This is Part 2 of Co-Artistic Director Brian Sutow taking us behind the scenes of No Rules Theatre Company’s production of Suicide, Incorporated:
We are now almost half way through the rehearsal process. Because the play has such an engine beneath it, our director (Co-Artistic Director Joshua Morgan) has insisted on running the play on a regular basis, so already we have stepped through the show three times. Although this seemed intimidating at first, it has proven to be incredibly useful, as it is only really in a run that we can track some of the unspoken emotional givens that accumulate throughout the play.
After our most recent run-through one of my cast mates turned to me with a huge smile on his face. “I think we’ve really got a hot little something,” he surmised with a mixture of surprise and delight. Although I’m too much of a worrier myself to share in such rejoicing, it is undeniable that the plays fantastic writing is finally really starting to crackle in the room.
Given our extended rehearsal process, we have had the opportunity to share and explore some research material together as a group. This American Life, my all-time favorite NPR program, has proven to be a repeatedly useful source for information. One episode, in which an amateur documentarian interviews his suicidal friend (in the hopes that playing the conversation back to his companion will help him), proved particularly interesting.
What was most fascinating about the piece was not the ways in which the suicidal man spoke, but rather the amateur interviewers inability to know how to discuss something so emotionally honest and revealing with another man. Although he ultimately seems to develop a deeply nuanced understanding of the situation, the way in which he produces the beginning of the piece is clichéd, dishonest and dreary in a way that is disparate from the observations being shared by the man who is actually suicidal. This is an idea that has become fascinating to me over the course of this rehearsal process: the ways men struggle to communicate.
On Monday, we had a psychologist come in and speak with us and he helped to further clarify much of the content of the play. His interpretation was fascinating and gave all of us a more educated and dimensional understanding of some of the psychological constructs at work with the shows more troubled characters (well, it’s a play, they’re all troubled). I left with a deeper understanding of how men often express themselves through regrettable actions, and how these actions can lead to a sort of endless cycle of self-hatred.
However, don’t let those descriptions make you think that the process has gotten totally dark and dreary. To the contrary, the play is often quite hilarious, and the farther we get in the process the more the humor starts to shine. Joe Isenberg, playing the slimy boss of a business that helps its clients write their suicide notes, has found some incredible behavior involving a popular cat toy. I won’t say more, because I don’t want to spoil the surprise.
Until next week!
Co-Artistic Director No Rules Theatre Company
Read Brian Sutow’s First Week look at Suicide, Inc.