Tag Archives: acting

THE WORLD IS (ROUND) WIDE ENOUGH

 

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Honestly if I hadn’t seen Hamilton last night there possibly could have been an unconscious cloud-shaped vapor lingering over me the rest of my life. Honestly as a person-of-the-theatre or even just as a New York pedestrian I was starting to feel like something was gravely wrong – and it was – I was totally missing out.

 

Good news is that this little New York ant (me) is now one of the many masses who rounded onto West 46th street in order to SEE HAMILTON! When I was in line I really felt like part of a super-organism or something…

 

First thing you should know about this rendition of events is that I am a lottery cynic. Know that this arises from a history of lottery losses. The last time I was enlisted to buy lotto tickets, on behalf of a brother, I reported back that I’d self-checked them at the convenience store machine. Instead of ‘success!’ I’d regurgitated the “You Are Not A Winner” that had streamed through my consciousness 15 times. Needless to say I don’t like revisiting that sensation – yoga mantras are more highly recommended!

 

So as I was mulling over some new headshots and planning a night of reading plays and potential monologue finding/learning and maybe even some non-dairy ice cream devouring… I got a text from a, now proven loyal, friend named D’ariel Barnard

 

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Dear D’ariel had played the online Hamilton lottery a steady 6 weeks before finally arriving at the 2 tickets that got us in the door yesterday evening.

 

As I tracked the leader’s footsteps towards our seats I was in a bit of eerily silent shock due to the marching to Broadway on such short notice having not expected to be ‘in the room where it happens’. As soon as I breathed in the space, however, I began to realize what a pleasure this was going to be. The set is simple, yet intricate with its warm brick walls, strong wooden beams, connecting ropes and mysterious entranceways along its parameters. “Such a large, mobile cast must require this,” I thought before seeing any action.

 

I turned off my cell phone… YES to turning off cell phones in theatres people…

 

The action began and what struck me most, apart from the obvious talent on stage, was the revealing of these historical figures as flesh and blood before my very eyes. The strength of the relationships the Hamilton cast creates on stage is really astounding. Each human interaction stands on it’s own very specific terms. In that sense I began to see what might have been in the hearts and imaginings of the daunting faces that I might normally only glance at when forking over United States’ minted paper for some groceries at my local bodega…

 

What unexpectedly touched me most, I think, in this well-oiled musical has to be the vulnerability of the antagonist Aaron Burr (Sydney James Harcourt). In the intermission I found myself confessing that Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda) was so easy to root for. I was with him every step of the way as he climbed the ladder and got Washington in his pocket. I rooted for his relationships to resolve themselves peacefully. I empathized with his conflicting emotions at every turn in his life. It is odd, however, that the character whose actions I couldn’t forgive (he antagonizes Alexander Hamilton the most) turned out to be the character I felt the most compassion for – Aaron Burr. Isn’t that odd?

 

I thought about why and I now know that it has to do with what Burr discovered through his grave mistakes. It’s interesting. Burr discovers something Hamilton inherently knew, something the other characters grappled with but overcame… that the world is wide enough. Any actor in an audition room shuffles through it, any young professional intern in a boardroom meeting seethes through it, any little New York ant waiting in the box office line knows it – it’s an oh so familiar competition with people placed in a similar position and often striving for a similar widget…

 

The play reminded me to strive for what Burr longed for in his ‘private moments made public’… to choose love more. I’m sure it’s hiding within those uniquely competitive relationships where I least expected it. It got me wondering along with Burr – what if he’d thrived on harnessing those competitive relationships?

 

Hamilton’s got me feeling small, or rather, unexpanded. New York theatre and acting teachers have harnessed my ability to live in curiosity about the people around me – to take in all of it and carve out windows for the shoes and souls of others. In my voice class today with Julia Lenardon I had a fellow actor’s hands supporting my back so I could experience the expansion of my ribs when I breathe. What if I thought of the world more like that – good and bad resistance & healthy competition – all of it is something to push against, or release into?

 

THE WORLD IS (ROUND) WIDE ENOUGH.

 

Maybe I can incorporate that?

 

At the very least I did touch the gold paint on the wall of the Richard Rodgers Theatre before I left the front row of House Left to ground myself in reality – I was there – with a fellow little New York ant (THANKS D’ARIEL)!

 

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“WHAT WILL WE DO WITH THE KING’S HEART?”

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“What will we do with the King’s Heart?”

