In a way, Honor Moor has Donald Trump to thank for becoming a playwright.
“You asked me why I wanted to write a play. I think it’s more I had to write this play,” Moor said. “All the news was so compelling that I felt I wanted to get it down and I wanted to get it out. For me, probably, I felt like many people, hey, it was a way to digest all of it.”
Moor is an Asheville native who performed on stages off-off-Broadway and in Seattle before returning home with her husband to raise her two children. She earned a living raising money for nonprofit organizations and saw her career in performance largely behind her.
Then the 2016 election happened.
“I was feeling overwhelmed, I was hearing a lot of stories locally that I found alarming—hate crimes,” Moor said. “Specifically, I remember the story of one African-American woman who was bullied at an Ingles grocery store. That particular story flew around the Internet and Facebook and ended up in the play.”
“Mountain Political Action Committee,” by Moor, opens Feb. 22 and runs through March 10 at Asheville’s Magnetic Theatre. Moor wrote the play as a character-driven comedy taking place in smalltown Western North Carolina. It focuses on five ordinary people who come together to keep an eye out for government overreach. Soon, their attention turns to a crime.
“Many of my friends said you wrote a comedy about the 2016 election, and I said yeah, there’s a lot of humor out there in all of it,” Moor said. “Comedy, of course, often comes out of darkness.”
Theater might seem a more challenging creative platform for expressing social and political discontent, than, say, slam poetry or songwriting. Not for Moor.
“Writers each sort of have their natural place where they feel comfortable writing,” she said. “And because I’ve spent a lifetime in theater, dialog comes out quite easily for me.”
There was a bidding war of sorts for this play. Three companies were invited to a reading of it, and all three offered to produce the show. Moor chose Magnetic Theatre because the company has a history of producing original works by local playwrights.
“I think people not liking the play because of its political point of view is a valid response to a piece of art,” Andrew Gall, the Magnetic’s interim artistic director. “It’s not really tromping up a big political agenda. It’s about people.
For Moor, it’s opened a channel of creativity she doesn’t see leaving. She’s mulling a sequel, along with altogether new stories to stage.
“I’m in midlife now and have a lot of stories to tell,” Moor said. “I think when you write a full-length play and you actually complete it and actually get to a point where there’s a reading and you actually get to a point where theaters pick it up and people are now rehearsing it, you think you can do this, that this is possible.”