In preparation for the world premiere event of The English Bride, New Jersey playwright Lucile Lichtblau was kind enough to answer a few questions about her creative process, the real life events that inspired the story and deciphering the hype behind the headlines.
Lichtblau’s rapid-fire script dares to unveil the love story between Eileen Finney (Corinna Burns) and Ali Said (J Paul Nicholas), painting an intimate portrait of passion, betrayal and international espionage. Israeli Mossad agent Dov (Damon Bonetti) probes into the motivations of deceitful and blinding love. “Truth mixed in with lies, love with hate. Fear and shame often conquer our noblest ideals.”
Max Vasapoli: Lucile, your work has been showcased around the country. Do you have any connections to Philadelphia?
Lucile Lichtblau: I am a resident of nearby New Jersey and an admirer of the rich and varied theater scene in Philadelphia.
MV:There is quite a varied scene here. What do you think Exile audiences will gain from this production?
LL: I hope they will see how complex and conflicted our relationships can be.
MV: The play moves rapidly and with great attention to detail. What was your creative process like for this piece?
LL: It took a couple of years to write. I began the play about two and a half years ago and put it down for about six months. When I came back to it, I realized that I had far too much exposition in the beginning of the play. The playwriting process really began when I cut out all the exposition and just began the play without any explanation of who the characters were, where the play was taking place and what had just happened before the play begins. I took the first few scenes to my play development group and was very encouraged by their response. They urged me to keep the play focused on only three characters and to continue to tighten the play so that there was nothing extraneous in the plot, the characters or the language.
MV: You paint a very stirring and intimate idea of the dynamic relationships in the play. What themes or topics draw you to this piece in particular?
LL: The play was inspired by an actual event that occurred about 27 years ago in which a Jordanian man placed a bomb in the suit case of his pregnant Irish fiancée before she boarded an El Al flight to Israel. I was drawn to this story because of the inherent drama of the situation and the very human plight of a woman in love who was her lover's intended victim. Why would someone want to kill a person with whom he had been intimate? What is the story behind the headlines? What really might have happened? When everything that was said and done between them is made known to us, can we answer those questions?
MV: Right, daring to unveil the intricacies and motives that would normally go unseen. What are you most excited for in tackling this piece?
LL: I wanted to see if I could make sense out of a situation that, at first, seemed incomprehensible to me. I also wanted to depict the character of the Arab man as a human being, not as a villain. I hope I have done both.
MV: What are some of your favorite quotes or lines from the piece?
LL: "Disappointment is a fact of life." I also like the last three lines of the play. "There could have been. There often is. But, in this case, there wasn't.” Here, Dov is referring to a heroic action supposedly taken by Ali. Those lines to me are so sad and so true. People often want to do what is right but many times, when what is right is also difficult or painful, they often fail to do it.
MV: The moral dilemma of right versus wrong is certainly on display here. Why else should people come see this show?
LL: To be puzzled, to be moved, to be challenged. To have a great time.
MV: What’s the best part of your job?
LL: When the hard work of writing a difficult scene or a difficult play is done, I love to see it performed. It's a thrill and it makes me cry, every time.
Lucile is truly a playwright inspired by the world around her who constructs heightened drama to amplify the complexities of real life.
Lucile will be participating in several post show discussion events during the run of the production, so don’t miss out on your chance to be part of the world premiere event that brings you the dependably unpredictable once again. Make sure to reserve your seats with our Box Office (215) 218-4022 or online at theatreexile.org.