Tori and Mabelle talk with Hope Villanueva about her launch into theater as a stage manager to her stint touring with the circus and beyond. Hope shares her strategies for balancing her various gigs–from writing, grad school, stage managing, dramaturgy, and her third season as the Literary Manager at Bay Street Theatre. Other topics include vomit drafts, toggling between stage and screen, and receiving feedback.
Writing prompt (courtesy of Hope Villanueva)
Character-targeted Reading. This is one of Hope’s favorite exercises when she is in the early edit stage of a script. One of the best ways she makes sense of her scripts is to do a character-targeted reading. She uses “Romeo and Juliet” as an example – from Hope: “We’re going to pretend like I wrote “Romeo and Juliet” and it was a vomit draft and the script was a mess. And I want to see if Juliet’s storyline and her journey holds up. So I’m going to read and edit through the play but only looking at Juliet’s scenes. If she is not in the scene, I’m going to skip it, and any part of a scene that she isn’t in, I’m just going to skip it. I’m literally going Juliet, Juliet, Juliet, choice to choice, action to action. Does it make sense? Does she disappear for 30 pages for some reason? Where’d she go? Let’s bring her back.”
This is a way to make sure each character’s story holds up.
Connect with Hope Villanueva:
Ms. Villanueva is a current resident of the Washington, DC area where she is an AEA Stage Manager by day and playwright by night. Vanishing Girl: A New Musical has been in development for three years – with a healthy pandemic stall – and is her first collaboration with William Yanesh.
The Veils, a full-length play about a female Marine coming home to get married, was produced as part of the Women’s Voices Theatre Festival 2018. The Veils previously received a reading at the Kennedy Center, an audio podcast recording, The Black and Latino Playwrights’ Conference 2016, at Texas State University, at the Discovery New Play Festival at Ball State University in and The Kitchen Dog New Play Festival in 2017.
The Head That Wears the Crown, was a part of the 2018 Kennedy Center Page to Stage Festival and received a developmental production in 2019 by Ally Theatre Company. It tells the story of high school queen bees who do the unthinkable to one of their own. The play was also featured as a “Play That’s Filling Me Up” on The Subtext podcast, hosted by Brian James Polack and American Theatre.
Ms. Villanueva was selected as an O’Neill Conference 2021 Finalist for The QoL Mandate, a story of bodily autonomy spun on its head and Mexican American identity. It was digitally produced during the pandemic the New Works Virtual Festival to benefit the Actors’ Fund. The QoL Mandate was previously developed by NextStop Theatre as a part of their New Play Festival in summer 2019 and was read by The Quarantine Players of NYC in 2020.
Set in Bangkok, her movement driven work about grief, Her, Across the River, was produced by Rapid Lemon in Baltimore, MD. Previously it was workshopped by DC’s Avant Bard, INKubator podcast, and The Women’s Theatre Festival’s Occupy the Space 2020.
Brackish is one of her newest plays, telling the story of a Vietnamese American family coping with an ever-shifting definition of home. Written during the pandemic, Brackish was produced to packed houses in Southern California in the summer of 2022.
Several of her short plays are published by YouthPlays, including Tidal and Anatomy, and she has several ten-minute plays included in the Code Red Playwrights series, a collaboration of writers responding to gun violence in America.
Ms. Villanueva is the current literary manager for Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, NY and is pursuing her second master’s degree in Lesley University’s Writing for Screen and Stage program. She is working on her first TV pilot and is represented by IPEX Artists’ Agency.
Check out “All of Us: A Celebration of BIPOC Voices from YouthPlays: https://www.youthplays.com/play/all-of-us-a-celebration-of-bipoc-voices-637&ref=detailed_search.php
Hope’s plays can be found on New Play Exchange: https://newplayexchange.org/users/760/hope-villanueva
Check out Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, NY: https://www.baystreet.org/
Hope is stage managing “Blues for an Alabama Sky” at the Barrington Stage Company this summer: https://barringtonstageco.org/Season-Shows/blues-alabama-sky/
“Lonely Planet” is playing at Onstage Playhouse in Chula Vista: https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=osp