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The Jester Interview: Arroyave & Hilborn (cont.)


MS: Is this strictly a comedy all the way through or does it become dramatic?

KA: I would describe it as a dramedy.

GH: These are very real people. Sometimes they’re funny and sometimes they’re funny when they don’t mean to be or they’re funny when it’s inappropriate. Sometimes things just change like that. It could be very serious and then the next minute you’re laughing. It’s because they’re very real characters. They’re not in any way caricatures, even though they’re both big personalities. We’ve really tried very hard to make them very grounded.

KA: I like to try to put as many laughs as I can, because of the subject matter and the dark places where it goes. So as I’m writing, things just come to me, but I’m also very aware of when it’s really inappropriate to try and have a laugh in there. That’s part of my writing process. It’s enjoyable to do that, to think, ‘She could say this.’ That’s what makes the writing process for me, to make it as humorous as I can without being inappropriate or trying to go for a cheap laugh.


MS: Was there something that you thought might be too dark to play for laughs?

KA: I actually made it darker. She has a speech about Facebook. The first one was very tame. When I was rewriting it, I thought, let’s get to the real heart of the matter. So she talks about the possibility of a Facebook friend dying and how that would affect another so-called Facebook friend. After I wrote that, I thought that’s really dark and I still feel that it’s very dark, but it’s also true and therefore funny, I think. … But it’s people who are strictly Facebook friends, not people who were friends already and also on Facebook.


MS: Does that play a part in the reality show that the play starts with?

GH: Chula has a lot of ideas. Chula has a lot of opinions on different subjects and we cover a lot of ground. For the most part, Mickey’s along for the ride. She feels very passionately about a lot of subjects. The discussion is very organic. One thing leads to another. The characters are very real. If we do our job correctly, people will feel like they’re really sitting in someone’s living room, overhearing a conversation between two friends, one of whom is very opinionated. They both have opinions. One of them says them more often.


KA: Because she feels the need to say them more often. But what I tried to do with Mickey is when he does interject with his wisdom, I wanted it to be … Mickey’s more in reality than Chula is, so that right there gives him an advantage. Chula’s living in the past or in some kind of – she’s not grounded in reality. It takes him to bring her there.


MS: It sounds like you made her more likeable or accessible than the previous show.

KA: In the first one, Chula herself was just darker. She was just more in her own world. She was agoraphobic & never left her apartment. Now it’s the opposite. She works two jobs. She’s always out of the apartment, she’s always doing stuff. She’s just more in the world. That’s the only way I can describe it. She’s not as paralyzed. The last Chula was really paralyzed.


MS: What has been fulfilling for you, realizing this and getting this to this point now?

KA: The fact that I finished the play – because I really thought I wasn’t going to finish another play. To start seven plays is ridiculous. … That was very fulfilling. It was fulfilling for me to write Chula again because I wanted to, after I did the first version of Chula, I felt that I couldn’t take any credit for creating her but the truth is that Chula is based on my mother, but she’s very different at the same time, from the person she’s based on. That whole world of difference is my creation.


Basically, I think there are more differences in the person that it’s based on and Chula, than there are similarities. Similarities are the harshness of intensity and the voice, and the booze. That’s pretty much it. The rest of it is just me creating this character. So it’s been gratifying for me to take the character back and say this is my creation.


GS: It seems like this is the first play where you’re really reaching out, going beyond your own experience and going to an imaginary place?

KA: That’s what it was. The first play … a lot of that was fictionalized, but it was ‘this happened to me,’ so I’d write about it. But with this one, it was a lot more from my imagination, because I took this very personal situation and disguised it in a way that didn’t really match the original situation. So there was a lot of imagination involved in that as well. In creating Mickey, a completely made up character, that’s what made it a lot harder than the first one, and made me feel like this is my first play in that sense.


GH: You probably had to get the first one out.

KA: I did.


GS: It’s part of the process – you write about your own stuff first and then wash that away and move on to other things.

GH: That gives you the structure of the first play, but you also probably felt obligated to either be true to those situations or disguise them in a way.

KA: Exactly. I felt more freedom to create, while with the other one I felt more obligated to report.


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