Ally Sass is a young playwright and actor who set a goal to someday be in the FringeNYC and this year accomplished her goal with her new play, Late Night at The Serpent*. For the playwright, writer, actor, and current MFA student at Boston University, it's a great first step to pursuing her career in writing. We were able to get a deeper insight into her work in this exclusive interview with LocalTheatreNY.com.
Q: When did the writing and playwriting begin for you? And what do you write about?
Ally Sass: I have written stories ever since I was little, though I only began to write plays in the past few years. I moved to New York City immediately after college to pursue acting and while going out on auditions, I noticed I felt as drawn to the text as I did to roles themselves. Once I began writing scripts I couldn’t stop. I believe humans are more alike than they are different and that well-written characters can serve as a way to convey stories and experiences that may hold universal truths for all people. My plays often grapple with larger themes, executed through smaller, intimate moments. I love writing comedies and dramas in equal measure, and I would like to think that all my plays contain elements of both.
Q: Tell us about Late Night at The Serpent. When did you begin writing it, how has it evolved to the point that it's now opening at The FringeNYC?
Ally Sass: I first wrote Late Night at the Serpent as a short story in a fiction writing class at Gotham Writers Workshop in New York City. I felt that due to its conversational nature and timely themes, it would make for a compelling script. For the past few years, I’ve wanted to write a play that was part of Fringe NYC, and I was particularly attached to this piece, so I sent it in. I was thrilled when it was accepted and am excited for this story to be seen.
Q: Why did you write this play? What is it about this story that inspired you to write it and why?
Ally Sass: I wrote this play as a representation of what the “male code” can look like between men and the dangers that deeply buried secrets can evoke within them. There is an elephant in the room between “Ian” and “Pat” and I thought it would be interesting to see how far each character would go in an attempt to pretend it isn’t there. I intentionally set the play in the mid 1990s, when those who wanted to watch pornographic videos had to go out and buy them, thus placing themselves in vulnerable position in terms of anonymity.
Q: Tell us about the talent working with you. Describe how you are collaborating and how it has changed the play, if it has…?
Ally Sass: I am thrilled to have the widely respected artist and very close friend, Elizabeth Callahan, directing this piece. She and I studied theatre together at the University of Vermont and it was there she showcased her ability as a highly creative and talented storyteller. Working with Liz has been so exciting, as she has taken the words I’ve written and added such depth to them. She has incorporated provocative moments of magical realism to the piece that I would have never thought to include, and she isn’t afraid to take risks. She also hones in on the more intimate moments of the script in a way that is telling of her ability as a director. This was my first time not directing my own piece and while the thought of that was a little daunting at first, I see now the importance of letting go of one’s own work and putting it in the hands of another creative and hardworking person, like Elizabeth. The actors in this play, Trevor van Uden and Joseph Dalfonso are also terrific. They each are so skilled at picking up on the subtler moments of the script and also heightening the tension the lay between the dramatic moments.. Elizabeth and I both feel very grateful to have them working on this project with us.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with this play? This story? This production?
Ally Sass: Above all, I want this play to have an impact on those who watch it. I want the audience to be able to walk out of the theater ready to have a discussion about the rules humans place on themselves for fear of isolation or being ostracized. I would love for this play to continue to be produced and exist on many platforms in the years to come.
Q: Why did you want to be in the the FringeNYC? How did it end up happening?
Ally Sass: FringeNYC is one of the most established theatre festivals in New York City, so it has been on my radar for a long time. I am grateful to have been producing work in the NYC festival circuit for a few years now, and the Fringe marks a really wonderful steppingstone for my work. This festival also allowed for me to work with one of the best creative teams I could ask for.
Q: What's personally next for you?
Ally Sass: I am currently in my first semester of the MFA Playwriting program at Boston University and hope to create more provocative work while I’m here. I would love to continue to produce in New York and elsewhere after I graduate. I am beginning to learn the ins and outs of screenwriting as well, so I would also love to venture down that path in the coming years.
Late Night at the Serpent
Written by Ally Sass & Directed by Elizabeth Callahan
Set in a porn shop in New Hampshire, Late Night at the Serpent is a drama about an accidental run-in between two former high school friends and the secrets revealed when an intense snowstorm traps them in the store. (Drama, Runtime: 45 Minutes)
Performances (click on date to purchase Tickets)
SUNDAY, October 21 @ 8:15
MONDAY, October 22 @ 7:30
THURSDAY, October 25 @ 7:30
SATURDAY, October 27 @ 9:30
SUNDAY, October 28 @ 2:30
Tickets are available here: www.latenightattheserpent.com
*This show is not suitable for children.