The Seven Deadly Plays
The Seven Deadly Plays is an ambitious series of new work written by playwright Leslye Headland and produced by the Los Angeles-based IAMA Theatre Company. The plays strive to tell the story of how youth gives way to vice, how vice leads to pain and how pain pushes us into adulthood. The series has 3 major criteria: to let a deadly sin serve as the root of the characters’ struggles, to focus primarily on characters under 30 and to have a run time of 90 minutes or less. The goal of the series is to create work that inspires younger audiences to participate in a theater community and to shed light on how ancient issues are still present in an ultra-modern, media-saturated and over-educated generation.
The series began with Cinephilia in 2007. The play examines two seemingly benign habits of twenty-somethings: casual sex and film obsession. Over one post-coital evening in Brooklyn, two movie-quoting “friends with benefits” discover that loving movies is easy but loving people is hard. What follows is a witty but bittersweet debate for those who define themselves by their lust for both the carnal and the celluloid.
In 2008, IAMA produced the next three plays in the series. First was Bachelorette. A dramedy about the startling trend of beautiful, privileged women engaging in gluttonous substance abuse. In a luxurious Manhattan hotel suite, three single girls organize a drug-fueled bachelorette party for their less popular friend the night before her wedding. When things don’t go as planned, they recklessly cross the line between fun and addiction.
Assistance tracks how the office grind can squash youthful ambition. Lower level employees at a company in Tribeca take on the daunting job of assisting a wealthy but impossibly demanding boss. They resort to rivalry, jealousy, fear, culminating with a literal exhausting dance of politics and greed. What starts as a promising career opportunity becomes a prison they can neither endure nor find the courage to escape.
Surfer Girl is a one-woman monologue that moves the location of the series from the East Coast to the West. An unnamed prodigal couch-surfer recounts her misadventures surviving off the hospitality of others. Reliving her years of slothfulness, she confesses the tragic results of infiltrating other people’s lives rather than living her own.
The series returned in 2009 with Reverb. A musician and his muse girlfriend on the outside seem like an average Echo Park-dwelling couple. Behind closed doors, they keep their relationship alive with violence and painful explosions of abuse. Their love story explores how wrath is as fluid and endless as a sound. It echoes and continues… even from one generation to the next.