An Interview with Abby Rosebrock, Playwright of Singles in Agriculture
By Bryan Montemayor
BM: How about you tell the readers a little about yourself?
AR: I am originally from South Carolina. I moved to New York and began my career as an actress, playwright, and writer of all trades. Currently, I am working on new pieces and I’m also assisting the Barracuda Comedy Group with online video content. I attended Columbia University, receiving my doctorate in Medieval Literature and I was on track to becoming a professor. But after some soul searching, I decided that I needed to do what made me happy and went back to the Arts. So you can say I had a bit of a detour. My education helped inform my instincts and introduced me to a multitude of stories and characters I might have otherwise not noticed, so I am grateful for the experience.
BM: Where did you get the idea for Singles in Agriculture?
AR: An actor friend of mine brought it to my attention. The S.I.A. community actually exists and I thought it was incredibly interesting. Around the same time, I started seeing ads for the Farmer’s Only dating site and it just stirred something in me. I did my research into the culture, but being raised in South Carolina, I’ve also been exposed to farming life and how lonely it can be. Living in New York City, surrounded by a sea of ambitious, busy individuals, I shared that same sense of isolation at times. Alongside all of that, I also listen to friends and their dating experiences and it all just serves to make the connection stronger.
BM: This play has only been workshopped and performed at festivals in NYC, what excites you about it being produced in Lawrenceville, GA?
AR: I love that I get to see another creative team take a crack at Singles in Agriculture. I played Priscilla in New York City and it really helped me with revisions. This is a play that really benefits from different perspectives, with characters from different cultures. I’m glad that it will get the chance to speak to people outside of the northeast and to those from my native region. I’m super excited about the cast and the crew. I’ve been so happy seeing the designs, the marketing, and talking to Justin about his vision for the show. He immediately grasped the central idea of the play and why I wrote it. I could not be more excited for the final product.
BM: What would you say was the toughest challenge in workshopping the play the first time around?
AR: It’s hard to say because the first time, I got to work in the ideal mode for my process. I had the opportunity to be working with a team that I trusted completely. We had a well-equipped, intimate space for Singles in Agriculture. The chance to build this play from the ground up gave us a chance to flex all of our muscles. Putting up any play has its own set of challenges but it helps when you work with people who are excited and skilled at giving new plays life. I think the most challenging aspect at the beginning was working through this as both an Actor and a Writer. I was working tirelessly but it was invigorating and pushed me to be my best. I didn’t know that I wanted a regional expansion for S.I.A. but my coworkers and Director knew that this story could speak to others after our initial run.
BM: Do you have any advice for aspiring playwrights?
AR: My strategy as far as playwriting goes is to write furiously. Write until you discover characters that you love. When I have trouble following through, it really helps because once I find them, I can’t seem to tear myself away from the page by then. It helps you ignore the clock, especially once they become clear enough to see. Another piece of advice would be to work in or observe other disciplines. I delve into the works of other artists from different mediums because it helps cultivate new thoughts and perspectives for my work. I, for one, usually find great comfort in reading novels or listening to music that I have not fully engaged with in the past or are a part of my “coming of age”. Lastly, it’s important to keep the faith that you will find those characters and they will help drive the creation of the story.