Alena Smith

Written by Mark Peikert on . Posted in Posts, Summer Guide.

Now in its sixth year, Summer Play Fest or SPF (get it?) has partnered with the Public Theater to give you action-packed, must-see theater from aspiring playwrights to while away the steamy summer evenings. At $10 a ticket, it’s certainly cheaper than air conditioning. This year, 1,400 submissions were winnowed down to a final eight by an elite selection committee. One of those winners, Alena Smith, recently sat down with Mark Peikert to discuss her play The Sacrifices and her feelings about summer.

So first, tell us about your play.
The Sacrifices is about a family on a cruise. The main character is the son, Justin, who just graduated from art school and wants to be in New York, but his parents whisk him on a cruise and drop the bomb on him that they won’t be supporting him financially anymore. And then he throws the tantrum to end all tantrums.

Are you excited about putting it up?
I am! But I spent three years writing this play. In some sense, my job is done. It’s time to pass the baton to the director. I have to understand that the play is mine, but the production is ours.

Since it’s our summer preview issue, let’s talk seasonal. Are you looking forward to it?

I’m excited. After the winter we had, I’m like, ‘Bring on the 90-degree weather!’

Do you have any favorite annual summer theater events?
SPF! And The Ice Factory Festival at the Ohio Theater, which I was in. And waiting in line for Shakespeare in the Park. I’m in the Public Theater’s Emerging Artists Theater Group, and I’ll be sitting in on rehearsals for The Bacchae. Philip Glass did the music for it and I’m working on a show about a composer, so I’m excited about that. And seeing Anne Hathaway in Twelfth Night.

Where do you like to go in the city when it’s hot?
Living in Brooklyn, I spend a lot of time in the park. It’s a fun place in the summer. I just like that people are less anxious. The pace becomes a little more relaxed. I’m excited to have everyone be physically relaxed.

Back to The Sacrifices. Are all the SPF plays summer-themed?
No, it’s just a total coincidence that mine is set on a cruise. This is going to sound pretentious, but the cruise ship is kind of a metaphor. These Americans on a ship out in the middle of the water, and they don’t really know what’s out there.

So a little like Katharine Anne Porter’s Ship of Fools?
Or Titanic.