The Players New Play Festival is just around the corner running July 11 through 14. It’s a wonderful tool to aid playwrights and the winner gets to see their show produced the following year. Due to Covid, we are producing two of the winners this season including our 2020 winner the thought provoking piece by Jalex Scott, The Mantle. Learn more about his work that’s making its stage premiere July 7-9 at The Players Studio 1400 Blvd. of the Arts, Suite 200 (second floor) Sarasota, FL 34236.
Amanda: Give me an elevator pitch of the show, please.
Jalex: The Mantle is a play that speaks loudly about the subject we are all taught to whisper. Mental health. A moving, sometimes funny, most times awkward adventure in which the main character must wrestle with that age-old question: “to be or not to be?”
A: How did you come up with the concept?
J: I often say that the idea for a play starts in your heart as a story that MUST be told. The Mantle first came to me during intermission of a New Play Festival reading at the players (this is definitely a full circle moment.) I was thinking of the differences between how people view freedom and the first line jumped into my head. The rest followed.
A: What does the New Play Festival mean to new playwrights?
J: The New Play Festival is an invaluable experience for new playwrights. You can write and edit a play for years on end, but the most important and helpful step is to hear your words out loud and hear how an audience reacts to them. This workshop is the perfect tool to hone the new script and ready it for the future.
A: Why do you think live theatre is important?
J: Live theatre can be used in several ways. It can be an escape, which is important in this day and age. It can also force people to confront their own ideas and beliefs. The Mantle does just that. It causes the audience to have a conversation with themselves, as awkward as it may be, without the benefit of being able to pause or walk away.
A: What do you ultimately want people to get out of your play?
J: There is (hopefully) so much to take away from The Mantle. The most important is that it is okay and normal to talk about our mental health issues. The way people freely discuss asthma or allergies is the same way anxiety and depression should be discussed.
A: What’s your writing process like?
J: My writing process is typically nonlinear. Pieces come to me before the whole takes shape. The Mantle is the first show I have written that started with the first line and came out in order.
Jalex Scott is a local actor, director and playwright. He has performed in countless shows in the area and has had his short scenes produced locally. He is an enthusiastic advocate for The New Play Festival, having participated in the festival three times as a playwright, and once as a director.