Monday, September 29, 2014

Joseph Haj Makes the Case for Co-Directing

PlayMakers' own Joesph Haj recently published an article in American Theatre discussing co-directing. Over the past few years, Joesph has co-directing a number of PlayMakers productions, including: Nicholas Nickleby with Tom QuaintanceHenry IV, Parts I and II and Henry V with Mike Donahue, and The Tempest and Metamorphoses with Dominique Serrand, during last year's Rep. He will be co-directing again during this year's repertory performances of Into the Woods and A Midsummer Night's Dream with Shana Cooper.
PlayMakers'  "Henry V," co-directed by Joseph Haj and Mike Donahue. (Photo by Jon Gardiner)
To read Joesph's article, visit American Theatre's website.


Make sure to see 2014/15 Season's repertory performances of Into the Woods and A Midsummer Night's Dream at PlayMakers November 1 - December 7. For tickets, call 919.962.PLAY (7529) or visit our website.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Durang on Chekhov/Durang on Durang

Anton Chekhov
“I had the idea to write Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike a few years ago, when I realized that I was now the age that Vanya was (or seemed to be). And, like Vanya and other Chekhov characters, I started to reassess choices made in the past. I live in a stone farmhouse with my partner, the writer-actor John Augustine, on a small hill in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I choose to live here for the quiet and the trees, and there is a small pond where a blue heron comes and sees what is available to eat. But I started to think to myself, what if I didn’t live here with my partner but with my adopted sister, and the two of us had spent 15 years taking care of our elderly and eventually incoherent parents. What if we never left the house we lived in as children, and felt jealous of our older sister, who was a glamorous stage and film star? She sends us money, but our lives feel empty and unexciting. What if my life had been closer to a Chekhov play?
By the way, I also have cherry trees around the house. About nine of them, I’d say. Very pretty two weeks a year.

My play is not a parody. It is set in the present day. Once I finished the first draft, I started to say to people, “The play takes Chekhov characters and themes and puts them into a blender.”  

--Christopher Durang

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will be performed at PlayMakers through October 5, 2014. For tickets, call 919.962.PLAY (7529) or visit our website.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Christian Daly makes his PlayMakers debut

Christian Daly is making his PlayMakers debut in our Mainstage opener, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. He performs the role of Spike in this Chekhov-inspired comedy by Christopher Durang.

Christian Daly in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. (photo by Jon Gardiner)

When asked what he enjoyed about his first time on the PlayMakers’ stage, Christian responded, “My favorite thing about my first time at PlayMakers is obviously the people. It would be hard to find a more talented and humble group of actors, directors, and technicians. Not to mention the Paul Green Theatre is such a fun space to play in.” He loves working with director Libby Appel, the Artistic Director Emerita of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He says, “our director has such a maternal energy she makes the space feel so safe for myself and the other actors. Such a wonderful quality for a director!”


Christian Daly

The character Spike is a wannabe actor and Masha’s boy toy. Christian explains, “Working on Spike has been a rush if only because most of the time he is completely unaware of the consequences of his own actions. He lives in a sort of clown world, which in my experience quadruples the amount of freedom an actor has on stage.”
 
Christian Daly as Spike. (photo by Curtis Brown)

Christian, a proud graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, was recently in Sanguine Theater Company’s New York premiere of Exit 27 and the Dutch indie film All Those Sunflowers, following on appearing as Romeo in Cygnet Theatre’s premiere of Joe Calarco’s Shakespeare’s R&J.


Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will be performed at PlayMakers through October 5, 2014. For tickets, call 919.962.PLAY (7529) or visit our website.

Friday, September 19, 2014

About "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike"

ARIELLE YODER as Nina (standing), JULIE FISHELL as Masha, CHRISTIAN DALY as Spike, JEFFEY BLAIR CORNELL as Vanya and JULIA GIBSON as  (Photo by Jon Gardiner)
As Christopher Durang points out, Anton Chekhov’s work appears both under and on top of the text of his Tony Award-winning play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. There are numerous parallels, quite beyond the three siblings and their neighbor Nina’s names, to Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, The Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard, and Seagull. At the same time, however, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is quite clearly Durang not Chekhov. 

Where Chekhov gives us a deeply perceptive human comedy, Durang romps through the lives of his characters with a different sensibility. It is a U.S.-based gusto and brio that draws heavily upon contemporary culture both for its laughs and its poignancy. Durang understands Mark Twain’s comment that “the source of all humor is sorrow” and carefully roots the ridiculous aspects and actions of his characters in a deep comprehension of the Dark Night of Their Souls. Durang also understands Chekhov’s statement, “men dine, they just dine—and in that moment lives collapse, and worlds are destroyed,” with its profound insight that the truly important events in our lives happen without our noticing them. We live them, we don’t comment upon them.  It is only years later, perhaps lying on the analyst’s couch, that we begin to comprehend the confluence of our own actions, attitudes, and emotions that created those moments and their repercussions.  

JEFFREY BLAIR CORNELL as Vanya and ARIELLE YODER as Nina. (Photo by Jon Gardiner)
What Durang creates in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a contemporary, funny, dysfunctional family with--like all families--its own particular rhythm.  In the process the play investigates what it is to be human, what it is to be in a relationship, what it is to be in a family, what it is to have meaning in your life.  Perhaps the most fulfilled life is the one in which a person is capable of stopping: sitting and watching the elegance and stillness of Durang’s blue heron perched majestically on one long leg as it surveys the pond and searches for its next meal.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will be performed at PlayMakers September 17, 2014 - October 5, 2014. For tickets, call 919.962.PLAY (7529) or visit our website.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike: dress rehearsal

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike opens this Saturday! Here are some photos from the dress rehearsal last night.

 JULIE FISHELL as Masha and CHRISTIAN DALY as Spike. (Photo by Jon Gardiner)
JULIE FISHELL as Masha. (Photo by Jon Gardiner)
 ARIELLE YODER as Nina, JULIE FISHELL as Masha, CHRISTIAN DALY as Spike (standing), JEFFEY BLAIR CORNELL as Vanya and JULIA GIBSON as Sonia (in background).  (Photo by Jon Gardiner)
ARIELLE YODER as Nina, JULIE FISHELL as Masha and CHRISTIAN DALY as Spike. (Photo by Jon Gardiner)
JEFFEY BLAIR CORNELL as Vanya, ARIELLE YODER as Nina and JULIA GIBSON as Sonia. (Photo by Jon Gardiner)
JEFFREY BLAIR CORNELL as Vanya and JULIA GIBSON as Sonia. (Photo by Jon Gardiner)
 KATHRYN HUNTER-WILLIAMS as Cassandra. (Photo by Jon Gardiner)


KATHRYN HUNTER-WILLIAMS as Cassandra and JEFFREY BLAIR CORNELL as Vanya. (Photo by Jon Gardiner)

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will be performed at PlayMakers September 17, 2014 - October 5, 2014. For tickets, call 919.962.PLAY (7529) or visit our website.