ROLLIN JEWETT – SOCKY TELLS ALL – Interview by Jen Bush
Rollin Jewett has been a lifelong purveyor of the arts. Some people dip their toe into various endeavors. Mr. Jewett completely submerged himself in a vast ocean of creativity. In front of audiences and behind the scenes, Mr. Jewett has all the bases covered. Not many people can say that Batman starred in their movie but he can. His brand new work Socky Tells All will be premiering in June. In his own words, we find out about his fascinating, diverse and award-winning career. “I’ve been involved in the arts my entire life and have attempted (with varying degrees of success) acting, screenwriting, playwriting, short stories, poetry, and singer-songwriter. As an actor, I played lead roles in many plays, had roles in films like the The Bodyguard (opposite Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner), Miami Vice, Unsolved Mysteries, hosted many TV shows and filmed dozens of commercials. As a screenwriter, I penned Carmen Electra’s first film, American Vampire (also starring Adam West) as well as the erotic thriller Laws of Deception with C. Thomas Howell, Brian Austin Green and James Russo. As a playwright, my plays are published by Lazy Bee Scripts and have been performed Off-Broadway, nationally and internationally. My short stories and poetry have been published in numerous high profile magazines and books, with a special leaning towards the horror genre. As a singer-songwriter, my music is available on all major music platforms and I have been nominated for/won numerous music awards, including the Hollywood Music in Media Awards, International Singer-Songwriter (ISSA) Awards, Indie Music Awards, Rampage Music Awards, Akademia Music Awards, Clouzine Music Awards, Red Carpet Awards and International Music Software Trade Association (IMSTA) Awards.”
The impetus behind writing this play sprung from a dire systemic mental health crisis currently afflicting our country. “The inspiration behind my latest play, Socky Tells All, is the current state of mental health care in our country. Children and adults are seemingly suffering from various mental health issues now more than ever and it’s time our government shines a light and puts more focus on the psychological welfare of our population, as violence in every form seems to be escalating to an unprecedented degree. More people are suffering from various forms of abuse, domestic and otherwise, as well as PTSD, and I wanted to address the lack of care in mental health facilities, which now seem to be more focused on monetary rewards than actual patient care. Hence, I wrote Socky as a reaction to the lack of care most mental health patients receive today.”
This is theatre so the message will be conveyed with entertainment value. The Twilight Zone has been entertaining audiences while simultaneously chilling them to the core for decades. Certain episodes continue to impact people to this day. This piece pays homage to that show and shows like it. Mr. Jewett explains more about that connection and the plot. “On another note, Socky is also a throwback to a kind of story one might see in an episode of The Twilight Zone or Night Gallery. It has a macabre and sinister sensibility, with its young protagonist a mental health patient engaged in a battle of wits with the hospital director in a war over whether the young man will stay or leave the asylum which he has now come to regard as his home — with an omniscient sock monkey seemingly the arbiter. The unexpected outcome is an homage to those mysterious stories told on television late at night in black and white and narrated by an ominous voice. “ Hopefully the audience will be unnerved enough to give some serious thought to this important subject matter after seeing the show.
Since Mr. Jewett has such a diversified body of work, his creative process is customized based on the project to achieve the greatest outcome. ‘My creative process varies from project to project and takes whatever form it needs to in order to manifest the story in the form that will best serve the story — whether it be a screenplay, a play, a short story or a poem. It can come from a snippet in a news article, a conversation overheard, a piece of music — anywhere really. And the story usually comes to me complete: beginning, middle and end. Then it’s just a process of sitting down and letting the creative juices flow. I typically write very fast and only do a few drafts before I finish something because I don’t ever start a story until I know almost everything that’s going to happen. Sometimes I surprise myself and the story takes on a life of its own as I write it. Those are usually the best stories because they practically write themselves. They don’t come from me, they simply flow through me, using me as a conduit, and when that happens they typically turn out better than I could have imagined. Stories that tell themselves are the best ones. Socky Tells All was one of those stories I had thought about for several years before I actually sat down and wrote it. And when I finished it, it turned out almost exactly as I had imagined it. I had said everything I wanted to say with it and now it’s up to the audience to watch, listen and draw their own conclusions about what they think the play represents in today’s society.”
There is definitely an added sense of responsibility when undertaking a work with weighty subject matter and Mr. Jewett acknowledges that. “I do feel an added sense of responsibility because you’re putting a point of view onstage and asking the audience to make their own interpretation of the message you’re presenting.” He’s hoping that his play will start conversations that will enact change. “If you’ve done your job well, the story will stay with the audience long after they’ve left the theatre and they will continue the dialogue with friends and colleagues and you will have made an impact and caused people to think deeply about the messages presented. I think the best a playwright can hope for is that their story will be remembered and discussed after the play is over. Sometimes, if enough people are influenced, they can become passionate advocates and real change can be affected.”
Living through a global pandemic has been akin to life being like a horror movie. The negative impact has been far reaching. “The pandemic has had a noticeable impact on all areas of modern life. People realize now that they are vulnerable in ways never before imagined and there’s palpable fear in that knowledge. There’s more caution in people’s lives now and we tend to walk on eggshells, waiting for what might be next: an asteroid? a war? look at Ukraine. The unexpected quality of the last few years has become a constant source of unnerving apprehension and we’re all feeling it. We’re all hoping to somehow feel “normal” again, waiting for our prior sense of “normalcy” to return, but it feels like those days are over. Apprehension is the new normal. Perhaps that’s why horror has become so popular. Horror feels normal now and it makes us feel like as bad as it is, hopefully it won’t be as bad as the zombie apocalypse or something like that. But who knows? It seems as though anything’s possible now.”
Mr. Jewett will continue to successfully construct new and wonderful works for the foreseeable future. He already has vampires and sock puppets in his bag of tricks. It will be thrilling to see where his creative compass will take him next. “I have a few film scripts circulating and hope that one might get the green light one of these days. I’m also writing and recording new songs and have a backlog of music to last several years. And I will continue to write stories and plays for publication and production. Hopefully, I will just continue to grow creatively and as a human being contemplating the strange new world we’re living in. I personally see no end in sight to my creative odyssey.”