Q&A: Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery with Megan Gray

Interviews Thursday March 14, 2019, 10:00am - by Elaine Bledsoe

Inspired by the short story (and its author) of the same name, Shirley Jackson's The Lottery debuted last month at Magnet. What's it all about? Megan Gray is here to tell ya. It's a improv show where longtime Magnet instructors and Megawatt performers jump up and play with Magnet students of all levels! Students can put their name in the hat and get picked to play in the following month's show. In March, The Lottery is up on Monday the 18th at 10:30pm, so nab your Lottery tickets today!

Megan Gray looks directly into the camera in front of three out of focus people.

What kind of show is Shirley Jackson's The Lottery?

The Lottery is an improvised monthly show combining students who put their name in a black wooden box with Magnet teachers and Megawatt performers. The original paraphernalia for The Lottery has been lost long ago, and the black box that now rests on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man Herbstman, the oldest man in town, was born. I've spoken frequently to the Magnet about making a new box, but no one likes to upset even as much tradition as is represented by the black box.

Why exactly is this show named after the 1948 short story, The Lottery, written by American author Shirley Jackson?

That was the idea of Artistic Director, Michael Lutton, who thought it would be funny and help our crops. He told me, "Pack of crazy fools, listening to the young folks, nothing's good enough for them. Used to be a saying about 'Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.' There's always been a lottery," he added petulantly. "Bad enough to see young Dmitry Shein up there joking with everybody."

Okay, the name may be kind of scary, but should improvisers be scared to come and perform?

No one should be scared. And the Lottery is not optional.

Which Magnet performers can we expect to see up there?

Louis Kornfeld, Rick Andrews, Elana Fishbein, Bianca Casusol, and a neat pile of stones.

What's the best advice you could give someone who's nervous about performing or trying improv?

The fun of improv isn't about being clever or doing it right, it's about being yourself and having fun with others. Relax in the moment and listen to the person on stage with you.

Shirley Jackson

Have you read The Lottery, and do you have thoughts about how the whole "Purge" horror franchise has ripped off this nice dead lady? And did you know she wrote "The Haunting of Hill House"?

I thought "The Lottery" was a nice story about a family winning a lot of money until I met Michael Lutton. I didn't know she wrote "The Haunting of Hill House," but that also sounds like a nice, wholesome story.

If you are a Shirley Jackson aficionado, which story of hers would you say is your favorite?

I am not a Shirley Jackson aficionado.

Try your luck at Shirley Jackson's The Lottery, Monday March 18 at 10:30pm!