In Part 8 of a series of interviews with The Playwright, Director, and cast of Calendar Girls at McLean Community Players meet Sam David.
Joel: Tell our readers where they may have seen you on local stages.
Sam: If they’ve been to a Rude Mechanicals production in the last couple of years they’ve probably seen me: I had roles in The Vagina Monologues, Macbeth, and Julius Caesar. I also played Sister Mary Ignatius in Chevy Chase Players’ production of Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You. Most recently, I was Lady Constance in the Rudes’ wonderfully silly production of The Life of King John at Capital Fringe this summer, and I’ll be playing her again in the extended Life and Death of King John version at Greenbelt Arts Center from August 21st to September 5th.
Tell us about the character you play and how you relate to her. Does she have any of your personality or character traits?
I play Annie Clarke. The death of Annie’s husband John from leukemia is the catalyst for the “nude” calendar project devised by Annie’s best friend Chris. Annie is quieter than Chris, more sensitive and empathetic. In middle age, she’s comfortable with who she is, happy with the choices she’s made in life and where they have led her. She’s very grounded, far more so than I am.
The biggest similarity between Annie and me is that we’re both very non-confrontational; Annie hates to upset anyone and will always try to calm and compromise rather than conflict. But she’s no pushover – if confrontation is her only option, she will defend her position with implacable conviction.
What have been some of the challenges you have had preparing for your role and how did your director help you with these challenges?
Although Annie has many funny lines and comedic moments, she’s also a woman in deep mourning after the death of her beloved husband. Striking the balance between her humor and her profound grief and conveying the tensions that slowly develop between her and Chris is a tremendous acting challenge. Bob Sams is marvelous at helping me to find moments to allow Annie’s grief and anger to show through without overwhelming the lighter aspects of her character.
Which character in the show is most like you, and why?
I have some of Chris’ restlessness and need for novelty, more than a touch of Cora’s cynicism and tendency toward dry humor and a lot of Annie’s conflict-avoidance, but I‘d like to be Jessie when I grow up.
What do you admire most about your fellow cast members?
Where to start? This is an immensely supportive cast, endlessly generous with their talent, experience, energy, ideas and attention. They are fabulous to work with.
If you were a Calendar Girl, what would your page look like, and which month would you be and why?
I would probably be posed in a kitchen surrounded by homemade cakes and cookies and bowls of freshly-made Italian meringue buttercream, because unlike Chris Harper I’m not “crap at cakes” and I really can “bake a bloody Victoria Sponge.” My month would be April or October, when the spring blossoms or fall colors are at their loveliest, because who wants to be stuck in a hot kitchen in the height of summer?
What is your favorite line that your character says? What is your favorite line that another character says?
I enjoy something Annie says as the women draw straws to decide which of them will be photographed nude first: “Can I just say, if it is me I shall be proud and honored and more than anything happy to – OH THANK GOD IT’S NOT ME.” It’s just such tremendous fun to play.
My favorite line from another character changes with every rehearsal, but I always have to fight to keep a straight face when I hear Jessie’s reaction to Celia’s attempts to look “enigmatic”: “She looks like she’s got pelvic floor trouble.”
What do you want audiences to take with them after watching you perform in Calendar Girls?
Smiles, and a little more hope than they walked in with.
What has been the most fun playing this character?
Getting to recreate the warmth, humor and down-to-earth camaraderie of the women of Knapeley WI. As Celia puts it, “Come and hang out with the real women of this county and learn a little debauchery before it’s too bloody late.”
Calendar Girl plays from September 18- October 3, 2015 at the McLean Community Players performing at McLean Community Center’s Alden Theatre – 1234 Ingleside Avenue, in McLean, VA. For more information, call (703) 304-3176, or visit their website. Tickets are available at the Alden Box Office, through OvationTix at 1-866-811-4111, or online.
Meet the Cast of McLean Community Players’ ‘Calendar Girl’: Part 1: Diane Sams.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘Calendar Girls’ at McLean Community Players, Part 2: Kathryn (Katie) Johnston.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘Calendar Girls’ at McLean Community Players, Part 3: Liz Weber.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘Calendar Girls’ at McLean Community Players, Part 4: Jennifer Levy.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘Calendar Girls’ at McLean Community Players, Part 5: Jennifer Greene.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘Calendar Girls’ at McLean Community Players, Part 6: Anne Megan Hilleary.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘Calendar Girls’ at McLean Community Players, Part 7: Frank Gorrell.
McLean Community Players Presents Tim Firth’s ‘Calendar Girls’ September 18 – October 3, 2015.