nytheatre.com q&a preview by Alice Barrett Mitchell
September 18, 2012
What is your job on this show?
When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
When I was 10 years old I saw the Off-Broadway production of "Man of La Mancha" starring Richard Kiley and Joan Deiner. There's a moment toward the end of the play where Aldonza roots her feet to the ground, raises her arms into the air and lets out a primal scream. It was the most thrilling moment of female power I had ever seen and I made up my mind then and there that I wanted to do that.
What was the last show you saw that really excited you, and why?
I was lucky enough to see so many good shows over the past few years; "Clybourne Park," Venus in Fur," "Stick Fly," "Wit." But an experience that will always be an all-time favorite was seeing Mark Rylance in "Jerusalem." I'm not even sure I can tell you what the play was about. I just know that once again I had that sensation of being witness to something extraordinary, the heart beating a little faster, sitting on the edge of your seat, breathless. A moment that you can only have in theatre. I've seen him in three shows now and I'll see him in anything.
In your own words, what do you think this show is about? What will audiences take away with them after seeing it?
I think the show is about being on the edge of monumental change and the un-ease, the disturbance, the "doubt" that that causes. Shanley has set the play in 1964 which was a time of so much upheaval. Kennedy had just been killed, the Beatles were newly on the scene, the civil rights movement was in full swing, and in the Catholic Church, Vatican II was under way. In my opinion, the plot of the nun vs. the priest is a microcosm of everything that was going on at the time. I hope the audience will take away from the play the ability to question their certainties, to allow for a little doubt in how they've always viewed the world. In doing my research on the play, I've had to reconsider much of what I've always believed and while that can be unsettling, it can be a tremendous opportunity for growth.
Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
SMART! What I love about this play is how deceptively smart it is. Shanley has this amazing ability to be economical in his words and very conversational with the dialogue and at the same time have so much going on. I'm constantly amazed at how many levels this play is operating on.
Who are your heroes?
My heroes are people who stand up for the underdogs and people who work towards justice, fairness and equality. Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger, Helen Keller, to name a few. Strong and compassionate people who believe in the inherent dignity of everyone.