In the following guest post, Karen Hildebrand explains her experience writing a new play about sex, love and the cure for “happily ever after” (The Old In And Out, directed by Kat Georges, starring Holly Crane, Eloise Eonnet, Olivia Jampol and Rachel Ritacco) with her co-author Madeline Artenberg.

The Old In and Out is a provocative title. Isn’t it from “A Clockwork Orange?” 

It’s actually British slang for intercourse. We wanted to set a certain tone—this isn’t sentimental material about love and romance. The women of “The Old In and Out” start out on a pretty traditional path to marriage, but things don’t work out. That’s when their stories really take off. (The pre-AIDS ‘70s was the era of free love, but boy, did women pay a price.) But it’s more than that as well. ‘In and out’ can refer to shadow play—the way you can step in and out of the light. It also conveys that our material dips in and out of humor and pathos.

You’re poets. How did you end up writing a play?

We turned poetry into monologues. Some are still pretty poetic and others are more conversational. The play is an emotional roller coaster. Within 70 minutes, we take you from sweet and innocent through devastating loss and come out somewhere in the ocean breeze of the New Jersey shore.

What’s it like to put such personal emotional work in the hands of actors? You’re used to performing it yourself, right? 

Once we cast the four young women who star in this production, the piece grew even more powerful. Their acting brings a whole new dimension to the roles, which has been amazing to watch. It isn’t an easy piece to perform—the tone can shift dramatically within a few lines of each monologue. For instance there are a couple of pieces that take place at the funerals of characters’ fathers. It’s an archetypal event when a woman loses the first man who loved her, and the situation is ripe for conflicting emotions. One scene has a laugh out loud moment at the gravesite; another includes a flashback–she’s angry with her dad about his sexual past. Yet both pieces contain very tender moments.

Is there really a cure for “happily ever after”?

If the play were a self-help book, its subtitle might be: Look for a mate: Find yourself! Not that we’re holding out these women as role models for personal growth—far from it. There’s hitchhiking, pole dancing, altered consciousness and yes, sex. (We warn in our promo material about adult language and situations.) But the characters do gain wisdom over time and the getting there part is a pretty good ride.

The Old In and Out 

Opens June 14 at Stage Left Studio Theater, NYC. Plays Fridays and Saturdays through June 22. Buy tickets here ($20)