Feature Q & A – Karla Jennings Explores Loss in Ravens & Seagulls

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Essential Theatre

Samuel Traquina, Gina Rickicki, Teresa DeBerry, Jill Perry, Suzanne Roush, Patricia French, Sarah Wallis. Photo by Stungun

At some point we all have to face the loss of a loved one. That experience is explored in Karla Jennings’ play Ravens & Seagulls, now onstage at Essential Theatre. In this Q & A, Jennings discusses the play, its lessons and more.

How would you describe the play?
I would describe it as a family love story. It explores the sisters’ relationship, how each one deals with the loss, and how it affects their lives as they try to rebuild their family.

How would you describe the family?
I think they are very loving people. It doesn’t mean that they will always get along. Adults behave like children trying to act like adults during a loss. The experience plunges you into an extremely emotional, hot-house atmosphere.

Did real-life events inspire the story?
The play is inspired by my sister’s death. She died of breast cancer at 47. When that happened, it was so surrealistic. It is like you enter another country in that situation. I often write from personal experience, but this is the most personal.

Did the play change much during the rehearsal process?
During rehearsal you can really see what needs to be improved. There was a fundamental overhaul of the whole play. I cut out two or three things – several pages of dialogue are gone. One character greatly evolved. Because of that process, it is a much stronger play.

What do you hope audiences take away from the show? 
I hope audiences gain a deep appreciation of how gorgeous life is. Experiences like this give you wisdom. They help you see that what matters to us in the world isn’t necessarily what matters. There are things that matter a lot more than what we are used to, and that can really affect how you see the world the rest of your life and change the course of how you deal with it.

What does Essential Theatre mean to you?
Essential Theatre has a focus on Georgia playwrights, and it gives Georgia its voice. A lot of these stories may not be heard otherwise. I deeply appreciate the opportunity.

Ravens & Seagulls plays through August 17, 2014 at Essential Theatre. For tickets and more information, please visit the theater’s website.