David: Lenore, your new off-Broadway show “The Exes” officially opens on Thursday August 15th at Theatre Row, with previews starting August 7th. That’s getting close! What are your thoughts and feelings as the opening approaches?
Lenore: I’m thrilled. For the first time in my creative life, I’m truly enjoying this experience, from start to finish. Even with all the bumps that we’ve encountered along the way. When I was a book author and a journalist, I got very used to being alone. Ultimately, both are solitary crafts. Yes, there is an editor involved, but the writing happens between you and the page. And unless you happen to be standing next to the person reading your work, you rarely see the effect it has on them. With playwriting, it’s completely different. There’s another dimension added. It’s called the audience. And you get to bear witness to the effect your work has on others. I love that. And I’ve loved working with a highly competent group of professionals who have been able to do everything I can’t to make this happen.
David: You’ve described “The Exes” as a “bromantic” comedy. Without giving too much away, who are the “bros” involved in his close friendship? What do they have in common?
Lenore: Richard and Dick became best friends in the most unlikely way – they were both married to the same woman. Dick was Mavis’ first husband. Richard married Mavis after that. She left both, so both had their hearts broken. In terms of their personalities, they truly complement each other. Richard is a very wealthy bombast with an enormous ego. Dick is a jokester with a dry wit, who is highly protective of Richard, and in return, enjoys a lifestyle he might not otherwise be able to afford. While the play uses the framing of this friendship, it’s really about Richard and his morphosis from cold hearted businessman to someone with possibilities. I call it the reluctant hero’s journey.
David: Briefly, what’s the production history for “The Exes.” Is this the play’s first full production?
Lenore: The play was developed. This is the play’s first Off Broadway run. While I started writing the play back in the fall of 2014, I was working on “Bluff,” my first play at the time. After a short run of that play, I began to seriously develop The Exes in the Write Now Workshop run by Emma Goldman Sherman in spring of 2017. It has had multiple staged readings and at least thirty rewrites to get it to this stage. And that’s another journey in and of itself.
David: Earlier, you shared a brief synopsis of the play. What would you say were the important themes of “The Exes” or is it just pure fun?
Lenore: Ultimately, my goal was to create something smartly written in the tradition of and homage to both Noel Coward and Neil Simon. So, it’s not “hardy har har,” slap your knee, “Oh look? They fell off the stage” kind of funny. It’s a play with structure, clear storylines, a discernible arc that’s peppered with sophisticated humor, some slapstick, and lots of sarcasm. The theme, which I believe is most timely, is whether a hardened narcissist ultimately can change and become a better human being. We need hope. And this play is all about hope.
David: You are an accomplished author. What are some of your earlier works? Is this your first play/comedy?
Lenore: As a journalist, I wrote a humor column for years. The collections – Burnt Toast and Elbow Grease – are available on Amazon, along with my other books. I am a very funny person and it’s a natural talent for me to know how to write and land a joke. Before turning my talents to writing for the stage, I wrote three bestsellers: “Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter,” a biography of Ida Lewis America’s most celebrated lighthouse keeper that is being made into a movie as we speak; “Bluff,” which I adapted for the stage in 2016 and ran at Hudson Guild and Third Willow, a coming of age novel that won several awards, and am currently looking to adapt for television.
David: What’s next? What are you working on currently?
Lenore: I’m not done with “The Exes.” I have high hopes for publication and licensing of The Exes, as well as touring. It’s the perfect play to put up in a community theatre, since most of the actors are older, and as you know, community theatre is fueled by retirees who love to act. I’d like to write another comedy based on my own background--being raised as one of seven children in a large family of eclectic, dramatic personalities. (Read: crazy people.)
David: Anything else about “The Exes” you’d like to share?
Lenore: Come see the show!
David: Any questions you have always wanted to be asked, but never were asked?
Lenore: Do you want that million dollars in a check or small bills? How does it feel to win so many Tony Awards? Do you credit your genius to your mother or father? What’s the fastest land animal?
David: You do have a wonderful sense of humor! Thank you for sharing about “The Exes.” All the best on the opening and the run of your new off-Broadway play. We’ll be there!
ABOUT LENORE SKOMAL
Lenore is an award-winning writer with three decades of professional experience, ranging from broadcast to print. The author of 17 books, including three multiple award winning bestsellers, she's also the founder of Lenore M Skomal Productions, LLC, which produces THE EXES and New York City's Broadway Bound Theatre Festival. A proud member of the Dramatists Guild, Commercial Theatre Institute, Theater Resources Unlimited, Off Broadway Alliance, Theater Communications Group, the National Newspaper Columnists Association, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), Lenore is dedicated to empowering other artists. www.lenoreskomal.org