Q & A With Gay H. Hammond, Director/Playwright of The Bra & Panty Club

Gay H. Hammond has been the Resident Dramatist for GTA since 2002, and Artistic Director of WonderQuest, our award-winning theatre for young audiences, since 1993. Working in the theatre for 40 years, Gay continues to be a working actor (See Rock City, Look Homeward Angel, The Importance of Being Earnest, Romeo and Juliet) and director (Monstrous Regiment, Philadelphia Story, Sense & Sensibility, The Ugly Duckling, Red) as well as a producing playwright. So far, her 30+ plays are consistently produced by theatres all over the country. Ms. Hammond received her MFA in Playwriting from Spalding University, her MA in Theatre & Speech from the University of Louisville, and her BA in both Theatre and English from Brenau University, where she is currently an Associate Professor of Theatre. Gay has two grown children–both of whom are professional actors–and one terribly funny wire fox terrier, Thistle. See more of her work at newclassicsplays.com.

What influenced or inspired The Bra and Panty Club?

Almost a decade ago, I saw a sign in a local department store which said “Join our Bra and Panty Club now!” and it cracked me up. I began to think of the possibilities of a comedy set in a lingerie department. I originally wrote a sample of such a play when I applied to graduate school in playwriting — I thought they would accept a “contemporary” play more readily than my usual fantasy/classical fare. As I worked on it, I became most interested in the stages of womanhood: maiden/bride, mother and crone. I also, as a college professor, am always interested in how adult lives can drift sideways without intentions. And then . . . sleeping beauty! Those are essentially the ingredients of what became this play.

What are some of the challenges and advantages of directing your own work?

The vast advantage is that I can work through the needs of the script without assuaging the ego of a director. I feel a greater freedom as the director to work on the script in a practical way, finding both the imagery and the performability that is in the script and working to identify and eradicate its weaknesses. The challenges are in not letting my ego as a playwright “protect” the weaknesses of the script from the director (also me). However, after over twenty years of writing and directing my own work, I believe that I manage that balance pretty well now!

What part of the production are you most excited for?

Of the forty scripts I have written, this is the last one to be fully produced, and I am very excited for that reality. I will also feel free to let it go out into the world for other productions, once I feel I have worked it and polished it myself. As always, the greatest excitement of any show is seeing it realized by the actors and the incredible design/production team. It is fantastically satisfying to see what other creative minds bring to a script that was hitherto just mine.

What do you most want audiences to take away from the production?

I hope that some audiences take away a bit of nostalgia for being young and having to make choices. I hope audiences have fun with the unabashed romance of the plot, and I hope that we all remember that making choices is far better than avoiding them.

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