The possibility-packed question becomes the responsibility of Thomas Cromwell (Ben Miles), a lawyer and advisor to King Henry VIII (Nathaniel Parker) in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Part I: Wolf Hall and Part II: Bring Up The Bodies directed by Jeremy Herrin and playing in repertory at New York’s Winter Garden Theatre.

I began in a box for Part I and then scored some dream-like seats (second row) in the orchestra for Part II. Initially what struck me was the great casting of the plays by Helena Palmer CDG. The roles that each character had to play in the kingdom became clear throughout the play due to that casting. I was never distracted from the story in this respect and there’s not an actor in the ensemble that I didn’t love for that reason!

There was a prominent advisor, Cromwell, the hand maneuvering the pieces on the chessboard influencing every direct decision the King makes and controlling the actions of any person who affects the King. There was a lot of conflict (you might say drama) with potential male-heir bearer queen wives (King VIII goes through several unsuccessfully). There is a removed fatherhood role the King takes in his own daughter’s lives (legitimate and illegitimate). There are soldiers, servants, maids, messengers and others. As the plays progressed I started to see how much power Cromwell wielded by being next-to the prominence of the King and leading him through marriages and a search for a woman who could bear a royal son.

I mainly find stories about royalty compelling because there are interesting and dynamic power wielding struggles and strategies being employed by the characters. I can’t say I find this one particularly romantic, in the female perspective, that’s for sure! There are no real heroines written into it…. even so, I liked observing Cromwell playing the love. It is surprising because although he begins in low status in life, and his job is a dark one making decisions to place harm upon others in order to protect the King… at times I was able to see his humanity and this made him a star. I started to see why his presence is necessary in nearly every scene. In order to tell the story of King Henry VIII the man who largely influenced the writing of that story is required – Cromwell – a man with an acute ability to pay attention to detail.

One image of Cromwell ‘playing the love’ that stays with me is when his youngest son Gregory (Daniel Fraser) waltzes onstage in a soldier’s uniform ready to go to battle with the King. Cromwell stands just behind him delicately touching the metal armor as if it was just a costume on a baby – but instead of pulling him out of harm’s way – he tries to compel the King to keep his son safe instead. It’s actually heartbreaking to watch; particularly because the well-known story begins with the death of Cromwell’s female family members.

Oh the costumes! Christopher Oram‘s costume design is another main reason to watch a period piece like Wolf Hall. The stage is minimal – a large mass of grey grounding that occasionally has fire roaring up through it (real flames – my jaw actually dropped in Act I like a child!) It is, therefore, the costumes and the imaginations and voices of the players that fill in the blanks of the story. The difference between a queen’s layers and robes and the more simple dress of the numerous maids following her is notable. The contrast of the simple design of Cromwell’s, often darker, clothing and the King’s elaborate velvet speaks to status as well.

It is the stripping of title and status in the lives of the women that spoke to me the most (being a woman myself). As unlikeable as Queen Anne (Lydia Leonard) is in her thirst for power and status… when she’s being taken down and her expectation of assistance with her daily tasks and her habitual action (use of her maids) is taken away from her I watched her realize that she had no choice but to crumble in silence and stillness. It is difficult to watch someone lose what they love most – with Cromwell the possibility of losing his son could leave him with no true loving relationships in life – only the cold reality of the pawns he uses around him. With Queen Anne the loss of her status is difficult to watch because it is only in attachment to the King that a woman seems to be able to protect her and her family’s interests in King Henry VIII’s world – whether the woman be innocent or savvy.

There is resolution of the question of the King’s heart by the end of the play… but I’ll remain silent on this end.

All the characters in this production are based on real people pulled up out of history and the actors breathed life into them. It was truly amazing to watch and educational too!

Next mission – check out another acting HERO of mine, Mark Rylance, in the television adaptation of Wolf Hall!

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O, THE TRAGEDY!

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It is intimidating to talk about Hamlet, let alone play it, so I almost didn’t write this post. I wouldn’t have missed the Off-Broadway production though, directed by Austin Pendleton, a person I respect after having taken just a few scene study sessions with him last year. It seems, however, that I see his picture and name around town a lot in some way with almost every theatre I’ve treaded into in New York. It makes me feel that I’m walking in his footsteps along the carpets and studio floors and like he’s possibly thought all the thoughts I’m thinking now (also I know he does because he rambles about the ups and downs of his life in the theatre to make his students laugh and relate to him in class). That is partly why I wouldn’t have missed a production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet yesterday at the Classic Stage Company that involved Pendleton.

