Spotlight on the Playwright – Alison Neuman (The Sunset Syndrome)

alison neumanWhat is your role in this production? I am the playwright of The Sunset Syndrome.

What is your background in theatre? I have had a love for theatre since I was a young child. I have taken several courses on acting and musical theatre. Now I have a focus on playwriting versus performing.

What brought you to Walterdale? My friend suggested I submit to the From Cradle to Stage New Works Festival at Walterdale. I was drawn to the fact that Walterdale Theatre Productions are about the love of the theatre and the quality of the art.

What do you think audiences will take away from this production? Why should they come see it? The Sunset Syndrome is a love story about two people, their family and finding a home. I hope the audiences will take away the love, the relationships and the strength of the characters. Also, that every person has a story and a voice, even if the voice is quiet or the message is not conveyed verbally.

Is this your first play? If not, what else have you written? This is technically my second play. My first, a musical, Searching for Normal, was based on my memoir and was produced for the 2013 Edmonton
International Fringe Theatre Festival.

Why did you want to write this play? In 2014, I heard a story of a B.C. woman with dementia who choose to end her life. Her story sparked an idea in my head of how a person would weigh such a decision and how a decision could be justified for either life or death. I wanted to shed some light on how dementia patients lose many parts of their existence while they are travelling through the stages but even if they are unable to communicate in traditional ways, there is always a soul that has a story, friends, family and should always be heard.

Can you tell us a bit about the process of having a play developed and produced at Walterdale for From Cradle to Stage? The Walterdale Theatre From Cradle to Stage process has been a nurturing and growth opportunity for not only my play, but also for myself as an emerging playwright. The meetings with my dramaturg and assistant dramaturg, posed questions to help me polish and tweak the messaging and intention of the content. Also, the first read permitted an opportunity to visually see the power of the words through the delivery and movement of the actors. Being included in the directing process has provided me insight as to what the actors require in the play and also the magic directors create in their process. Every effort has been made to ensure the structure and process of the playwright in included in all facets of the production and that the lines of communication were always open. The Walterdale team, the From Cradle to Stage Team, and the Production Team,  have provided an opportunity to see what is included in getting the play to the stage and executing very performance. I have learned so much from every individual who has been involved in the process, and I am forever grateful for this opportunity.

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