Written by Patrick Chavis
I met play-write Nick Juarez last weekend inside a mobile home record store in the middle of the hyper-hipster paradise known as “The LAB” nestled in Costa Mesa, California. I’d never met Nick before but he was the only person in the trailer, so I took a guess and he greeted me nicely. We walked from the record store to a table near the middle of the Anti-mall. I started the interview by trying to get more information about the guy. Who is Nick? What inspires him to write? But he just didn’t seem interested in himself. Instead he focused on the kids in his new play Whisper all the Time and Estancia High School, the place that made him who he is today.
“I really got into writing, when I was in High School at Estancia,” Juarez said. He then explained that his first true experience with great playwriting was reading the works of absurdist playwright Christopher Durang. “I read this play called the Marriage of Bette And Boo. He writes these very funny plays and they’re kind of wacky in a way but they’re really smart and at times very dramatic. I remember being 15 or 16 and being really moved. I couldn’t put it down. I just thought that was so cool. Then I read the passage that they write at the end of the play and I found out a lot of Bette and Boo was based on his parent’s relationship and that he wrote the play to get through a tough time.” Juarez was truly impressed that Durang was able to create something positive from such a negative experience. When talking about the story of Bette and Boo Juarez said, “It’s really funny, heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time”.
After graduating High School, Nick remained active by writing & directing plays at Estancia with his former teacher Pauline Marianna. Eventually, Nick and Pauline became good friends and started working on their own material together. The outcome of this partnership was last year’s adaptation of Charles Mee’s play Big Love and now this year a completely original work called Whisper all the Time. “I think I’ve always wanted to write a full-length play. I didn’t know when or where but I knew it was going to happen,” Juarez said.
When asked about the challenges he faced writing this piece, Juarez recalled, “The challenge really for me was writing something that was High School appropriate and had the right amount of characters and that would be feasible in that space. Of course there are challenges, but challenges are good. They make you work harder!” In response to why he picked high school, Juarez responded, “this is where I fell in love with this stuff. I had this existential question. If I never joined drama, what would I be doing with my life? I wouldn’t be who I am now. So I will always be willing to jump in and help out there (at Estancia).”
Whisper All The Time is a family issue drama about four siblings living in Teaneck, New Jersey that have to deal with each other after the death of their father. Each character in the story carries their own unique emotional baggage that they all must deal with when they return home. “I’m 26 but I’m getting to the age where those issues (family issues) are starting to creep into the conversation, Juarez explained.” “I started thinking about friends with similar fears and these characters just started popping up. I saw them and then they started having their own voices. Then from there, I just started chasing it, asking questions. I really just asked myself those tough question about the fears I had and composed a narrative through that.”
Juarez finished the interview with a nod to the actors and school which seemed to be a pattern throughout the entire interview. “As much as I would like to say I’m a brilliant amazing young talent, honestly, you should come for the kids. The kids are so good. They’re crazy talented, crazy dedicated and they’re doing really good honest work. There are people that are talented and it’s easy for them to just phone it in. I think if you have a good eye you can see that. It’s not real and they (the kids) are very real, Juarez said.”
Estancia Drama Department
2323 Placentia Ave. Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Who: Estancia H.S. Production Drama
What: Whisper All the Time
Where: Estancia H.S., BVH Theatre
When: November 14–15, 21– 22 @ 7:30 PM
Contact: Pauline Maranian, Director
For ticket information call Pauline Maranian at (949)-515-6537.