Interview with Shellen Lubin


Shellen Lubin discusses her new play AFTER THE THIN MAN. This is the second in a series of four posts featuring the playwrights of the Bennington 365 Women a Year Festival.

Interviewer: Natalie Osborne

Q: How did you hear about 365 Women a Year? 

A: On facebook — not even sure whether it was a post in the Playwriting group there — or just noticing one of Jessica’s posts — but I immediately became involved.

Q: Why did you choose Stella Adler and Sylvia Gassell as your historic women? What drew you to them? 

A: I studied with Stella Adler when I was younger, and she was in her 70s. Sylvia Gassell was in a play of mine when she was in her late 60s. Sylvia told me about Stella coming back from Hollywood and telling her not to go out there as a “character actress” because there are no parts for them. It’s something that has stayed with me all these years. I decided to imagine the moment when Stella gave up on acting as a profession and decided to teach, and that decision became the center of this play. (Also the fact that she was right, because, as brilliant as Sylvia was, how much did she really get to work in New York?)

Q: Can you walk me through the process of adapting a persons life for the stage? What were some of the challenges? What parts really clicked together? 

A: I read and read until something about their path excited me, sparked me, and then focused my research on that aspect, fleshing out “information” where I needed it. The biggest challenges are 1) knowing that truth is more important than life, and so you have to write what makes the play work, not worry about what actually “happened”; 2) knowing that whatever you write about them, there is so much more, and the more ground you try to cover the less depth the piece will have.

The clicks were mostly found in the writing itself, the discoveries that come up when you create characters in your mind and set up the scene and discover where it goes. Some of the greatest clicks were: when I discovered why Stella became a teacher, something that she never discussed publicly and I’ve never heard anyone say about her, but I’m sure is true; when I discovered why she set up her classroom the way she did, not just to aggrandize herself.

Q: What are you most excited about for the reading on the 27th? What are you most nervous about?

A: I am excited about seeing where the director and actors take these women–these characters–having nothing but the words I have written in front of them to start from on their expedition. That has only happened a few times in my life (where I got to see the production but was not a part of the process), and it is always somewhat breathtaking.

Nervous? Hmmm … I guess only that maybe I didn’t write what I thought I did, and it doesn’t get where I wanted it to … yet … because there are always re-writes.

Q: Are there any playwrights that inspired you while you were working on this piece, or who inspire you in general? 

A: Lanford Wilson. Secrets. Discoveries. August Wilson. Athol Fugard. And Shakespeare. Keeping things active.

Q: What has been your favorite aspect of working with 365 Women a Year? 

A: I have only once before written a biographical piece, and working on these two pieces has really helped me with that one (still in the middle of re-writes). I have also only written a few short plays. Most of my work has been full-length. It has been very exciting to just pick women I want to write about and then read all about them, become absorbed in their lives, and discover what it is I want to say, the angle I want to come from, how I want to say it.

Q: Do you have any advice for the playwrights joining 365 Women a Year in 2015? 

A: Don’t think you have to decide what you want to write about the person first. Go deep into them and find where they touch you deepest.

And don’t try to cover too much ground. The illumination of one moment or a sequence of a few moments is actually much more interesting than a bio-pic (as it were) of their lives. It’s not a history lesson. It’s a play.

Shellen Lubin is a playwright, songwriter, and director, most recently writing music & lyrics for Susan Merson’s BETWEEN PRETTY PLACES and THE QUALITY OF RESPECT, her take on Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. Other produced plays include: IMPERFECT FLOWERS, WAITING, COFFEE ONCE A YEAR, ELEVATOR INVENTIONS. Musicals include: MOLLY’S DAUGHTERS, MY BRAVE FACE, and DEAR ALEX, DEAR HARRIET. She is currently working on the musical WHAT ZEESIE SAW ON DELANCEY STREET (with Elsa Rael and Matthew Gandolfo) and THE SARAH PROJECT. Co-President – Women in the Arts & Media Coalition; Co-Secretary – League of Professional Theatre Women; DG, BMI, SDC, AEA  @shlubin @MonMornQuote. You can see her play AFTER THE THIN MAN at the Bennington College Student Center on March 27th, at 7:40pm. Or watch the online stream on HowlRound TV

The Object Plays

The annual Bennington tradition continues. Four writers spent the winter writing original ten minute plays, and now their fellow students have only 12 hours to direct, design, and perform them!

This years theme is Closet plays, featuring new works by Audre Bennett, Will Larson, Michael Ash, and yours truly!

Sunday March 9th at 8:00pm in the Deane Carriage Barn

If you’re looking for some fun theatre in Southern Vermont this weekend, look no further!


NOplays is pleased to announce that we will be organizing our first production in collaboration with 365 Women a Year!

The event will take place on March 27th at 7:40pm in the Bennington College Student Center. The evening will feature staged-readings of five original one acts written by Bennington College students and alumni. The evening will also be live-streamed on HowlRound and Nitenews, as part of the 365 Women a Year 24 Hour Broadcast.

We are very pleased to announce the plays that have been selected for the event.


EN EL MEDIO by Maia Villa

FEELIN’ LONELY by Catherine Weingarten

AFTER THE THIN MAN by Shellen Lubin

WHITE COTTON by Shellen Lubin

For more information on the readings, please email For more information about 365 Women a Year, please visit the website.

Stay tuned for more information on the playwrights and the historical women featured in their plays, and for the link to the live-stream.

365 Women a Year Live Stream

In celebration of World Play Day, 365 Women a Year will be live-streaming their plays on Friday, March 27th, 2015! From New York City, to Barcelona, Spain, to Bennington, Vermont, its sure to be an amazing day full of epic theatre and fantastic females!

Including an original new play by yours truly!

Stay tuned for more info on the live-streaming and on 365 Woman a Year readings in your area

(UN) Governed Spaces


(UN) Governed Spaces in a new exhibit at Usdan Gallery that combines art and anthropology to examine the Bagram Military Airbase in Afghanistan. It explores the conflicting narratives surrounding the base while asking viewers to question their pre-conceived ideas of the country. It invites the viewer to attempt to discover the “truth” for themselves, if such a “truth” even exists. Check out the online version of the exhibit to see the art, including some original work by Brianna Morel and your’s truly!

The Gallery is open every weekday from 2-5

Dream On!

HowlRound is doing a series of articles on Belarusian Dream! This is the project I took part in last term. We performed, designed, and directed a number of the plays that are talked about here, including Article 1-911Under ProtestOz Revisited, and Draniki. Check it out!


Seven Ravens Pics!

Better late then never! Here are the pictures from the latest reading of the Seven Ravens at Bennington College!

Thank you to my wonderful cast! Hannah Rose, Marshall McGraw, Lecil James, Georgianna Richer, Emma Welch, Maia Villa, Tori Nation, Molly Forgaard, Jessie Berliner, Emma Plotkin, and Belle Clendenen

DSCN0551 DSCN0550 DSCN0549 DSCN0548 DSCN0547 DSCN0546 DSCN0545 DSCN0544