Beauty News NYC reached out to playwright and performer Amy Crossman to learn about her background, her new play, “The Great Divide,” and more!
I saw this show with my mom on October 6th, and loved it! For those who don’t know, could you share the inspiration behind “The Great Divide,” and explain what the show is about?
The show was borne out of an experience of grief that I had several years ago. At that time, I felt like my experience of grief was far messier and more complicated and dare I say ugly than was culturally or socially acceptable, and I felt really isolated and alone. There were a lot of “shoulds” that were floating through the air back then for me, and I wanted to write a play that gave voice to the non-linear and messy experience I was having. The show’s about a young woman navigating all that, and also like, navigating love. There’s a lot of love in this play. Or a lot of searching for it, at least.
The play promises to blend humor with love, loss, and healing themes. How does the protagonist’s inner conflict unfold with wit and charm while addressing these profound themes?
I come from a strong background in clown training, and central to that work is the relationship with the audience. The character wants so desperately to connect with others, and so her sense of humor and what she shares with us is driven by that desire. Sometimes she’s intentional in the funny things she says to us, and sometimes it just slips out – my hope is that there’s a balance of when the audience laughs with her and lovingly laughs at her, but regardless I think humor is an important part of love, loss and healing. It’s all too much – all of that is all too much – if we can’t laugh at it.
“The Great Divide” celebrates the triumph of the human spirit in challenging circumstances. How do you think the story’s emphasis on self-discovery and overcoming challenges resonates with audiences?
I think everyone has probably had an experience with a loss or a challenge at some point in their lives – even if it isn’t the loss that is specifically dealt with in this play. Loss can either open us up, or close us off, and that’s a choice that this character really has to sit with – she’s either going to get stuck in the same old loop, or she’s going to allow the experience to transform her. We’re taught in theatre school that through the specific, we can find the universal, and I think that dynamic is a pretty universal one.
The fusion of humor and poignant themes often leads to captivating storytelling. Can you share some insights into how “The Great Divide” strikes this balance, and perhaps highlight a moment that embodies this unique blend?
I’ve always found humor to be a really useful tool as a writer and performer – it allows the audience to lean in, feel taken care of, and really listen to the deeper truths as they are emerged in the storytelling. So that was pretty intentional in the crafting of the play, and while I don’t want to give away any spoilers, I’ll say that the humor and the poignancy come together frequently around a toilet. There is just something endlessly hilarious to me about the privacy of a bathroom.
As the playwright and performer of “The Great Divide,” how has your collaboration with director Scott Ebersold influenced the play’s narrative?
This is my second time working with Scott – we worked together on Boomerang Theatre’s “Comedy of Errors” back in 2021, and it was clear to me from the jump that we spoke the same theatrical language. The other day in rehearsal, Scott literally said “I’m going to read Amy’s mind, I think she wants to do xyz,” and indeed, I did want to do xyz! So it’s been great to collaborate with someone who is cut from the same creative cloth. That being said, Scott is really great at advocating for the play and what the play needs, which has been great because that’s difficult for me to see when I’m inside it as an actor. The majority of the rewriting had been done prior to rehearsals, but Scott was always kind, compassionate, and honest about moments in the text that he was unclear of or thought needed more (or less, as it often is). It’s easier to let go of things as a writer when you’re trusting your director, and that’s exactly what this has been for me.
What do you hope audiences take away from this production?
My hope is that audiences will take heart and courage from watching a character wrestle with the not knowing and the uncertainty and the discomfort and pain that comes from all that – but most of all, I hope that they have fun. And that they laugh. There’s a lot of resilience and healing to be found in the pursuit of that, and I think we collectively undervalue that a lot. I know I do. But this life is too hard and too painful and too short to not have some fucking fun!
Buy tickets to “The Great Divide” HERE.
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