My play ROSE RED at The Roberta Jones Junior Theatre of Santa Clara, CA.
An Interview with Kelly McAllister

Indie Theater Now asked Kelly McAllister a few questions about his play Rose Red.

What’s this play about? Please give us a brief synopsis (a sentence or two) and also talk about what you believe to be the most important theme(s) in the play.

This musical is based on the folk tale Rose Red and Snow White. Rose and Snow are sisters, and polar opposites. Rose is wild and reckless, Snow is careful and obedient. The sorceress Endorra Belle, along with the Wolf King and his Army of the Night, kidnaps Snow, and it's up to Rose to save her.

Why did you want to write about this subject/theme?

I always loved the story when I was a boy- but there was a part at the end that bugged me. Snow White ends up with Prince Charming, and then they marry Rose Red off to the prince's brother, who just shows up at the end. I found the theme of people having to accept each other, no matter how different they are, something worth writing about, especially for young people. So I took the original story, expanded it greatly, and changed the ending. Now, at the end, Rose goes off to find her way in the world, because "a wild rose is only happy when it's free."

How did you decide what names to give the characters in this play?

The original story only has five characters- Snow White, Rose Red, a nameless dwarf, nameless mother, and nameless bear who turns out to be a nameless prince. I name my characters after all sorts of things- sometimes it's to fit the character's personality, sometimes it's an obscure literary reference, or pop culture reference, or a reference to someone from my own life. I named the dwarf The Imp after my favorite character on Game of Thrones. I made up three silly knights for the story, and named them Sir Lost, Sir And, & Sir Found because I thought it was funny. I also created a bunch of animal friends for Rose and Snow- I named the Raccoon Rocky after the song Rocky Raccoon by the Beatles. Endorra Belle, who I also created for this version of the story, is named after two historical figures- The Bell Witch of Tennessee, and The Witch of Endor from the Bible. The Wolf King is stolen from a book of the same name I loved as a boy. Naming is important, and I often play around with different names until I find the right one. It's a process. Oh, and I named Rona, Hedda, and Louella the three gossips who begin each act after famous gossip columnists.

Describe your writing process. Do you write longhand, on a computer, a tablet? Do you write every day? Do you outline the play beforehand?

I write on a computer. My handwriting is too slow. When I'm in the thick of it, I write every day- for sure every morning, and then more if something comes to me during the day- which often happens. I'll be doing something completely unrelated, and a line or scene will come to me, and it's crazy, and I have to write it down. Also, each play has it's own process- some I outline, some fly out from some dimensional door in my brain that connects to another universe where stories live.

Is there a character in this play that you particularly identify with? Which one, and why?

Of course! Ideally, a writer should identify with all their characters. I do find myself relating to the Timberwolf in this one. He's the younger brother of The Wolf King, and can never go home. He has a song, Defining Far, about how he can never go home. For me, it's about never being able to go to the home of our childhood. Here's some of the lyrics: So if you find me howling, and crying all at once, or looking off at nothing you can see, I hope you do forgive me, for I'm looking at my home, that I can only go to in my dreams.My parents are both dead now, and as such there really is no way I can go home, and after i wrote those lyrics, I realized I was really writing about myself.

posted June 6, 2014