Meet the Playwright: Makaela Shealy-Sachot
It's opening night for if there is breakage you can find chips! It's a new kind of opening for Moxie, although one we've certainly become familiar with in our lives as theatergoers. Instead of all of us squeezing into (slightly-squeaky, slightly-too-close-together) seats and turning off all of our screens, we're tuning into our TVs, laptops, and phones from our homes, separate, but through the magic of theatre, still together. You can get your tickets to tonight's premiere at 7:30pm ET here, as well as tickets for shows at 7:30pm every night through Sunday.
chips came together, from first virtual rehearsal to final hour of filming on the Irondale stage, in a little over a month. This lightning-fast process could not have been possible without the array of superstar artists working on every aspect of the show. The very first of those was writer Makaela Shealy-Sachot! On this opening night we're grateful to her for trusting Moxie with this unconventional world-premiere, and we can't wait to share the world she built on the page with you tonight.
Check out Mak's bio below, and read on for a Q&A with them about the highs and lows of being a multi-hyphenate, queer love, the uniquely communal nature of theatre, and more, featuring photos from chips!
Makaela (Mak) Shealy-Sachot (she/they) is a writer, performer and published poet based in New York City, Paris & South Carolina. Mak’s entry point into the world of playwriting comes from consistently showing up at the crossroads of self with questions in tow. Mak aims to build windows that allow for previously blocked channels to be opened and she is a real sucker for investigative collaboration. Her work has been seen at The Tank, Shetler Studios (rip), with Kervigo Ensemble Theatre, Original Idiots as part of The Generator and the Samuel French OOB Festival. She’s created original immersive material for The Balcony Arts, The Cell Theater, & Wonder Media Network. She is currently collaborating as a member of the Women’s Work New Perspective’s 2021 Short Play Lab. NYU Tisch BFA. Ring of Keys & Dramatist Guild Member. IG: @makattackssnacks
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Tell us about the writing process for chips.
This play started with a scene in a class that I was taking at ESPA and I couldn't let the characters go. It's been the quickest writing process to workshop that I've ever had so far, and I've felt really lucky to be working with Original Idiots as part of The Generator on this play. When Irondale emailed that they wanted to include chips in their programming for this festival, I knew that I'd have to speed up my editing timeline, but honestly, I'm still in the phase of learning about my playwriting where I cram an entire edit into one long procrastination fueled evening! I'm trying to break this habit -- maybe next year.
What drives you to work in the theatre?
The thing I love most about working in theatre is the space for community and the demand art makes to hold space for itself. It's what has drawn me back to this work time and time again -- creating and recreating the team of people who can help tell a story in its truest form. I love the beautiful chorus of voices that happens when you get into a room with as many perspectives as possible -- and I love how much that I get to learn about all the That's when the kind of art that fires me up begins to take shape: when designers, directors, writers, performers and producers all get to the heart of what sucked us into this field: PLAY.
I'm sure everyone says that, and it sounds idealistic and like my head is stuck in the clouds, but I guess it still is -- I've got my jaded moments about other aspects of the multi's that make up my multi-hyphenate (auditioning for commercials where I have to straighten my hair and mime holding a duck, for example), but for now, writing for the theatre feels activating and communal and like I'm constantly falling in love.
Who is a woman+ artist (or artists!) you admire, and why?
Luckily for me, I'm blessed with an extremely talented community of friends and collaborators. Some people that everyone should know and support: Melissa Mowry (director/performer): who creates such a brave and sacred rehearsal room and is one of the most supportive artists to have on a developmental team; Maggie Monahan (director/dramaturge): who is a fearless leader and master wrangler of ensemble pieces; Amara Janae Brady (director/writer/performer): she consistently dreams up better worlds and writes kickass music to boot; Uma Paranjpe (writer/performer/Moxie Commission member!): is one of the hardest working people I know, with an exceptional talent for imagination and community building and last but most assuredly not least, Maya Carter (writer/performer/everything): who I am lucky enough to call a collaborator and friend and who continues to surprise me with the capacity that they have to create. Good collaborators make the world go round and I am thankful for each and every opportunity that I've had to get into a room and make something up (that's what we are doing, isn't that wild?) with so many incredible people.
Why is chips an important piece for right now?
On a practical (// we all miss making theatre note): When I spoke with the artists as I was building this team, through the nerves of creating something for the first time in a year the sentiment of needing to be in communion with other curious people was always mentioned. Selfishly, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this process has healed my spirit. Watching Sagan and Liz develop this palpable connection over Zoom rehearsals was such a gift. Knowing that we needed to create intimacy and connection (in such a disconnected moment in time) with a 6 foot distance between our performers at all times was an electric challenge that I was honored to tackle with our director, Abigail.
On a more existential note: I can't get enough of healthy queer love. I really wanted to explore the ins and outs of how two people who genuinely take their time to know their partner function. In a very broad sense, I became obsessed with memory this year. I found myself meditating constantly on what people will tell their children about this time in our history -- what little moments will stick and what will disappear into the ether -- what could I remember about my own parents recalling their own 20s and 30s. It genuinely scares me how little I remember sometimes and I wonder where those memories go when we forget them. Abigail Jean-Baptiste (our director) said that she thinks of this play as a library of memories and I love that -- I wish it were real. Maybe we could learn from our mistakes if we could take notes in the margins of our memories.