Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Planet Connections Interview - Hope Weiner of "Smacker and the Highway"

By Byrne Harrison

Name:  Hope Weiner
Show:  "Smacker and the Highway"
Relationship to production: Writer

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I am 44 years old and have been on quite a path I started off in dance and theatre as a kid and continued to participate through my twenties. I then went to law school which subsequently launched me on a twelve year career with the Geneva based International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. In 2008 I returned to New York where the bug started to nibble at me again.

Who are your biggest influences?

Artistically I am absolutely in awe of Studs Terkel, Michael Moore, Arthur Miller and anyone who has ever given a voice to the little guy.

What is your show about?

My play is really about taking the one life you have been given into your hands so that you can live in a state of decency. In summary, the play is set in an America where everyone has been thrown out of their house for not being good enough or pretty enough.  The population has been bullied into inertia and now they find themselves wandering the highways of America searching for hope.
What inspired you to write it?

I was inspired by infomercials and being talked at instead of being spoken or listened to.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?

The play has really been put in the hands of a visionary and multitalented young director named Molly Ballerstein. 

Why was it important to you to be part of an eco-friendly theatre festival?

An eco-friendly theatre festival is important to me because our role in theatre is to spark thought and to acknowledge our struggles as a community. We are prepared to live more mindfully then previous generations.

Planet Connections donates a portion of the box office for each show to a charity.  What charity has your production chosen and why?

Grand Central Neighborhood Social Services Corporation. The organization is one of the largest drop-in centers serving a diverse street homeless population of single adults. According to the latest statistics from the Coalition for the Homeless the number of homeless persons in New York has nearly doubled since Bloomberg became mayor.  At the same time, rents have also reached an all time high.  In parallel mindfulness, compassion and decency in our city’s policies have become increasingly rare.

What's next for you after Planet Connections?

Protests rallies and campaigning…….

If you could do one thing to change the world, what would it be?

This is easy. I have seen people all over the world and in my backyard who are denied basic needs. IT is actually heartbreaking to realize how hard we work and struggle for basic needs. Among them housing, at present all over the world lives are endangered because the majority of land is held by very few people, as a result we see homelessness, overcrowded and unhygienic slum settlements or people living in areas where they are vulnerable to natural disasters. If I could change the world I would create a common denominator of decency where all resources to have a decent home, health care and education would be available to everyone.  In essence I would have a say and a voice in how my tax money is used and how my country, my city and my community were run and that voice would actually mean something.

For more information, visit

No comments: