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Uncommon Women and Others

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Madeline Sayet
February 11, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Director.

What is your show about?
Wendy Wasserstein's first play gives us a look into the lives of a group of young women at Mount Holyoke College in the early 1970s, and their reunion six years later.

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
I became addicted to Shakespeare at the age of 7, and his characters became my faerie tale princes and princesses. Since then the real world has had a hard time competing.

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
Theatre is a community event. Sure, a show can run for years, but it is alive and its always changing. In the case of Wendy Wasserstein's "Uncommon Women and Others," I find the intimacy of the theatre to be one of the most important aspects of the show. When the characters sit up late at college chatting with their best friends, we get a glimpse at private conversations in the 1970s that are both intimate and immediate. I don't think that another medium can really capture that the same way.

How did you meet your fellow artists/collaborators on this show?
The Mad and Merry Theatre Company initially met doing an all female production of "Measure for Measure" at NYU. When we chose "Uncommon Women and Others" for our season, part of the excitement came from finally working together on a show where everyone would be playing women for a change. It gives the actors a greater challenge. By telling a story about characters closer to ourselves, we are all forced to look at ourselves a little closer, and how little has changed since the 1970s when this play was written.

Which famous person would you most like to get a fan letter from: Meryl Streep, Lindsay Lohan, Steven Spielberg, Philip Seymour Hoffman?
A fan letter from Meryl Streep on this particular production would be pretty epic. She performed in it early in her career, so I would like to hear what she has to say. Glenn Close played the role before her, and I would have liked to see that as well.

How important is diversity to you in the theater you see/make?
Diversity in the theater is extremely important to me. If theater is a reflection of society and a tool for changing it, it has to be made up of everyone. Theater is one of the most important mediums for allowing an audience to experience another point of view. When "Uncommon Women" debuted, the female experience had not been so openly explored on stage. It paved the way for more complex female stories. One thing that is interesting about this play is how clearly race is actually written into each character, even though all the women are privileged enough to be at a liberal arts college. I also work with Amerinda Inc. on new Native Theatre pieces, and I believe that self-representation and diversity is the key to decreasing stereotypes in theatre. For that reason an all female company working on "Uncommon Women and Others" is as important as an all Native company working on a new Native theatre piece. If men are still the ones telling us how to be women, how will we ever find ourselves.