Jeff’s play Both Ways is one of three new plays presented as part of our Play Out Loud reading series.
Jeff Lloyd is a teacher by day and a playwright by night. He has directed nine musicals and dozens of short plays. He’s facilitated several pieces of devised theatre, runs high school playwriting workshops and coaches improv. In total, Jeff has written 22 plays and this is his fifth year working with NotaBle Acts.
As he explains in his writer’s notes (found in this year’s festival program), Both Ways has been in development for more than five years. Through countless revisions, character changes and several variations in storyline, life in rural New Brunswick has remained at the centre Jeff’s latest work.
We asked Jeff to explain his connection to rural New Brunswick and how it relates to the story told in Both Ways.
Despite the many revisions you detail in your notes, the play’s connection to rural New Brunswick remained. Why has this thematic element remained a constant through the play’s many revisions?
I’ve always lived in New Brunswick and I’m concerned about New Brunswick, so characters in my plays are always questioning their relationship to this place.
I live in Moncton, because I got a job teaching at Bernice MacNaughton High School. I’ve lived here for the past eleven years. I like my job, I like my school and most of the time I like living in Moncton. But sometimes, when I visit other places I like to imagine what life would be like, if I’d gotten a job there. If I spent my days teaching different students, and working with different colleagues, how different would I be? Or would I mostly be the same person? How does my community affect who I am?
I’m fascinated about why people live where they live, so this question is always present in my writing.
What would you say is the biggest lesson you’ve learned throughout the development of this story?
During my last rewrite, a key detail about one character’s experience changed. It was just a small detail, but it opened up a new problem for her life, and it gives her a more compelling struggle. So I learned to never be too settled on who the characters are and that writing this play might have just been the opportunity to discover this new detail, and that will lead me to write an entirely new play.
How does it feel to have this play finally developed to the point that it’s ready for a public reading?
I’m grateful to have the opportunity to work with NB Acts again this summer and I’m really looking forward to the reading. When actors breathe life into the characters and give them a voice for the first time, it gives me a different perspective on who the characters are. It allows me the opportunity to actually hear these characters for the first time. It’s a very valuable part of the process.
What’s next for Both Ways?
This fall, I will be directing two of my previous NB Act plays for Hubcity Theatre. I’m excited about this new opportunity and if it goes well, perhaps they will be interested in producing Both Ways in the future. I may also submit it to Script Happens, the play development program run by the Saint John Theatre Company. Or I might just set it aside for a few months and see what happens when I look at it again with a fresh perspective.
About the Play
Nineteen-year olds Courtney and Taylor can’t wait to get out of Brewster. Thirty-five year old Dr. Beth Cooper is thinking of moving back from Toronto and taking over as town doctor. Their worlds collide with that of Jake Matthews, Beth’s old flame, as they ponder the push and pull of rural New Brunswick from the confines of the Thirsty Duck tavern.
Directed by Linda McNutt. Starring Leah Holder, Ian Murphy, Stephanie Doucette, and Amelia Hay.
To be followed by performance of Taking it to the Streets: Four 10-Minute Plays
Play Out Loud: Readings of New Plays in Development
Both Ways + Taking It To The Streets | 7:30 PM, Monday, July 31 | Picaroons Roundhouse, Union Street | Admission: by donation
Switched + The Dealer Always Wins | 7:30 PM, Tuesday, August 1 | Picaroons Roundhouse, Union Street | Admission: by donation