One House Productions: Interview with Actress and Theater Company Owner Deborah Rupy

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One House Productions is a Long Island theater company that was founded by actress Deborah Rupy and her husband, Chris. One House Productions is dedicated to highlighting original plays and has not let the pandemic lockdown get in the way of entertaining audiences.

Deborah Rupy studied performance and technical theatre at Oneonta State University. Her senior year of college was spent interning at The Abbey Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. After becoming the President and Co-Owner of a local community theater on Long Island, Deborah crested One House as a vehicle for the new and original works which she is most drawn to. She selected the name as an ode to her mission: to create an open, accepting and safe place for artists akin to a home.

When the coronavirus shut down stopped live theater in March of 2020, Deborah decided to launch a virtual series entitled “The L.I. Pause Monologues.” The first initiative was so successful that One House subsequently produced “The L.I. Pause Monologues 2.” Most recently, they have launched their first virtual one-act play festival that will include a live-streamed award ceremony. The festival attracted submissions from all over the world and, of those scripts, nine original one-act plays were chosen.

Deborah recently discussed One House Productions and her hopes for its future via an exclusive interview.

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your love for theater and how did you break into the industry?

Deborah Rupy (DR): I have always been interested in live theatre. In Junior High school, I played Peter Pan. The Director bravely used the same musical script that Mary Martin did with no cuts. The five main characters flew with parachute harnesses and invisible wire! Unbelievable! I was hooked. My Mom, however always re-tells the story of how nervous she was about the whole production. She remembers opening day asking me if I needed to review my lines, songs, but when she was seated in the audience, after the first few opening moments, she told herself, this is where my daughter is meant to be! My parents never held me back and taught me anything is possible with hard work and a good heart. I went on to study theatre at Oneonta State and interned at The Abbey Theatre in Dublin. I cannot say that I actually broke into the industry, more like sauntered in. I wrote a short story immediately after graduating college about one of my experiences in Ireland. Many years later a local Long Island Playwright heard the story and wrote a play based on it. I of course was a little too long in the tooth to play myself as a college student, but I did portray the lovely character named Mary. The play, “The Caretaker of Corofin,” was produced at Theatre for The New City in July of 2015 to sold out houses.

MM: As an actress, what sorts of characters do you most enjoy playing?

DR: Every actress that I know enjoys a challenge, but I think it is the definition of challenge that changes for each one of them. Playing someone very different from yourself, in a different situation than yourself, with different views and visions than yourself is very challenging to me. I mostly enjoy having the pleasure of being the first actress to tackle an original role. Piecing the character together from the very beginning, slowly putting the building blocks of that “person” together and then enjoying the audience getting to know the character for the first time. Sheer pleasure.

MM: How did you go about establishing One House Productions and why do you want to focus so much on original plays?

DR: I have been involved with many theatres in many different capacities, from acting, costuming, building maintenance, production, directing and ownership. In each role, I have been the advocate for new and original productions. One House was established to incorporate these new and original works, within those theatre groups as well as outside of them. One main goal was to bring these new and original productions to the New York City area in order to reach a larger audience. Real life story telling is in my blood. I have always been drawn to new and original works. Many theatres produce shows that have been seen and done over and over again. There are so many wonderful playwrights and new stories. I have always wanted to cast the net wider and catch all of these new and exciting plays.

MM: How did the monologue series begin?

DR: When the “pause” occurred, two productions that I was involved in were cancelled. This was happening to all in the theatre community. Suddenly there were so many creative people without an outlet. Many turned to the classics, Shakespeare, Homer, James Joyce and Oscar Wilde. I found myself wondering why originals were being left out. I then reminded myself that I could do something about that. One House had always been right there just waiting for the perfect time to really take off. My first thought was monologues about the pause. We were experiencing a new way of life, there had to be new stories to tell. My husband, Christopher, who has always been a technical advisor for One House, was able to really offer some help with ways to accomplish this. The L.I. Pause Monologues was born. We started out small and tested the waters. Only 12 to 15 pieces, each one 2 to 10 minutes long. It turned into a healing and bonding experience for all involved. Not exactly, but kind of like live theatre. The monologues were so well received, we decided to produce The L.I. Pause Monologues 2. Happily, they were also a hit.

MM: What inspired you to launch a virtual one-act play festival?

DR: William Meurer, one of the writers whose pieces were selected for the Monologues series, approached Christopher and I about the possibility of a play festival. After one brainstorming Zoom meeting, the bones of the festival were in place, with William acting as our Festival Coordinator. The next step was adding the muscle.

MM: How many plays are airing and how did you select them?