As I walked into the theatre to sit down I noticed that the set was modernized and the ceiling was draped with white flowers accented by purple light.  The play starts within a void, a ghostly father, and yet the remnants of the premature celebration of Gertrude & Claudius’ wedding remained throughout every scene distracting from the very invisible but apparent void. The flowers seem to foreshadow that by the end of the play Ophelia, played by Lisa Joyce, will remain hovering over the rest of the players at her funeral.

I was moved by this production – very moved. Perhaps I’m getting older or something (I inevitably am) but everything – all the thoughts of death lingering underneath the white wedding flowers, the beauty and frailty of every relationship in the play plagued by an underlying mistrust or ignorance of human nature… its tragedy was much more unfortunate to me this time round. In this play most of the characters are fighting for something other than love (except Ophelia) – even if their actions might be born of love and loss – it’s difficult to watch. It’s not that Claudius, or Hamlet, or Polonius or Gertrude seem to start out as bad people but eventually a series of sinister actions, revelations and inability to correct bad circumstances cloud their complex characters.

It was odd to hear Good Ol’ Bill‘s language fragmented at times. Hamlet would pause and point somewhere and think and then say something else. It’s daring to experiment with Shakespeare’s natural rhythm and many would scorn at it. I can admire an experiment with heightened text, however, only if I still understand everything that is being said and every event that is happening on stage. I was able to follow and the story was still clear to me despite the departure from a use of Shakespeare’s rhythm that generally helps me when I’m running it over myself. The language was still able to move me with metaphor and to reveal truths about the characters so I was not opposed by the experiment in this particular production.

Hamlet, played by Peter Sarsgaard, surprised me because he was the first character to bring me to tears. (I’m a sucker for grief so that immediately got me… his father dying… but there was some unsentimental, invisible thing that clutched at me too). Within the opening scene of the play I noticed that his Hamlet did not feel like a victim – or if he did he hid it. Instead, his victimhood simply resonated inside as he lashed out at the people around him. His vulnerability surfaced through cracks in his bad behavior and I pitied him – but not because I wanted to. I wanted to be angry at him for getting stuck, for not choosing love over thoughts of revenge, and for crushing Ophelia. Instead I just stared at him from the audience completely crumpled and unraveled by default. By observing Hamlet sitting like an eggshell that no one dares crack I understood Ophelia’s pain better.

I didn’t expect to like Polonius, played by Stephen Spinella, but when a character always thinks he is going to win if he does this, or does that, or reasons a little better this time, or is a little cleverer next time it starts to become humorous. I saw the frailty of a flawed character that in plotting and looking towards the best interests of his family committed actions that actually did not tend to his daughter’s real emotional needs. I couldn’t fault him for his efforts – even though they were faulty. Polonius seemed to pull the wool over his own eyes and the unintentional consequence of losing not only his daughter’s mind, but her person, seemed too great in proportion.

In relation to the ensemble I can say that they were all living in the same world, although they all had their own very different intentions, and this I enjoyed. It is the invisible work of the director to achieve this coordination! At times in the Second Act I felt the need for focus to shift more appropriately from one character to another to reveal plot points, but that goes more to timing and theatre is a live interchange where things can change from night to night – and should.

I got the sense, and this is true of most accounts of most performances, the characters will deepen during the run of the show and become more and more specific and personal. I am left with a deeply personal sense of a group of frail human beings suspended underneath the actions of the play. Even though it was Ophelia whose mind left her body before she left a world that was written to be too dark to accept her love… I craved for the petals of the flowers on the ceiling to shower down on the rest of the characters to relieve them from their own blind misfortune.

O, the tragedy!

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PERCHES IN THE SOUL

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The first time I saw the one-woman play, The Belle of Amherst, by William Luce I left with an ‘artgasm’ a.k.a (also known as) the jello-like feeling that can overtake a person after experiencing delightful work and art. The second time I took the performance in was tonight and I felt, instead, acceptance of great work; rather than the initial “un-belief” of something too good to be true. A play about a favorite poetess… Emily Dickinson.

It is rare that I scrounge around, by that I mean wait tables, to pay for two performances of a show. I couldn’t, however, get this one at the Westside Theatre off my mind. After all, if you were invited into the home of the reclusive poet Emily Dickinson once… wouldn’t you return? That is how I feel too – that I’ve finally met E. Dickinson in the flesh after years of merely admiring our meeting of the minds.

