Perception Q&A with author Joe Nogra

Chris Madaffer, Staff Writer

Perception is an original production from the Mesa College Theatre Co. written by former Mesa College student, Joe Nogra. Described as a “hilarious tale of love, disappointment, and eventually finding oneself,” the story revolves around social media and its effect on the lives of those connected to it.

I had the opportunity to do a Q & A with the author Joe Nogra, and he goes into detail of his inspirations and why he loves to write.


1.  How long have you been writing?


I’ve been writing for a while, but I’m relatively new to plays.  With my love for theatre, I have this mindset to immerse myself in every aspect and naturally scriptwriting came my way.  If there’s a stronger word than immerse, I would have used that instead!  I’ve discovered that script writing is great but being able to influence the audience’s emotions is the bigger reward.


2.  Who are some of your favorite playwrights or writers? Biggest influence?


Favorite comedic playwright?  I have a couple. That’s easy, Neil Simon.  His pieces are timeless.  Mr. Simon’s plays are being produced now and they’re still hilarious.  My other favorite?  Josefina Lopez, I had the opportunity to meet her late last year.  Her tips were priceless.  Her dedication and writing are truly inspiring to me.  I’m blessed to have met her and am forever grateful to Bryant Hernandez for the introduction.   I have a few influences, but one of my biggest is Shel Silverstein.  Silverstein’s The Giving Tree is genius.  That book can be read in probably 15 minutes but the simple words and illustrations are very emotional.  It’s a snack for the soul.


3.  What was the first piece you ever wrote?


It’s titled “Blue” and it was published in grade school.  Mom still has that one stored away somewhere.  Moms have a way of keeping personal treasure don’t they?


4.  What was the first play you ever saw?


I participated in plays during my youth and was fortunate enough to lead in one of my school’s production – but life happened and I faded out of that scene.  Fast forward a few years, I watched a production of “Miss Saigon.”  It was good, but it wasn’t until a few years after, where I watched the play “Moon over Buffalo” by Ken Ludwig at the Chula Vista Playhouse.  It was then that I became completely hooked on theatre.


5.  How did this “modern day love story” centered on social media come to mind?


Social media has its’ place in society now.  It makes the world a smaller place and it’s great.   Unfortunately, at the same time it makes it easy to misrepresent in order to look better.  You can already see the comedy in that, right?


6.  How much of your experience with social media is written into some of the characters in “Perception?”


I’m actually a newbie when it comes to social media. The situations that the characters find them in have been around before the internet.  Social media just magnifies it and makes things happen more quickly.  Before the internet was a mainstay, it was notes being passed in class, word of mouth, and gossip.  That’s where my experience lies. The internet and social media makes this so much more prevalent.


7.   What do you feel about the role of social media and the way it revolves around people’s feelings, passions, relationships and life stories?


It’s easy for people to post their feelings and passions online now.  It’s probably too easy.  There are repercussions out there when posting if you’re not careful.

In terms of relationships, social media has helped some people find their match.  There are commercials that make us believe that right?  (I’m being a little sarcastic here)  I’ve heard and read stories but don’t know how true they are.  Obviously it’s a more efficient way to find someone but I’m a little scared that it’s going to replace romance.  It takes a little of the personal factor out of the relationship equation.  This is my opinion anyway.  If you find happiness online, then by all means be happy. Life is too short to be unsocial.


8.  How did you come up with certain character names?


In the original script I used names of people that I knew so it would make it easier to differentiate between the characters.  With the decisions that these characters make, when a familiar name is used, it helps in deciding the character’s direction.  I changed some of the names later to help the reader visualize who these people are.  For example, in my personal experience, it’s comparable when meeting someone and after getting to know them I tell myself ‘your name totally fits who you are’.


9.  Where would you like to see your talents as a writer take you?


As long as people are willing to be moved,   I’ll take it as far as it will take me.  Though, one of my goals is to write plays about my culture.


10.  Do you have advice for beginning playwrights?


Everybody has their own creative process but here’s a few of mine – be passionate about your topic.  Keep it simple.  Give the actors room to be creative; they will thank you for it.  Set your work aside and breathe when you hit that thing called writer’s block, because it’s guaranteed that will come.  Ensure that your characters are well defined.  If you can write the same line in one sentence that has the same impact with what you’ve originally written in three, then do it. Choose colorful words – the thesaurus is your friend!  Deadlines are stressful but it will bring out the best in you.   Remember, writing is a collaborative.  Don’t be shy to share your work.  Most important, surround yourself with rocks in your life that you can lean on.


I’ve read a fairly recent article about how the demographics of theatre goers are low for the age group 18-40.  In general and maybe not as low in San Diego as in other areas, but it’s alarming to me because theatre is really a gem that this demographic is missing.  I invite everyone to watch this because it’s up to date, funny and it’s magic onstage.  It’s a little different than the usual theatre experience so you’ll be a part of history.  Bring your energy.  Theatre isn’t theatre without an audience.  Plus we’ve all been there.  Trust me, we have!


A very BIG thanks to Kris Clark and the Mesa College Theatre Company for creating this magic.  It was amazing to work with this much talent.


Perception begins showing at the Apolliad Theatre on the Mesa College campus during the weekend dates of March 7through the 9th and March 14th through the 16th. The show times are 7pm for the dates of March 9th and March 16th while the other dates begin at 8pm.


Information about general admission is listed below


  • $5 SDCCD Students/Staff (With I.D.)
  • $5 – Mesa Neighbors (92111 zip code)
  • $8 – Seniors and Military
  • $10 – General Admission