Providence Players’ Julie Janson Previews Pop-Up Production of ‘Bobby Gould in Hell’

With the success of their first pop-up theatrical venture, the Providence Players of Fairfax are ready for a second pop-up production. This time the Providence Players, a Northern Virginia staple for decades, will be producing David Mamet’s Bobby Gould in Hell (1989).

William Bodie as Bobby Gould, Jayne Victor as The Assistant and Michael Donahue as the Interrogator. Photo by Thomas Udlock.
William Bodie as Bobby Gould, Jayne Victor as The Assistant and Michael Donahue as the Interrogator. Photo by Thomas Udlock.

David Mamet’s Bobby Gould in Hell is a one-act play. It updates the life of a character named Bobby Gould who theater-goers and Mamet-mavens will recall from Mamet’s 1988 Tony Award-nominated play Speed-the-Plow; a play about the less lovely parts of the American movie-making business, written well before the recent real-life revelations about horrible male behavior. Bobby Gould in Hell has been rarely produced in the DC area in recent years. Adding interest, the Providence Players production of Bobby Gould in Hell is cast by and directed by a female director, Maria Watson.

What is Bobby Gould in Hell about? It takes place after Gould has gone to meet his maker. Is he in Heaven or Hell? Gould is asked questions from a rather devilish character called “The Interrogator.” The talkative Interrogator is not too happy; he has had to interrupt a vacation. So he makes sure that Gould confronts his own life; whether or not he is a “bad man.” Or to be more blunt; is Gould just a “male jerk?” After all, Gould has wronged others, including women. Is the Interrogator’s worst insult that Bobby is not just cruel, but boring too?

As is typical for Mamet, a playwright known for his bold use of language and development of sharply pointed situations between men and women, Bobby Gould in Hell contains strong language and adult content.

Wanting to learn more about Providence Players’ penchant for pop-up theater that aimed to brings an audience much closer to the production and its action, I chatted with Julie Janson, Providence Players Board of Directors.

Why is the Providence Players producing another pop-up theater event?

Julie Janson: Our pilot production, Oleanna, was a wonderful success with sold-out crowds. We received a lot of positive feedback that audiences not only enjoyed the show, but the format. It’s great to have dinner, see a show, then discuss the show over drinks, all in one place! In addition, it was clear that our community of artists wanted more. We received a lot of applications from hopeful directors wanting to take on our next pop-up. It’s a great opportunity to showcase more artists and expands our repertoire beyond the requirements of our mainstage. We can do smaller and/or more controversial shows, not to mention more shows in general!

Michael Donahue as the Interrogator, William Bodie as Bobby Gould and Lindsey June as Glenna. Photo by Thomas Udlock.
Michael Donahue as the Interrogator, William Bodie as Bobby Gould and Lindsey June as Glenna. Photo by Thomas Udlock.

Why did you select the production you did?

We didn’t set out to pick another Mamet show, but it was the best fit. First, we start with logistics. For now, we are looking for shorter shows with no intermission to support the entire evening’s experience. We ensure the show can be performed effectively in a smaller space with limited tech. But the most important is: Is this a good show with a passionate director that our audiences will appreciate? We are especially looking for shows that will promote conversation, which we believe Bobby Gould in Hell will do. It raises questions about what it means to be a good person.

For Bobby Gould in Hell, Maria Watson will direct. She is a professional theater director, choreographer, actor, and dancer. Watson has been a New York City-based dancer and actor for 15 years. Currently, she is the Director of Dance at Georgetown Day School in Washington, DC and on faculty at Ballet Nova.

The Bobby Gould in Hell cast includes; Michael Donahue as The Interrogator, William Bodie as Bobby Gould, Jayne Victor as The Assistant and Lindsey June as Glenna.

What can audiences expect?

If an audience member takes advantage of the full experience at our pop-location at the Italian Café in Falls Church, Virginia, they could have dinner, then go to the rear of the restaurant which is set up like a more traditional black box theater. This is not dinner theater. After the show, the audience is invited to stay to discuss the show with each other, the cast and crew, and members of Providence Players.

Bobby Gould in Hell, presented by the Providence Players of Fairfax, will play for six performances, September 5-14, 2019 at the Italian Café – 7161 Lee Highway, Falls Church, VA. For tickets, call the box office at 703-425-6782 or go online.

1 COMMENT

  1. Bill Bodie is a terrific actors, so we and lots of others have just gotta see this — especially since it’s a David Mamet play (American Buffalo is a favorite of ours).

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