Sitting with her grandmother at the age of seven, a young Andrea Clinton wrote her first play.
“I was talking her ear off and she sat me down with a pencil and notebook and said, ‘Why don’t you put it in a story for me,’” Clinton recalls.
Since they had been reading plays together at the time, Clinton wrote her story in that format- one which would stick with her through her adult life, and ultimately lead to her passion for writing novels and screenplays.
At first glance, Clinton seems to be the antithesis of the typical theater person, she’s demure, quiet, and very reserved, but behind that exterior lies something bold, brave and colorful. It is the person that has been inspired by her Funkadelic uncle George Clinton, and the rest of the eclectic and creative Clinton/Giles family.
It is this person that is the mastermind behind Murphy’s Law: Group Therapy Gone Wild- a dark comedy that is set to premiere in Union County next week at the Union County Performing Arts Center’s Hamilton Stage.
In the play, Dr. Kapewski also known as Dr. Pew is an unconventional, quirky, hippie-psychotherapist that brings her patients, who would not normally be in each other’s company, together for “dramatic group therapy.” As the saying goes, anything that can go wrong will, as her patients get carried away in their own personalities, in a group therapy session gone wild.
In addition to her creative work, Clinton is the founder of People Helping People, Inc. a non-profit that seeks to help disenfranchised people become independent and self-sufficient by providing programs, services and counseling, and connecting people with resources.
Then there is People Helping People’s mental health initiative- a program that was ignited when, in addition to the growing number of reported suicides, one of Clinton’s loved ones took their own life and another died as an adverse affect of a suicide attempt some years earlier.
Coping with these tragedies and reminiscent of her own challenging bout with panic attacks over a decade prior, Clinton found commonality among diversity in her own group therapy sessions and her passion for advocating mental health awareness developed.
“In theatre, we playwrights and others ask ourselves, ‘Why this play? Why now?’ The issue of mental health around the nation today demands this play and calls for it and others that advocate the cause, now. This is why we seek producers and producing theatre’s—we hope they will join me in utilizing theatre to spread the word about the importance of a healthy mental health to the masses.”
She explains that battles with mental health come in all shapes and sizes.
“I knew that this play couldn’t just reveal how sharing your woe or being with others – that isn’t enough. This play had to ADVOCATE.”
So how do you seek advocacy through comedy? According to Clinton, people digest things better with a dose of laughter.
“We need to be sensitive about the platter on which we serve these issues or else it may be too dismal,” said Clinton. “Similar to what you see on TV, when a sitcom addresses an issue but there is still laughter involved, it lessens the blow of the reality.”
Murphy’s Law is set to run November 13th through the 15th at the Union County Performing Arts Center’s Hamilton Stage.
Tickets are priced at $15 general admission and $20 for a VIP ticket, which includes a cocktail hour reception & VIP seating. Group rates are also available for 10 or more tickets. To purchase, or for additional information, please contact UCPAC Box Office at 732-499-8226 or visit ucpac.org.
Murphy’s Law is being produced by People Helping People, Inc. and the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholder through the UCACT Program. UCACT grants funding to cover the hard costs associated with putting up at production at the Union County Performing Arts Center. Through creative partnership and a holistic approach, the program creates a successful business model for Community Theater, allowing them to provide quality performances while also thriving financially.
Clinton is currently working on an adaptation of her first novel, One Who Loves You More into a 2-act play and is working on another play titled A Family Affair. She has two completed 1-act plays, Tracy and Only the Strong Survive, which have been accepted to the DC Black Theatre Festival for 2016. She is an independent author and has published 4 books: One Who Loves You More, A Blessing and a Curse, Red Dollar and Love at First Plight. She has two more books going into publication in the near future titled Where Do We Go From Here and Pot Luck, a book of poetry, short stories and commentary. In 2016, she seeks to follow with Silent as a Lamb and Tracy, which are sequels to her first book One Who Loves You More.