Meet playwright Jeff Lloyd

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

Meet Lisa Anne Ross

Lisa is directing a reading of new work by our Playwright In Residence, Anna Chatterton. The play, Switched, will be presented as part of this year’s Play Out Loud: Readings of New Plays In Development series, August 1 at Picaroon’s Roundhouse.

Lisa is artistic director of Solo Chicken Productions and co-founder/co-artistic director of the coop, a platform for contemporary artists to research, develop and perform original works of physical theatre.

the coop made its public debut last summer as part of NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival with the Mainstage production, A Record of Us.

What has it been like directing Anna Chatterton’s new play for NB Acts?

Anna’s play is a romp that at first glance has a soap opera feel but then once you start peeling away the layers, is filled with complex human relationships.  There is lots of juicy text and big characters to play with that makes directing a whole lot of fun.  I love plays like this because they are fun to direct and fun to watch.

What would you say are the biggest challenges in directing a reading? 

From the first moment you read a play, you want to start getting it on its feet, meaning you want to start letting the actors find their blocking and their characters physicality.  Both of those things really inform how the text is spoken.  So when you take that away you have to get crafty about how you are going to infuse the text with the ‘idea’ of blocking and character physicality.

From your experience, how do readings like this contribute to a play’s further development? 

As a playwright, there is nothing better than hearing your words spoken aloud by a full cast.  It gives you the chance to make changes before the stress of a full production.

About The Play

It’s Claudia’s 35th birthday. But it’s also Sandy’s, who’s arrived with a birthday cake and an announcement: She and Claudia were switched at birth, and Sandy is here to switch places into her rightful status in this family. As Sandy desperately inches closer to her birth parents, Claudia is edged out of her family, her home, her life and her identity.

Directed by Lisa Anne Ross. Starring Tania Breen, Leah Holder, Elizabeth Goodyear, Michael Holmes-Lauder, and Len Falkenstein.

Play Out Loud: Readings of New Plays in Development

7:30 PM, Monday, July 31 and Tuesday, August 1 | Picaroons Roundhouse, Union Street | Admission: by donation