Joely Richardson laid the foundation of her character by looking through the eyes, and speaking the speech, of an American (she is actually from the U.K.).  I can imagine that taking on such a different rhythm must have been a way into the life of this 19th century poet for Richardson. What impressed me best was Richardson’s specific personalization of the language. I could see the people and the images that Richardson was referring to because every word and relationship she referred to meant something real to her.  Lesson learned for me… IF your character actually says, “Now there’s a word to lift your hat to?” and gets ‘artgasms’ from words like “Massachusetts” or “circumference” THEN it is likely she is in the practice of preparing the language escaping her lips carefully and with passion and love.

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day

A concern of mine in reflecting on this play was that I couldn’t have seen the play when it originated with Julie Harris in 1976.  Of course I would have liked to compare the productions.  I did overhear a patron walking out of the theatre in front of me state that he had seen the original production with Harris and he found Richardson’s performance to be enjoyable and “great”.  This is about as close as I’ll get to the comparison and I believe him!*

It is a difficult task to be the only actor on stage and to keep a play moving for approximately 100 minutes. The variation between Dickinson’s speaking directly to the audience and delving into imaginative role-playing and reliving of experiences with people in her life led me to be quite moved when the times came for her to actually recite her own poems. According to her environment, I witnessed the poems arise from Dickinson’s mind and words begin to dance in her view.  It was the representation of the movement of time, or the stopping of it, on the clock in her living room that spoke to her.  It was the way that people speculated on her choice to wear white clothing all the time that sparked her clever curiosity.  It was the way the birds drank water in her garden that lived in her chest.  It was the attachment to her nephew calling the place of ‘Aunt Emily’ home that moved her.

Dickinson’s recognition of her ability to separate her observance of life and her living of it also surfaced in her poems. The hundreds of poems tucked away in a wooden chest were compelled by a life and inspired by the people’s lives that she observed around her. Dickinson may have been considered to have ‘hid’ from the world more than is average but it seems to me that she made the most of her time in it.  I hope that it would have comforted Dickinson to know that it was her observance of life and her living of it together that resonates with people like me today.  I too have lost loved ones, I too have kept secrets locked in chest, I too have exploded with emotion as well as hid from it, I too can hear music in the wind invisibly lifting my soul, and I too have been given hope by words carefully chosen to lift Dickinson’s soul through time towards my own.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—



And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—



I’ve heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.

(*It turns out you CAN see the Julie Harris production, which is available on Netflix, and it’s brilliant!)

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THE MAIDS – WIELDING SPIT INTO DIAMONDS

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DISCLAIMER: I have self-diagnosed Cate-Blanchett-ology!

FACT: I attended Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Jean Genet’s, The Maids. First in the balcony right on August 9th and next in the Orchestra left on August 12th, 2014 located at the New York City Center as part of the Lincoln Center Festival.

BONUS: During Q&A sessions I spoke with The Director of the Sydney Theatre Company, Andrew Upton, the Director, Benedict Andrews, and the cast of the play Elizabeth Debicki, Isabelle Huppert and Cate Blanchett.

Happy to report that I AM INSPIRED!

Why attend a play about murder, sex and death? Despite those themes being quite dramatic and drawing crowds through the ages, I really couldn’t resist an opportunity to watch Blanchett, an acting HERO of mine, at work!

Both Blanchett and Huppert have quite a bit of experience (and award collection) for delving into challenging material. In fact, when I prompted Andrews about what he respects most in a creative collaboration he described casting the entire ensemble because of their, “willingness to go all the way, to not be lazy, to ask big questions [and] to make big offers”.

First steps of developing the play involved the chic set design by Alice Babidge and the employing of 10 cameras to monitor it. I was intrigued, but not sold on the cameras at first. The cameras captured close ups of objects on stage, unattractive facial expressions of the actresses in moments of distress, and even the mistress’ toilet use. Debicki described the cameras as being “surveillance-ish” and that she “started to enjoy how ugly and horrible it can be to get your face really close to the mirror”.  Andrews provided a “construction on the stage” for the actresses to work around. He mentioned their effort to use the theatre to turn reality inside out and as “an interrogation of the performance… and what the piece is about”.  Once I realized how relevant the hunting out of these character’s flaws is to the society we live in, where people’s lives can be sought at the touch of a button, I warmed to the multimedia aspect of this performance.

