THE FOSSIL RECORD: An Interview with Playwright and Director Lisa Hall

Updated: Feb 7

Hello Dear Reader!


Excitement is buzzing here at AOTC as we grow closer and closer to opening night for The Fossil Record! Lisa Hall, playwright and director for Fossil Record, shared a few of her thoughts and experiences while working on this piece. You can read her interview below.


First, a brief synopsis of The Fossil Record:


After a long absence, Laurie returns home to take care of her ailing mother, Margaret. The tenuous balance is shattered when Laurie makes a grisly discovery in the home: the hidden, long-dead remains of three infants. Laurie must decide when (or whether) she should call the police or confront her mother, and how a history of substance abuse and abandonment might explain the horrifying discovery. In a moment of reckoning Margaret claims the infants were stillborn, and they must tell the authorities. In the end, the truth of the infants is revealed to those who have remained through the destruction.


Q: Hello there! Tell us a little about yourself!


A: My name is Lisa Hall (she/her) and I am a professor/writer/director, currently an Associate Professor of Theatre at UVU and freelance director and writer. I have a BA in Drama Performance from San Francisco State University, an MA in Creative Writing/Playwriting from Boston University, and a PhD in Theatre History and Criticism from the University of Colorado, Boulder.


Q: What projects are you currently working on?


A: In terms of directing, just Fossil Record. I have a new musical in development along with the incomparable composer Alec Powell, as well as a book about immersive theatre set to publish late in 2022.


Q: What kinds of stories are you drawn to?


A: I think the common denominator is that I am drawn to stories of dynamic humans facing complex conflicts.


Q: What playwrights (and/or other theatre practitioners) have inspired you? What influence have they had on your work?


A: So, so many. I watch the work of my local colleagues and am a bit of a magpie; I collect inspiration from all of them and from so many professional artists. I read plays all the time and find little bits of interest through all of them.


Q: What inspired The Fossil Record?


A: This play has a pretty clear origin story. I read a news article about a woman in England named Bernadette Quirk. I was fascinated by her story and wrote the play loosely based on this idea: what would the family do when finding out devastating information/ How would they navigate something so complex?


Q: How did The Fossil Record come to be?


A: I wrote this play several years ago, and the idea had germinated for quite some time before that. I developed the characters first through using the 8-sequence story structure, then by doing readings and taking the feedback of the actors and audience.


Q: What were some key challenges you faced when writing The Fossil Record? What was a surprising discovery?


A: I think the key challenge for any writer on any project is have the persistence to keep writing despite having doubts, or not loving everything on the page. This play surprised me a number of times in where the characters went or who they specifically are. That has become even more clear in the rehearsal room. I feel like I get to know that characters more every time we rehearse.


Q: What's it like directing your own play?


A: If the play had been any less developed I don't think I would have been able to direct it. Because it had gone through several readings, I was able to approach it more as a director (although I could change small issues when we came across them).


Q: How have you approached Fossil Record as a director vs. a playwright?


A: Truly I have had to set aside my thoughts as a writer and approach the scripts as I would a director of any other piece. the only difference, as I mentioned, is my ability to change small dialogue issues here and there!


Q: Did your vision for The Fossil Record remain the same from page to stage? Evolve? Change?


A: My vision has evolved constantly, which I think is necessary once you involve more than just the writer and the page. I continue to be inspired by the performers and the creative team, and I feel the play has become much more specific and moving.


Q: Ultimately, what do you hope audiences will take away from The Fossil Record?


A: I hope they feel a sense of compassion for the characters, and I hope they are able to go on the journey with the characters as they move through grief, humor, and absolution.


CONTENT WARNING: “The Fossil Record” contains themes and depictions that some viewers may find distressing. Visit our ticketing page to see full disclosures.


FOSSIL RECORD will be a limited streamed production. Performances are Feb 4th through Feb 27th (four weekends) with streaming being available Thursdays-Sundays. All performance links are accessible from 6pm - Midnight for each performance. You can find tickets here.


Chelsea Hickman

Literary Manager

An Other Theatre Company


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