NO PLACE LIKE HOME is officially one week away from Opening Night! We took some time this week to sit down with co-writers & directors Soroya Rowley and Andrew Steele to give our fans some insider information on the exciting new musical. Check it out:
What inspired you to develop No Place Like Home?
SOROYA: I moved to San Diego in 2005 and one of the first things that struck me about the city was the large amount of people living on the streets. This was not something that I saw in the small town I came from. I started to write about the issue but felt my perspective was severely lacking in knowledge and understanding. Years later I had the opportunity to work with PATH (People Assisting The Homeless) through the Old Globe Community Voices Program. Katie Harroff and I taught a playwriting class for some of the permanent residents at PATH. To become a permanent resident at PATH you must have a legal disability and you must have suffered from being chronically homeless. I grew to love our students for their humor, passion, strength and brutal honesty. Their heart wrenching and moving stories inspired me to write this piece.
ANDREW: My greatest inspiration for this piece was my dear friend and co-author Soroya Rowley. Since I have known Soroya she has expressed an interest in the issue of homelessness. When she approached me about helping her develop a musical around it I thought it was brilliant. It’s something that there is a lot of fuel for artistic inspiration. Soroya's passion for the subject as well as my own desire to push my artistic limits really helped inspire me to develop this project.
What are your main sources of inspiration for the style of the show?
SOROYA: Of the 6 people I interviewed there was one particular story that stood out to me the most. A beautiful young woman, the same age as me, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy and was kicked out of her strict Mormon home at the tender age of 19 inspired Daisy, the main character of No Place Like Home. I had a major, visceral connection to this woman.
Musically, I immediately was drawn to the blues for this show. The roots of blues music, coming from a community that was severely oppressed and underrepresented, provided the perfect emotional foundation for this story. I listened to a lot of the classics like BB King and Bessie Smith to get me in the groove. Beyond that I was also inspired by my personal musical taste for pop, folk and rock music.
ANDREW: All of the "Chamber Musicals" that I grew up with were a big source of inspiration for me. Works such as Tick Tick Boom by Jonathan Larsen and A Man of No Importance by Stephen Flaherty really inspired the tone and approach I took with the music. They were small in production but due to this minimalist approach were huge in emotional payoff. That is a style of theater that really attracts me.
Beyond that, my largest source of inspiration for this piece was all of the cast members. We have such a unique and muli-talented cast. Working in a room together with them really gave me all of the best ideas and concepts that we have developed. You can really see the thumbprint of all of the actors in the piece because we developed it around the ensemble and what really moves us as artists.
3. Why do you think audiences will enjoy it?
SOROYA: The music! The score includes some of the best songs Andrew and I have ever written. It’s catchy, intelligent and full of soul. The music and the dialogue merge beautifully to take audiences through a story that is devastating and then uplifting, and startlingly relatable to even the most privileged among us.
ANDREW: Audiences will enjoy No Place Like Home because it is a piece of visceral theater. It is not trying to be anything more than an honest and simple piece of live performance. The simplicity of it really allows the content to shine through. The story is devastatingly alien and painfully easy to relate to all at once. The music is catchy, the staging is raw and the cast is so genuine. We have struck a wonderful balance of grit and beauty. I feel confident saying that everyone is going to leave the theater with a few of these tunes stuck in their head. Even more important they will leave with a new perspective on homelessness and with a greater sense of compassion for all of mankind.