DR: We have taken into account the attention span of an audience that is accustomed to live theater and decided three 10 minute plays each night would be perfect. We will be having three nights of three pre-taped plays airing on our YouTube channel. So, a total of 9 plays were chosen. We created a google document for play submissions in three categories. Comedy, Drama and Eclectic, with the hopes of receiving three submissions in each category. We actually entered a maximum capacity of 75 submissions, with any over 75 considered for future projects. You know that first night I went to bed with my fingers crossed that we would receive nine plays. We received almost 80 submissions from playwrights all over the world! All three of us read each and every play. We had previously discussed a rating and criteria process. Many of the submissions were truly wonderful and some of the cuts were difficult, but we are confident that we have assembled an amazing group of plays as well as directors and actors.

MM: What inspired you to include an awards ceremony? What categories are there and what constitutes the prizes for winners?

DR: At that first Zoom brainstorm meeting, William suggested a submission fee of $10 per play. Christopher and I were on board as long as all of the submission monies were put towards prizes. So, if we received our maximum capacity of 75 plays, that meant $750.00. Our goal was to be able to offer the following prizes:

Best Comedy

Best Drama

Best Eclectic

Best Director

Best Actor

Each winner receiving $150.00. The prize aspect also allows others in the theatre community to participate in the festival. The audience will choose each winner. We will then be hosting a live awards ceremony on the following Sunday, announcing all of the winners.

MM: Of all the original work you’ve produced so far, which have been the most memorable and why?

DR: Each and every production holds a special place in my heart. However, I feel the most recent productions taking place during this difficult time will always be the most memorable. We started the monologues as a vehicle to help creative individuals start to heal and continue to create. We are trying to look at performance art in a new way for the current time. There are no limits. It’s a new world, there are new stories to be told and new ways in which to tell them.

MM: Might you launch another awarded one act play festival in the near future?

DR: We are very pleased so far and cannot wait to air this festival. Without a doubt, there will be a second One House, One Heart 10 Minute Play Festival in the future. We are living in a time of constant change and that may dictate the timing of our next festival. We will be updating our Facebook page and website constantly.

MM: Post pandemic, might you host some live events and festivals?

DR: The virtual productions currently being produced by One House are a sign of the times. One day soon, we hope to bring all of the really wonderful stories we have had the pleasure to initiate in others to a live stage with a live audience! We have kept each submitted play on file to review in the future.

MM: Can you tell us about some of the future projects are on the horizon for you and/or One House Productions?

DR: Due to the success of the Monologues, One House has been approached to handle some new and exciting projects. Our very next project involves a new and unique way of publicizing and launching other creative art forms, like fiction. Details soon on our website!

MM: What are your ultimate goals concerning the evolution of One House Productions?

DR: Per our mission statement our ultimate goal has always been to provide a place where gifted artists can develop, hone and share their crafts within and open and accepting creative community. The Pause Monologues and the Play Festival projects brought out creativity in many first-time writers, including my husband, Christopher. The projects also paired creative individuals whom may never have worked together under previous theatrical circumstances. One House has shown many in the theatre community world that we are much bigger, stronger, resilient and connected than we even knew. When many minds work together towards the same goal, wonderful things happen. Unity, One House.

MM: Is there anything else that you would like to mention or discuss?

DR: We welcome you to watch the performances on our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCI5kZQ6MUtKI0Y9pxYs-IKA) on the following days:

10/09/2020

One House, One Heart 10 Minute Play Festival

A Night Of Comedies

7:00 pm

10/10/2020

One House, One Heart 10 Minute Play Festival

A Night Of Drama

7:00 pm

10/11/2020

One House, One Heart 10 Minute Play Festival

A Night Of Eclectic Pieces

7:00 pm

10/18/2020

One House, One Heart 10 Minute Play Festival

Special live awards night complete with prizes

7:00 pm

Voting will be available October 12th, 2020.

~SPECIAL THANKS~

One House truly is a community.

I would like to thank some individuals along the way who share my love for original works:

Christopher Rupy – There are no words to describe your dedication to One House or my love for you.

William Meurer – A Perfect Fit. You had me at, “I will send the email to read as something I would like to receive myself.”

Anthony DiFranco – Your never-ending faith and confidence in me is so appreciated. I admire your original plays, your documentaries, your novels and most importantly, your work ethic.

Daniel Higgins – We still have the cork from the bottle of champagne opened at the first official One House meeting.

Claude Solnik – Casting me as Julie in Lady from Limerick opened up a whole new world for me.

Michele Lang – When we are together, creativity exudes!

Links

Our Website:

www.onehouseproductions.com

Our Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/onehouseproductions1

Our Monologues:

Long Island Pause Monologues

Long Island Pause Monologues 2