nytheatre.com q&a preview by Brian Miskell
August 31, 2013
What is your job on this show?
What is your show about?
Buckling under the strain her brother and students are putting on her, a young writer and professor struggles to reconcile the successes of her new life with the violence in her past.
What type of theater do you like most to work on?
I love working on new plays. I find collaborating with playwrights, directors, and actors on new work incredibly exciting (although that said, I'm also dying to work on some Chekhov). My soft spot is for plays and productions that explore the weird, awkward, inarticulate side of human nature, and how we behave as we're trying to reach out to other people.
Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
I'm sure other people have said this better than I will, but I love being able to live out a character's story in front of an audience. You don't get that on film. We're all in a room together for 90 minutes, and the audience's energy will affect the show. It's immediate cause and effect, and I feel most connected to the telling of that story when I can do it live, in the moment. Theatre is scary, because anything can happen, but that's what makes it so thrilling when it all comes together. It demands the most risk, and for me, it's yielded the greatest reward.
Is there a particular moment in this show that you really love or look forward to? Without giving away surprises, what happens in that moment and why does it jazz you?
The show has two songs that I love for very different reasons. I don't want to say too much about them. One (composed by Leon Rothenberg) is gorgeous and transcendent and gives me goosebumps every time we hit that moment. And the other is incredibly silly, and hopefully transcendent in its own weird way.
Which character from a Shakespeare play would like your show the best: King Lear, Puck, Rosalind, or Lady Macbeth -- and why?
This question is tricky, because "Stay" has a lot of disparate elements. The easy answer would be Puck, because I think he'd find the magic and mischief in the play delightful, as well as watching the foolishness these mortals get up to. And Jenny Seastone Stern plays a creature that Puck would really take a shine to. But perhaps more importantly, the play is about a woman who has been running away from her past in order to try to make a new life for herself. But eventually she needs to reveal herself completely to someone else, and let herself be seen for who she truly is. Through doing that, she finds love and acceptance, and can finally love and accept herself. I think that Rosalind would identify with a lot of that.
Why are theater festivals so very important?
I think the opportunity for audiences to experience work from a wide variety of artists is very important for a diverse theatre community. You get a range of perspectives, voices, styles. But what's so unique about this festival that Rattlestick is doing, is that you're getting to spend five plays in one playwright's world. There's five different directors, five casts, and the plays show the main character in different locations and stages of her life, all of which gives you a deep insight into who she has become. Across the festival, you follow a girl from a poverty-stricken household in rural Massachusetts through five points of her journey out of that town, as a child, a teenager, a college student, a grad student, and a professor. By the time you get to "Stay," the different vantage points have given you an incredible amount of context for the ugliness and abuse in her past, but also the desperate love. You know where she's come from, and what it will cost for her to move on. It's rare and remarkable to get a chance to see a world in such depth, and it takes a theater like Rattlestick and a playwright like Lucy Thurber to make that possible.