Playwright Allison Gregory
Allison Gregory is no stranger to writing plays for young audiences. In fact, South Coast Repertory has produced two other Theatre for Young Audiences adaptations by Gregory— Junie B. in Jingle Bells Batman Smells! (2011) and Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook (2018). In the following interview, Gregory chats with Associate Artistic Director and Production Dramaturg John Glore about inspiration and her writing process.
John Glore: Why did you decide to create a stage version of Red Riding Hood?
Allison Gregory: I’m always looking at old stories and how they relate to today’s questions and challenges; how they fit into our lives—or how our lives affect those stories. When Seattle Children’s Theatre came forward with a commission, it felt like the exact right moment to explore Red Riding Hood and the beliefs and biases the fairytale perpetuates.
JG: The play sometimes has the feel of a Looney Tunes cartoon. Were those cartoons in your mind as you wrote? Did anything else inspire your approach?
AG: Ha, no—at least not consciously. That’s just the way I think. I imagine the room inside my brain is made of rubber and feathers—it’s an endless loop of pratfalls. Physical humor and wordplay are my favorite ways to communicate. Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Buster Keaton, Tim Conway, Dick Van Dyke, Molly Shannon, Kristen Wiig—they’re all big influences in my book.
JG: How long did it take you to write Red Riding Hood? What was the hardest part?
AG: I was offered a great opportunity by The New Harmony Project to attend a writer’s retreat; the timing was perfect to begin outlining an idea I had for the play. After 10 days in a very tiny town in south-eastern Indiana in the dead of winter, I had a full first draft. There truly was nothing else to do but write.
JG: How and when did you get involved in doing theatre?
AG: I took dance lessons with my sisters when I was a kid, then got bored and stopped. When I reached high school, I got involved in the dance club, and kept dancing in college—which lead to roles in a couple of plays. From a dancer I became an actor and, much later, a writer. It seems like now people have a more deliberate plan of action. I never had a concrete plan. I had some talent and some luck; you really need both, but a plan is good, too.
JG: When you were a kid, did you write stories and plays?
AG: When I was a kid I played horses, dress-up, ‘hospital’ and kickball. Nothing I did then ever made me imagine I was going to do theatre, much less become a playwright. I took a very circuitous route, then landed in just the right spot—thankfully.
Learn more about our digital production of Red Riding Hood and buy tickets.