Spooky Action Theater is presenting The Wedding Dress by Nelson Rodrigues. The show is directed by Rebecca Holderness and stars Frank Britton, Michael Kevin Darnall, Dane Edidi, Stefanie Garcia, Rafael Medina, Aniko Olah, Tuyet Thi Pham, Randolph Curtis Rand, Mundy Spears, and Sue Struve.
In Part Two in a series of interviews with the director and cast, meet Director Rebecca Holderness.
Joel: Why did you want to direct this show at Spooky Action Theater?
Rebecca: The play deals with a subject that interests me- the inner life of a human being, and its new, to me at least. Spooky Action is a great lab and producer of new work. Both freeing and supportive.
What is it about the play that made you want to direct the show?
The play provides the challenge of balancing different representations of reality and cohere them at the emotional core. When we are in crisis we frequently start to experience reality or what we think reality is, differently. In addition the play is redolent of the atmosphere of a “film noir” murder mystery- so it’s a compelling challenge to direct. I like a challenge.
Introduce us to your cast and the characters they play. What and what you feel they will bring to their performances and why were they the perfect actors to play these roles.
The cast is all very creative and agile movement based actors, so they bring a strong collaborative skill set to the rehearsal room. Each plays an equal role in creating the world of the play through movement and language as well as investing in the emotional journey of the character. All of the actors but one play several characters and so each actor must find a central core of human experience that is expressed through these different characters.
It’s impossible for me to either single actor to describe. Characters are diverse but cluster around a woman and her family, the newsroom and a hospital in 1934 and a Madam, her brothel and her lover in 1904. These two strains are brought together by accident.
Introduce us to the designers and how their work will help bring your vision to the stage. How has their design changed since the first meetings?
It’s not easy for designers to create an environment for a play that’s not realistic. In addition they need (in this case) to remain flexible and responsive to an ensemble-based process.
Vicki Davis brings a long history with me as a director and an eye for architectural space.
David Crandall brings a multi media eye and ear to sound and is both musician and actor himself.
Erik Teague brings a necessary inventive extravagance and elegance to the project.
Fly Steffens who is both dramaturge and visual image curator brings a long knowledge of my work and playwrights eyes
Maya White brings an eye for understanding the Film Noir and the willingness to work with a white set (a real challenge for a lighting designer).
There are also props designers sculptors and set painters all working on the set. We have continued to simplify the set and costumes to facilitate the fluid nature of the play.
What did you know about Playwright Nelson Rodrigues before you became director of the show and what have you learned since you have become involved in this production that has surprised you?
I didn’t know anything about the NR before working on this play. The dramaturge and I have been talking and researching for many months. Then the cast joined us with their own research. We work with both a research blog and FB page exchanging and sharing information. This is a rich part of working in the theater- learning about new things. Theater people are surprising research nerds. What I like best is Nelson’s life as a journalist and his irreverence.
Which character in the play is most like you and why?
All the characters and I become intimate, so in a way they are all like me and not like me. It’s my job to continually identify with each character and see the play their point of view.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing The Wedding Dress?
Delight in seeing the world refracted back to them in a new way. An internal question about “what if it was I?” And a spirited debate over a drink or desert and coffee about “who did it?”
Meet The Cast and Director of Spooky Action Theater’s ‘The Wedding Dress’: Part 1: Meet Playwright Nelson Rodrigues by Luís Artur Nunes.