Playwrights

Playwrights Paula Gerhardt, Amanda Rempe, and Laura Griffin created 'Distantly Social' for On Stage Walton, which premieres June 4, 2021, in Monroe, Ga.

MONROE, Ga. – On Stage, Monroe’s community theater, presents an original comedy/drama, “Distantly Social,” a light-hearted look at the frustrations shared during the COVID-19 pandemic, in six performances starting June 4.

The play was written by three veteran players in the On Stage troupe: Paula Gerhardt, Amanda Rempe and Laura Griffin, and is directed by On Stage Artistic Director Marc Hammes.

Evening performances will be June 4-5 and 11-12 at 8 p.m. The Sunday matinee performances will be June 6 and 13 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 apiece and go on sale online (www.onstagewalton.org) and at Carmichael Drugs on Friday, May 21.

Carmichael's only accepts cash, check, or member vouchers for tickets. The play is rated PG for adult language.

Following current guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, masks are encouraged. Seating will be limited to allow social distancing for patrons and On Stage will continue its cleaning and safety procedures. There will no longer be assigned seating or temperature checks at the door.

“Community theaters have been forced to get more creative than ever just to survive during the pandemic,” Hammes said. “We went for months without a live performance, which had a huge impact on our revenue. We started thinking outside the box and started using YouTube, Facebook and our website even more.

“But the real leap forward came when Paula, our board vice president, suggested we produce a show themed around the pandemic. Amanda and Laura joined her on this wildly creative project – original plays are rare in community theaters – to avoid the royalties we pay to stage well-known plays,” Hammes said.

“And they had to write most of it without getting together in person!

“An added plus is that this is a fantastic play – with all the humor and drama everyone experienced during the pandemic.”

Gerhardt is the host and plays two other roles in the play. “On Stage currently has the challenge of keeping lights on and continuing to serve our community, but with the limitations that COVID has presented,” she said. “Our top priority is to be safe. To do that, having complete control of a project is incredibly helpful. The best way to have complete creative control is to create it yourself! And I have always wanted to create an original show.”

Rempe said the writing team “approached this script by writing separately, though we’ve collaborated for ideas, feedback, and revisions. We’ve primarily used email, virtual calls, and shared documents to collaborate. We finally started to meet in person with just three writers socially distanced and wearing masks.”

Griffin said, “Working on ‘Distantly Social’ has been a blast. Believe it or not, Amanda, Paula, and I have not one single argument. We each had a lot of artistic freedom – we drafted each piece individually, and then edited together, and that has worked out beautifully.

“One thing that has been central to all three playwrights is the need to find hope in a dark time,” Griffin said. “Most of what’s going on in this show is really funny. At the same time, we recognize that 2020 broke a lot of hearts in a lot of ways, and we don’t want to make light of that.”

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