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When Stars Align at the Odyssey – Interview with Playwright Carole Eglash- Kosoff

By Ester Benjamin Shifren

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Keeping the Conversation Going with Carol Eglash-Kosoff 


Where do we go from here? It depends on how well we are at keeping the conversation going. Awkward, sometimes painful, discussions on race relations never get easier to have but they almost always result in a better understanding of where we need to end up on the subject, and maybe even how to get there. The best way forward is by learning from our mistakes.

"Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it," warned George Santayana, over a century ago. “When Stars Align” is a world premiere guest production opening at the Odyssey Theatre on September 5th, and it gives us that history by way of a poignant love story, which includes music and dance. From an acclaimed writer, often heralded for capturing the essence of racial equality issues, “When Stars Align” is the first play to be adapted from Carole Eglash-Kosoff’s two novels (“Winds of Change”), which take place against the backdrop of our Civil War and the beginning of our nations fight for equal rights.



Few people realize that during the first post-Civil War decade, Union troops had been stationed throughout the Confederacy to protect against discrimination, and racial equality was beginning to take hold. That progress was destroyed in 1876 when all of the Union troops were removed after the Tilden-Hayes compromise and the unique “decade of summer” was followed by a “century of winter.” It would be almost 100 years, during the 1960's, before civil rights efforts would began to yield results.

A chat with writer Carole Eglash-Kosoff brings a much better understanding of why this work was created and how it directly affects our lives. Capturing the foibles and failures of humanity might just be one of the best ways to improve it.

Ester Benjamin Shifren: Why is it important to tell this story?

Carole: It is such a vital part of our history and essential for us to understand it so that we can keep moving forward, not backwards on issues of equality and oppression. I have traveled around the world, and worked in the most deprived black townships of South Africa. Southern California, particularly Los Angeles, seems somewhat color blind compared to many other cities around America, and most other countries. Los Angeles feels like the perfect place to produce this work.

Ester Benjamin Shifren: This is the second time in less than two years that your work is being produced. What's the secret to getting the story adapted for stage and for successful development?



Carole:  Insanity helps! After the first venture, “The Human Spirit,” was launched and had a successful run, I guess that I began to miss those long hours and the creative process of watching it all come together. This time, I found a uniquely talented Director (John Henry Davis) who specializes in new plays. He loved the story and was eager to share the journey with me.

Ester Benjamin Shifren: Will you describe your style of writing, historical fiction, and if you think it's important to work on developing a reputation for being a certain type of writer?

Carole: I didn't even realize that I had been pegged for being a certain type of writer. I have a love of history and a rabid distaste for the stupidity of racism. That ignorance branded South Africa for a half-century and the Southern United States for nearly 200 years. I write what I am most passionate about. I have to do that.

Ester Benjamin Shifren: Can you help to distinguish the process between being a novelist and a playwright? What are your most rewarding parts and your least favorite parts of each process?

Carole: I quickly discovered that these are entirely different genres. As a novelist I have the freedom to let my digital pen soar with descriptions, develop characters, create intrigue. I guess that I find that freedom to be rewarding, because I enjoy it immensely. But, as a playwright I need to rely on actors to do more of that soaring part, with nuances that they are able to interpret from the words. Learning to write for others was a very distinct adjustment, using much less words and trusting that they will be interpreted in a way that they were intended to be. I guess my favorite part about that is when it actually works…and this cast does that.



Ester Benjamin Shifren: As the opportunities arise for developing these stories into films, does it become even more challenging to write the script.

Carole: No, I don't think so. We actually have a film script for “When Stars Align” but it is a different genre with a camera now allowing support to both the actors and the written word.

Ester Benjamin Shifren: Do you work on more than one project at a time? What's up for the next two years?

Carole: I find that same sort of artistic insanity, that I mentioned earlier, keeps me into multiple projects. I am currently working on a stage version of my novel, “Sex, Drugs, & Fashion” as well as a musically historical play.

Ester Benjamin Shifren: How do you think a writer’s age matters, and do you think it reflects in their work?

Carole: I'm probably too old to be asked that question. I just figured the older you get, the less time that's left so you need to run faster. Go for it, at any age!                                                                                                            

WHEN STARS ALIGN opens on Saturday, September 5th and runs through October 4, 2015. Performances are at 8pm Fridays and Saturdays, 2pm on Sundays with two Thursday performances at 8pm on Sept 24th and Oct 1st. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Tickets are $30 ($25 for Students and Seniors). Reservations: (323) 960-7738 or purchase them here

The cast includes Nick Ballard, Benai Boyd, Nic Few, Haley McHugh, Camron Jones, Eric Charles Jorgenson, Kaitlin Huwe, Brad C. Light, Allison Reeves, Veryle Rupp, Jacques C. Smith, Tamiyka White, and Jason Woods




Published on Sep 04, 2015

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