On its surface the piece is about two sisters (Solange/Huppert and Claire/Blanchett) who work as maids for a very wealthy, and younger, Mistress/Debicki. The sisters have developed a habit of reaching a state of euphoria by role-playing the mistress and mimicking her gestures and lifestyle. They ritualistically wear her expensive clothes, make-up and jewels without her knowledge and even plot to murder her.  The mistress’ flowers became the maid’s whips to play with power when no one is looking.  By clowning around with each other in places where an onlooker might initially feel fear, disgust, anger or sadness in response to the criminal nature of the sisters’ actions the humor managed to make a theatre of over 2000 people continuously laugh!

As the characters delved deeper into the play I experienced more serious comments on society begin to unfold.  I started to care for the characters being portrayed on stage. They made me laugh so that in a moment where Claire collapses out of her role-playing game and calls for her older sister out of shame and sheer exhaustion my molecules were changed.  I felt her pain.  As an audience member I was inadvertently asked to look past the danger of empathizing with a person committing crime and to look at her human condition of suffering instead.

Andrews reminded me that, “something concrete is actually happening… these two women, these two sisters, live in insufferable conditions and are the lowest of the low. From that position… objection… humiliation and shame… from that terrible necessity, that powerlessness, they invent this ritual… this hatred for the woman that oppresses them”.

Blanchett found it important to search out truth in, not only her character’s smaller gestures, but her grand gestures as well. An example she offered is people on reality television shows, “they believe it… they’re very aware of being watched and I think that’s what we harness is that sometimes we become excessive when we think someone’s watching us”.

Naturally there was a lot of curiosity into Blanchett’s process of preparation for this role.  I’m sure I was grinning when Blanchett said she loves rehearsal because so do I!  She said, “the material and the people in the room dictate what you have to do. I don’t have any one process, it’s sort of a bastard process really, theater is a bastard form, it’s a bit of dance…musical… tragedy… comedy… pop-culture… high art, and I think it depends on the piece you’re working on what you have to do”.

It can be refreshing to know, and exciting to accept that challenge, that an actor has multiple ways into a character.  Each new character might demand something new to be discovered and exploded during the rehearsal process and then shared with the world.

In terms of the physical and emotional demands placed on an actor Blanchett assured that “actors usually do 8 shows a week and you get ‘show fit’ during the course of rehearsing, not like you’re going from a standing start”.  The actresses in this play spent 18 weeks in rehearsal in order to fully use the stage to carry out complicated and detailed physical choreography.  They run, crawl, jump, roll, spit, punch each other and have severe emotional breakdowns for a 1 hour and 45 minute show with no intermission.

“I love the way Beno [as Blanchett calls Andrews] works because as a director he’s got a very clear framework, but as he always says … if you leave the room with your first idea you’ve sort of screwed up in a way, so he’s willing for actors to throw everything at him to see what sticks”.

Andrews reflected that, “theater is the place where we can dangerously think about questions like… what is society? What is culture? What is class? What are the values?”

In a world where I am witnessing technology having the ability to remove us from human contact and emotional accountability to each other I really do appreciate a mounting of Genet’s play.  It is worth a shot at examining why Solange and Claire do what they do- whether that be what they do when no one is looking or how they change when submitting to the powers-that-be in their life.  It is interesting and requires that the actors reserve all judgment of the characters being played.  A challenge that I witnessed this ensemble meet in The Maids.

 

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NEW YORK – AN ACTOR’S PLAYGROUND

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Inspiration is possible everywhere I go (and is often free).  Yet, it has been made particularly possible for me to be inspired in New York City.  I really have found it to be a playground for theatre where I find world-famous actors up on fancy, bright stages. I also find extremely talented actors in tiny studio theatres simply sharing experiences to inspire each other.

I tagged along to a talk-back event tonight with Kathleen McNenny, Joanna Adler and Stark Sands for the Tom Todoroff Summer Intensive Program at Shetler Studios.  I realized that it is valuable to take the time to share experiences as actors (whether students, recent conservatory graduates, or experienced stage and film actors).

Why am I inspired? What did I learn?

“My job is to audition” I heard Kathleen say before jetting out of the theatre. We all love this woman. Being the Masks teacher at the Tom Todoroff Conservatory it is easy to forget that this down-to-earth person who gives her heart to her students really does pound the pavement every day as an actor.  It can actually be discouraging to realize that my whole life will be such an active pursuit of work; but Kathleen embodies staying positive and loving what we do as actors WHICH IS TO AUDITION!

Both Stark and Joanna reiterated her statement.  Auditioning is the heart of what we do.  It was notable for me to hear these actors state this in front a quiet, yet strong presence in the corner, Tom Todoroff, who carries on the legacy of Michael Shurtleff’s book The Audition.  Having worked through audition guideposts in Tom’s classes myself (and believe-you-me he is a stickler for them) I know that he’d agree with this statement on auditioning.

