In part two of a series of interviews with the cast of The City of Conversation meet Rebecca Gift.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where local audiences have seen you recently on the stage?
My name is Rebecca Gift and I am fairly new to the Annapolis area. My most recent work was playing Gretchen in last year’s production of Boeing, Boeing.
Why did you want to be part of the cast of The City of Conversation?
I auditioned for City because I wanted something that would get me out of my comfort zone and give me a chance to grow. I have primarily done musicals and comedies, so a dramatic, political piece seemed like a good challenge.
Who do you play in the show? How do you relate to him or her? What traits do you share? Does this character remind you of a similar character that you have played before?
I play Anna Fitzgerald, Colin’s very Republican wife. I thought I would have trouble playing such a staunch conservative, as I am a very moderate politically. However, I was surprised to find that I could identify with her passion and down right stubbornness more than I realized. You really learn about yourself when you can identify with a character so different from yourself.
What is The City of Conversation about from the point of view of your character?
For Anna, these points in time are about righteousness. She is unapologetically arrogant about her political savvy, but she genuinely believes in what she’s doing. It’s not just for selfish gain, she truly wants to change society and bring back old values. Although she is seen by nearly everyone as manipulative and selfish, she really is just doing what she thinks is best. There’s an honesty to her that I really respect.
The City of Conversation takes place in the 1960s. We just came through an election that was unparalleled in its ugliness. What is Washington, DC politics like in this play? Is there anything that is in the play that still survives today in our politics? What do you admire about the state of politics in our country in the 60s?And what surprised you most about our country and the politics of the 60s?
Personally, I don’t think that politics are all that different than they have been before. Of course, the media and use of social media have blurred a lot of lines. But I do feel that people tend to romanticize the past and forget that the same kind of unsavory things happened in past politics, they just weren’t broadcast as loudly.
How has this election effected or influenced how you are playing your character? What was the best advice your director Ruben Vellekoop gave you on how to play your role?
This election had very little to do with my own process in this play. But it was very helpful to be reminded by Ruben to not judge your character. You have to find justification for their actions, even if you totally oppose their views as a person. That is the best way for a performance to be truly honest.
What is your favorite line or lines that your character says, and what is your favorite line that someone else says in the show?
I don’t think that there is a particular line that I favor. But I do enjoy the scene in the second act with Hester, when the politics mix too closely with family. I feel that both characters make very valid points and I hope that the audience is able to see both sides.
What does The City of Conversation have to say to today’s audiences?
I think that people will take from it what they want. The more politically driven folks will probably find it to be a commentary on the changing tide of politics, while others may see it as a family drama. Neither would be wrong, which is the beauty of the piece.
Why should local theatergoers come and see The City of Conversation?
This play makes you think. It forces you to see more than one side of an argument, which is not something that I think people do anymore. In order for politics and relationships to thrive, you must try to understand where a person is coming from. I believe that this play takes an honest look at how much we sacrifice when we only hear ourselves.
What’s next for you on the stage?
I’m not really sure what’s next for me. I have really enjoyed working outside of my usual style, so I may pursue another thought provoking drama.