Written by Patrick Chavis
Last weekend, I met playwright Nick Juarez inside a mobile home record store in the middle of the hyper-hipster paradise known as “The LAB” 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 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 got into writing in High School at Estancia,” Juarez said. He then explained that his first experience with outstanding playwriting was reading the works of absurdist playwright Christopher Durang. “I read this play called the Marriage of Bette And Boo. He writes these hilarious plays; they’re wacky but brilliant and sometimes very dramatic. I remember being 15 or 16 and being moved. I couldn’t put it down. I just thought that was so cool. Then I read the passage 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 genuinely impressed that Durang could create something positive from such a negative experience. When talking about the story of Bette and Boo, Juarez said, “It’s hilarious, 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 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 a high school, Juarez responded, “this is where I fell in love with this stuff. I had this existential question. What would I do with my life if I had never joined drama? 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 unique emotional baggage they 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 voices. Then from there, I just started chasing it, asking questions. I just asked myself those tough questions about my fears and composed a narrative.”
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 excellent honest work. Some talented people, and it’s easy for them to phone it in. I think if you have a good eye, you can see that. It’s not real, and they (the kids) are genuine, 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.