In Part 3 of a series of interviews with the cast of Montgomery Playhouse’s Painting Churches, meet Jane Squier Bruns.
Joel: Where have local audiences seen you perform recently on stage?
Jane: I just played Lettice Douffet in Quotidian Theatre Co.’s production of Lettice and Lovage. Also, Quotidian’s production of The Veil and Silver Spring Stage’s Other Desert Cities.
Why did you want to be part of the cast of Painting Churches at MP?
Actually, I came in late in the rehearsals as a replacement for a cast member who had to drop out.
Who do you play in the show? How do you relate to her?
I play Fanny Church whose husband is developing dementia. I am her age and having some personal experiences within my own family that are similar to hers.
What’s the show about from the point of view of your character?
The play is about relationships (what else are plays ever about?) Fanny is coping with her husband’s condition and also with her daughter who has come home to help her parents move from their big house. However, the daughter, a professional artist, also wants to paint her parents’ portrait. The various multi-faceted relationships between husband/wife, mother/daughter and father/daughter create the crux of the story.
What is your favorite line or lines that your character says?
My favorite line as Fanny is this one that she says to her daughter who is obsessed with painting her parents: “Paint us? What about opening your eyes and really seeing us?”
I think that line reflects the main message of the play – that it is so difficult for each of us to really see and know others, even when they are the people we are closest to.
What have you learned about yourself as an actor while preparing for your role and in rehearsals?
I’ve learned that it’s REALLY hard to learn a script this complicated in 2 weeks!!! As an actor, I love the character of Fanny, but then I find that one always falls in love with whatever character one is playing. Fanny is rather eccentric and dramatic – lots of layers.
What have been some of the challenges you have had in rehearsals and how did your director, Mary Beth Levrio, help you to solve them?
I just haven’t had enough time to really do the work I usually do in preparing a role. Mary Beth has been very supportive and patient. She’s an excellent director. It’s also quite a physical role which adds to its demands, and she’s a superb coach of movement.
What lessons and themes does Painting Churches have to offer the audience?
As I mentioned before, the theme of how difficult it is to really know another person and then accept them as they are. And that, finally, life is precious with all its challenges, and the most precious thing about it is love – especially, in this case, for family.
What are you doing next on the stage?
Nothing scheduled at the moment.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing Painting Churches?
Even though a primary topic in the play is dementia, it is not heavy or gloomy. Rather it is about the love we have for each other – especially for our family. And about how difficult it is to really see another person and totally accept them as they are. There is a sweetness, a poignancy and, finally, a warmth and hopefulness that, I think, the play conveys.
Painting Churches plays November 6 – 22, 2015, at Montgomery Playhouse a and the City of Gaithersburg performing at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn – 311 Kent Square Road, in Gaithersburg, MD. For tickets, call (301) 258-6394, or purchase them online.
Meet the Cast of ‘Painting Churches’ at Montgomery Playhouse: Part 1: David Jones.
Meet the Cast of ‘Painting Churches’ at Montgomery Playhouse: Part 2: Shanna Ridenour.
Meet the Cast of ‘Painting Churches’ at Montgomery Playhouse: Part 3: Jane Squier Bruns.