Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: The production, Transference, will be appearing at the Hollywood Fringe Festival this summer. For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the show, how would you describe its premise?
Jim Blanchette: Transference is about a woman who undergoes hypnotherapy to cure her smoking addiction. When she comes out of hypnosis, she remembers all of her past lives. And that her therapist has been the love of her life in every lifetime. Once the therapist learns this, she has to determine if her patient is telling the truth or is performing some sort of elaborate seduction. This production marks the world premiere of the play.
BD: As the writer and director of the show, what inspired the creation of this project?
JB: Truthfully, the inspiration came from my two actresses. My wife, the uber-talented Lisa K. Wyatt, and I were watching a show at last year’s Fringe called With My Eyes Shut starring Esther Mira. To put it mildly, Esther was phenomenal. Lisa casually mentioned to me as we were talking about the show how much she’d like to do a show with Esther. That’s when a lightbulb went off. I sat down that night and started to write with both of their voices in my head. A few weeks later, I had the first draft. It took some time before I was done fiddling with it to turn it over to Esther to read. It was shortly after that when we had our first reading and both women were on board.
BD: What can you tell us about the cast and crew who are bringing Transference to life, and how would you describe the creative process by the ensemble?
JB: As I mentioned, I wrote it with the two women specifically in mind, so their cadence and energy helped inform the drafts. In the rehearsal process, the piece takes on a life of its own. Even though I heard their voices in my head as I wrote it, actually hearing them speak the words aloud changes everything. They don’t say the lines anything like how I hear it in my head, which is absolutely invigorating. There is never one perfect way to say a line. The more they play with the text, the more we discover unintended but powerful interpretations of the lines. That’s how I begin to know that my script is in good shape, because the women can find lots of different interpretations that work.
Another great thing my actors bring to the play is their ability to find moments when their characters are being less than honest. Humans rarely communicate with 100% truthfulness. We stretch the truth, we exaggerate, we tell out and out lies. Sometimes, we say I love you or I hate you and we don’t mean it. When they find those moments, the play takes on new dimensions.
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
JB: We look at love from a different perspective. An extremely long term prospective. “Theirs was a love for the ages.” I’ve read or heard that kind of sentiment in movies and plays and romantic literature of all kinds. Love is eternal. In Transference, we examine the concept literally. What if love, as proclaimed by one of the characters in the play, survives lifetime after lifetime? How does it evolve? Can it last? When is it time to just give up? By placing this love story over multiple lives, we can address love in a fantastic hypothetical way. Hopefully, we can then learn lessons about our current, less immortal loves.
BD: What makes the Hollywood Fringe Festival the best venue for Transference?
JB: The beautiful thing about the Fringe model is the immediacy. You don’t have to wait for a theatre company to read your play, decide whether or not it’s worth doing, go through a lengthy development process and then mount it. You can write your play, rehearse it, and see if it works as well as you think it does by putting it up yourself. Of course, we’d all like people to produce our plays for us, but sometimes, just taking a chance on yourself and your work is just as important.
No one is expecting full scale productions at Fringe. If they are, they are being quite naïve. We are doing raw theatre, and it is potent.
BD: The show will be appearing at the Broadwater Black Box Theatre from June 8-29, 2019. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
JB: When my actors first read it, they thought it was a film idea rather than a Fringe play. The next step is to write it as a film script and see what potential it has. As far as the stage version, this is a piece that fits well with a series of one-acts I have written called The Omega Chronicles. When I mount this play again, I’d love to present it in as part of an evening of those one acts. That said, if the audience response is enthusiastic, I’d love to find a new venue to continue the run if we have the support of a local theatre company.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects that you would care to share with our readers?
JB: I am currently working as the dramaturg and script consultant on a new musical. It’s still in its developmental stages, but it has plans to go to New York. It is my sixth such project. I can’t say more than that because of an NDA.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for Transference?
JB: If people want to learn more about the show, or to purchase tickets they can go to https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/6026 or http://hff19.org/6026 and check it out. The preview performance on June 8 is a Pay What You Can performance, and people can name their own price.