"The Vampire Dairies" (also known as “The Vampire Monologue Series”) is an original new collection of plays by acclaimed playwright Rosary O'Neill that is under consideration to be performed at the Westchester Collaborative Theater in August of 2017. The theater originally produced shows in a library, then a firehouse, and now has its own working playhouse under the operation of its owner, executive director Alan Lutwin.

The Ossining, New York theater has an ongoing monologue workshop program conducted via their membership of actors and through this program, Rosary hopes to have two of her "Vampire Monologue" pieces read by actress Elaine Hartel in August.

Plays and inspirations

"The Vampire Monologues" are a series of plays that read as monologues from the "undead of New Orleans" including women who were buried alive, those hovering above their caskets, and some who are lost between life and death.

Although the series was not initially written exclusively for women, that is how the project has materialized.

"Seeing my monologues in the vitally charged environment of other playwrights’ monologues crystalizes my understanding of the form," Rosary O'Neill stated in a recent interview with me. "All the monologues emphasize the importance of high stakes and danger, and it is in that atmosphere that I revise realizing that the life and death struggle at the end is really what all theater and life are leading up to.

I am writing about danger from the other side."

Rosary started writing the monologues series when she was still living in her hometown of New Orleans. "Being from New Orleans we have a fascination with death," Rosary stated. "So many events there champion the dead, such as the Save Our Cemeteries Cocktail Event, Ann Rice’s Gothic tours, the Voodoo and Vampire Tours in the French Quarter, the Jazz Funerals, where people strut and scream, 'When the Saints Go Marching in,' all the way to the cemetery.

In New Orleans, you can order any kind of internment. A patron of the theater I founded and ran had her corpse all glamorized up and was seated, cigarette holder in hand, at her table as if she was receiving someone!"

Rosary is fascinated by the history of New Orleans and the people who have lived in the city are constant sources of inspiration to her. Another one of her plays involves Marie Laveau, who was a famous "Voodoo Queen," who lived in the city centuries ago.

Her own experiences growing up in “The Big Easy” were equally as interesting; when she was ten, her friend’s parents rented a hearse for them to go trick or treating in while dressed up like vampires!

Monologues and characters

At present, there are two very notable segments of the monologue series - "The Vampire" and "The Corpse." The first play chronicles the adventures of a vampire who must return from the dead to visit the St.

Louis Cemetery in New Orleans and kill the famous Voodoo Priestess, Marie Laveau. The vampire is tormented and does not want to do it, but finally, succeeds in murdering Marie only to discover that she is being assigned another kill. Essentially, the only way that the vampire can learn how to grow in the afterlife is through these brief encounters where she must murder.

The second play, "The Corpse," is about an undead woman who was murdered in New Orleans.

Throughout the play, her ghost hovers above her casket and laments being buried in such a tacky funeral home and goes on to unveil some disturbing facts about her family, chiefly her husband and daughter.

Rosary is currently working on the third monologue that is titled "The Stalker" and which will be about a female vampire who is jealous of her young vampire husband and wants to make love to him. She subsequently stalks him and his new girlfriend in an attempt to rid herself of her fiendish desires before ordering a double casket and shares her desire to lay with him there forevermore.

The fourth story, as of now untitled, will involve a hesitant vampire who drinks the blood of rats so he does not have to turn into a full vampire, which can only happen if he drinks human blood. One night, he wanders into a cemetery and stumbles upon a beautiful woman who changes the course of his fate.

Book about Voodoo in New Orleans

Even while Rosemary works on this series of plays, she is also under contract to write a book on New Orleans with Rory Schmitt called "Voodoo and Spirituality in 19th Century New Orleans."

None of Rosary's characters from the “Vampire Monologues” are based on real murder victims.

"All the monologues came out of my subconscious, although New Orleans was, at one time, unfortunately, one of the leading cities for murder in America," Rosary stated. However, she noted that when she was teaching at Loyola University, one of her students dove off a six-story building in an attempted suicide. Although she survived the fall, her story party inspired the main character in the "Corpse" play. "Stories are always connected to one's subconscious and conscious experiences," Rosary continued.

"I have witnessed so much abuse of women in an alcohol 'party' driven city like New Orleans and I guess my imagination wanted to speak out against those who couldn't come out the box and speak for themselves."

Rosary is excited to be presenting the plays at the Westchester Collaborative Theater since she found out about it from her cousin, Elaine Hartel, an actress who is also starring in the plays.

"Elaine lives in Westchester and loves my plays and wanted to do them there," Rosary explained. "Most regional theaters do musicals or well-known comedies but when Elaine discovered that Alan was forming this marvelous new theater company with the focus exclusively on new plays she contacted me.

I met Alan Lutwin and was very impressed by his brilliance, kindness, and intuitive understanding of playwrights and new work."

Elaine Hartel readily agrees with Rosary’s thoughts and she has a deep and integral understanding of the materials in which she is starring.

“I was born, raised, and educated in New Orleans and I have relatives buried above ground there including my sister and my father who died young,” Elain stated. “My mother, aunt, many cousins, and other family members are buried in St.

Louis cemetery which is where one of the monologues takes place. My cousin Rosary is an incredible playwright who gets it right. I'm attracted to drama and edgy dark characters, which Rosary brings to life, as well as the humor she finds in her pieces.”

Elaine was excited and honored to be selected to play the lead role of “Claudia” in the “Corpse” monologue. “Claudia is evil but very stylish,” Elaine declared. “She was a lot of fun to play. My favorite part is the removal of the shroud from my face as the play opens, and the replacement of it as it closes!”

Future projects and plans

The Westchester Collaborative Theater has proven to be a haven for Rosary to share her creative projects.

Some of her other plays performed there are "Turtle Soup" (about a mean dying woman who relentlessly guards her money), "Buried Alive" (about a 19th century Voodoo Queen who is placed in her casket prematurely), "White Suits in Summer" (about death and money and the compromises great artists must make to keep alive) "Broadway or Bust" (about cancer survivors who are auditioning for Broadway) and now these two monologues.

Rosary and Elaine both consider the theater’s executive director Alan Lutwin, to be an essential part of their successes and the nurturing of modern-day arts in general.

Alan has been working with playwrights for many years in Westchester, New York, and he is especially interested in previously unproduced works. In a theatrical industry where original work is often considered second-class or recycled pieces, Alan’s dedication to original scripts is especially laudable and many of the playwrights who take part in his readings later go on to win international accolades.

"I am deeply grateful to Alan for following his dream and the dream of us writers to get our words to an audience," Rosary said. "While most new theaters focus on the tried and true, Alan focuses on the unknown and possible. It is that potential that fires life into his theater in the feedback he gives to each new work and the level of trust and insight he provides for artists."

Although Rosary lives in Manhattan and must commute forty miles to the theater, she considers the travel to be a worthwhile effort. "We have watched the magic of new theater and a new facility being born," she said. "Alan has led his theater from an auditorium in a library, to a walk-up fire station, to now its own black box theater."

For his part, Alan is equally as taken with Rosary’s scripts. “I like the flavor of New Orleans that Rosary brings to her work,” he said recently. “I hope she will remain an active part of our group for many years to come.”

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