As part of our ongoing efforts to give you a behind the scenes look at our productions, we have produced a brief documentary about creating No Man’s Land featuring interviews with David and Lewis Wheeler and production dramaturg, Miriam Weisfeld. Read the rest of this entry »
Bullet points today, ‘cause that’s how my brain is frying…
- Previews! Oh, what a pleasure to have an audience! Truly the missing link. The energy of the house, my nerves, the drive and purpose – all marvelous. And the energy tightened the performance so much! A challenge, always, to make that leap from the crew in the room to EVERYONE in the room, but the best challenge, and, after all, the purpose of the exercise. If no one ever saw the play, what would be the point? I wouldn’t do it. The PURPOSE of a piece of theater is the AUDIENCE. So, thank you for the challenge and the reward – come early and often! I think you’ll enjoy it, and get a lot out of it; your money’s worth, I hope. Read the rest of this entry »
On Sunday we bid farewell to our rehearsal hall, and yesterday began our technical rehearsals in the Loeb. The set is wonderful: the room looks cavernous and invokes that particularly English antique grandeur of high-vaulted wood paneling and leather, but by using levels and angles and furniture our designer, Michael Griggs, has created a variety of playing spaces within the grand room that allow for intimate and specific contact between actors. It’s very well done, and a pleasure to play on. Read the rest of this entry »
After 43 years in the theater, appearing in nine Harold Pinter plays, Paul Benedict has a good idea about what he’ll do when he finally gets some time to himself.
“Suicide,” says Benedict with perfect comic timing.
It’s natural for an actor to be in a dark place after rehearsing a Pinter play for a couple of weeks. The playwright’s material is hardly uplifting, with dark themes and uncomfortable pauses. Thankfully, Benedict’s sense of humor keeps him grounded.
The truth is Benedict was all set to retire from the stage and was looking forward to working at his vineyard. Then he got a call from director David Wheeler.
Lewis Wheeler has a distinct advantage over the other actors in “No Man’s Land.” He’s known the director all his life.
“I’ve been watching my dad in rehearsals since I was a little kid,” says Wheeler, whose father, the award-winning David Wheeler, is directing Harold Pinter’s bleak comedy for the American Repertory Theatre starting Saturday.
“I know what he wants from me, and we’ve got a definite shorthand,” he says.
His father looks over at him fondly. “I think we know how to collaborate,” he says. The two men are sitting in the ART offices, and it’s touching to see the obvious pride they take in each other.
Unlike The Birthday Party and The Homecoming, now staples of the repertory, this play by the 2005 Nobel laureate is seldom mounted. (In conjunction with this production, the Harvard Film Archive is screening nine Pinter-scripted films plus a bio-documentary in the series “Harold Pinter: Stage to Screen,” May 13-30; Michael Atkinson’s review will appear in next week’s Phoenix.) Paul Benedict (Waiting for Guffman, TV’s The Jeffersons), who plays Hirst, says of stepping into the shoes of Gielgud and Richardson, “People are afraid, perhaps in the way that batters were afraid for a long time to follow Babe Ruth.”
The action is simple, though the undercurrents are not. The curtain rises on the two elderly men sharing whiskey and conversation in Hirst’s comfortable living room. Hirst has invited Spooner home for a nightcap. Although Spooner claims to be a poet and Hirst is an established writer, nothing is certain about the pair’s past lives. The first act ends when two young men — servants, perhaps, or relatives — burst in and take control.
I’m just back in from my morning run, and dreaming of Marathons. I haven’t run one yet, but I’m hatching plans to race next fall.
Toronto Waterfront, September 30th. The timing is perfect for me.
Those who know me well know that I thrive on metaphor. Most of my theory of acting is that being on stage is just like snowboarding. But, as I prepare to go back out and develop my career in the theatre, running reminds me that endurance is not struggle, but commitment.
-henry david clarke