In terms of actors fresh out of Conservatory training (like me) part of the struggle is just to get auditions in order to exercise the chops.  I liked hearing Joanna trace back her various jobs and all the times that she said “YES” to an internship with a non-profit arts agency, had tea or lunch with another actor or a director and then noticing that it led to an audition, and even a job.  Hearing her speak I thought, “there is method to the madness of this business!”  Joanna shared that, “this business is uncertain for everyone. I accept that I am a part of this chaos.  I paid my conEdison bill and therefore I can let it go!”

We are all people looking for work and in order to collaborate I am first required to seek out relationship and community and then say YES to opportunities as they come.  Just like every actor that has come before me- and just like Joanna and Stark!

The last time I’d seen Stark was on one of those big fancy stages playing the lead in the musical Kinky Boots. Tonight he mentioned having done 400 performances with that show.  Having gained success so early in his career both in the theatre and in film I was definitely taking down notes from him.  One interesting point he made was that even as an actor who has made New York City his home-base he always has to be open to job opportunities in other cities.

On being prepared for auditions Stark shared that his process involves getting off-book (learning the lines of the script/scene) before the audition. It helps him to have “lived in the skin of the character for a while”.  He makes strong choices for his auditions and then must be malleable to take direction in the room.

In parting I’ll be letting these simple new mantras ring in my head for a while:

MY JOB AS AN ACTOR IS TO AUDITION.

I PREPARE.

I PAY SERVICE TO THE TEXT.

I LOVE WHAT I DO. 

 

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When We Were Young And Unafraid

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I was inspired to write about an ensemble of actors, Cherry Jones, Morgan Saylor, Zoe Kazan, Patch Darragh and Cherise Boothe because I watched them bring a play to life about a subject that matters – Violence Against Women. Tonight I saw When We Were Young And Unafraid, written by Sarah Treem and directed by Pam MacKinnon at the Manhattan Theatre Club, New York City Center Stage I. The play takes place at an underground women’s shelter, disguised as a Bed & Breakfast, run by Agnes (Cherry Jones) as she raises her teenage daughter Penny (Morgan Saylor).

I was mainly astounded to notice that when actors do the work to find the universals in their characters I am able to see a part of myself in all of them regardless of the their personality or phase of life.

Penny is a teenage girl learning how to balance her desire for education and her desire for love… something I have definitely been through! It was a pleasure to witness Saylor confidently open up the play by displaying intelligence and humor in her discussions about school and boys with her not-so-conventional mother. The humor found in the mother-daughter banter released me from any suspicion that their Bed & Breakfast was also a refuge for women seeking shelter from violence.

Agnes is a strong willed ex-nurse who shelters battered women and hides a broken heart. Empathy is easily felt for a woman who is so seemingly put together and yet is in such need of care and attention after years of putting everyone else’s needs first. As an actor myself, it was a great learning experience for me to witness Emmy and two-time Tony award winner Cherry Jones handle very emotionally charged material with strength, love and guarded vulnerability while expertly maintaining a grounded voice and presence.

Mary Anne is a young women fleeing a violent marriage and struggling to find strength even though the world finds her to seem very weak. In Kazan’s portrayal of a very vulnerable Mary Anne it was a relief to find humor and a strong will to grow. In finding the lightness of her character, Kazan still played the severe truth of her painful parting from a childhood sweat heart turned abusive while suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Mary Anne represents the reason why I sense this play was written – an insight into the beauty of the human will to survive despite the dual nature of humanity towards both destruction and development. As a female Mary Anne allowed me to reflect on the importance of using my voice and to surround myself with healthy and supportive friends, family and community.

Speaking of community, the other characters in the play deserve a mention. Hannah (Cherise Boothe) is a college student sorting through a feminist revolution with humor and a strong voice while performing odd jobs around the Bed & Breakfast. Boothe’s use of the space/stage was very impressive and made her seem to represent the West Coast ocean breeze sweeping in through doors and windows to provide news and much needed love. In appreciation of regularity and of men… there was Paul (Patch Darragh) a sappy, wondering song writer who discovers that he just wants to lead a simple life and to have someone to share it with. His character’s ordinariness provided comic relief from the extraordinariness and turmoil of the female relationships leading the play.

I would recommend that people see this play because it is not just entertaining, but it is also an important play. It reminded me that many women suffer from violence and that “everyone deserves a chance” to build herself up again.

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