If being a script writer for General Hospital these days is not enough, Scott Sickles is also an accomplished playwright whose new work debuts this Valentine’s Day in New York City!
Lighting From Heaven tells the love story behind the classic film and the celebrated novel Doctor Zhivago, between poet Boris Pasternak, his muse Olga Ivinskaya, and the Soviet government’s attempt to silence their story. After Pasternak’s death in 1960 Olga, his lover of fourteen years, was arrested by the KGB. Lighting From Heaven chronicles Olga’s subsequent interrogation and trial, while depicting her and Pasternak’s struggle to complete and publish Doctor Zhivago despite determined Soviet efforts to stop them.
Sickles spoke to On-Air On-Soaps not only about creating Lighting From Heaven, but also the challenges he faced when after writing for a few years at One Life to Live, he came aboard the GH writing team train where he had to write in the voice of many popular and beloved characters. Here is what he had to say about his exciting new play … and Port Charles!
Scott on what inspired him to write Lighting From Heaven: “I started writing this play in 1998. My dad found Olga Ivinskaya’s obituary in the newspaper and cut it out and handed it to me and said, “I know you like the movies. She just died!” I read the obituary and there was such a fascinating life in it that I went and found her memoirs. I did research on her, and over the next year or so, I put the play together.”
Scott on why soap fans would love to see the play: “It is a big sweeping epic romance. Soap fans like romance that is one of the main reasons they watch the soaps. In Lighting from Heaven, it’s a romance of a couple facing insurmountable odds. It is about an extra-marital relationship as well!
Scott on what are the easiest types of soap characters for him to write for: “After years of OLTL, it is usually easier for me to find the voice of a woman with a sharp tongue! (Laughs) I loved those characters, and I love Carly on General Hospital after writing ‘One Life’s’ Dorian. It’s the people who are more secretly witty and who you don’t expect to be funny in a certain way, like Sonny on GH and on Viki on ‘One Life’ that can be fun and challenging. With Sonny, you picture him being sort of taciturn and brooding and every now and then, you get to let loose and so it was great finding that voice.”
Scott on some of the more challenging types of scenes to write for on GH thus far: “The really challenging scenes when I got them were between Jason Morgan and John McBain and for the two men to talk to each other. They don’t speak! (Laughs) It was actually much easier to do once you got into it. And least those two characters only spoke to each other when they had to. So everything they said was important, and that was just great to try and figure out what those two men would actually say when they were in the same room with each other. I guess I specialize in the voice of the taciturn men! (Laughs)”
Scott on writing for the character of Damian Spinelli: “I was terrified at writing Spinelli, at first. Then I got the hang of it, and then I was told we are making Spinelli sound less like Spinelli, and making him talk like a regular person with an intense vocabulary. I spoke to GH writer Elizabeth Korte when I came on board at GH, and told her my biggest thing to figure out was … who is funny and how? And one character that came up was Elizabeth. You can’t be that beautiful, and suffer so horribly! (Laughs) She is often in those situations where she is heartbroken and then Maxie gets her in face and she sort of grits her teeth. It’s so much fun to listen to and write for.”
Scott on writing for Maxie Jones as played by Jen Lilley and Kirsten Storms: “I was happy to write for Maxie, and when we went from Jen Lilley to Kirsten Storms, I was wondering if there would be a sigfnicant change in the voices. I remember Kirsten being different from Jen, but when Kirsten came back, it sort of all clicked. That was great.”
Lighting From Heaven runs from Valentine’s Day February 14th through March 9th for a limited engagement at the Workshop Theatre Company at 312 W. 36th Street 4th Floor in New York City. To purchase ticket and show information visit workshoptheatre.org
What do you think about Scott’s comments about writing the characters of GH? Let us know your thoughts!