and pushing me to write more and dig deeper from the very beginning. What I've learned through this process is that because we both come to the work with that level of trust, it doesn't matter what our roles are, the partnership works in all configurations.   

How was your experience with the piece at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival?  Did you make a lot of new discoveries that you could bring back for the NYC performances?

The Cincy Fringe was awesome. If you ever have an opportunity to go, DO IT. They are lovely lovely people at The Know Theatre and they made us feel so welcomed. This play particularly touched our Venue Tech, Ryan Church, who became a strong friend and advocate for the work. As far new discoveries... just putting something in front of an audience for the first time opens up a whole world of possibilities that we never expected before. Those Cincy audiences taught us, and the actors especially, so much. Our New York audience has them to thank for the show that they are seeing for sure. 

What’s next for both of you?

Among other things, Mariah and I are collaborating on a new solo show called You Should Love My Body. Expect to be hearing about a workshop with All For One in November. In the meantime, Mariah is bringing Baby Mama to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August and I'm in development with Soomi Kim on her upcoming show MLCG, inspired in part by David Bowie, to be presented at Dixon Place in November. I've also started a Summer Writer's Group...