Stageworks/Hudson: Second time around for new play
HUDSON. N.Y. -- Giving a new play a world premiere isn't the hard part of getting a new work on its feet and out into the world, says Stageworks / Hudson founding artistic director Laura Margolis. Getting a second production is the big challenge.
Despite having had a critical and audience success with British playwright Kieron Barry's "Tomorrow in the Battle" when Margolis produced and directed the world premiere at Stageworks / Hudson two years ago this month, the play has had no takers.
So, Margolis is at it again. Barry's drama is back at Stageworks / Hudson where it opened last weekend and is scheduled to run through Aug. 31.
Margolis is again directing. Two-thirds of the three-member cast is new. Returning is Danielle Skrastaad but in a different role.
Instead of Jennifer, the lover of a married, successful heart surgeon named Simon, whom she meets by chance at the opera, Skrastaad this time is playing Simon's wife, Anna.
Simon, Jennifer and Anna are caught in tangled professional dilemmas as well.
Simon is getting ready to perform a delicate heart transplant on a young boy at a time when he is becoming increasingly cavalier about his work.
Anna, a civil servant in Britain's Ministry of Defense, discovers a significant problem with a newly purchased key component to Britain's missile defense system and is torn between telling a Parliamentary committee the truth when she testifies before them or, at the insistence of her boss, lying. And, while Simon, unbeknownst to her, pursues his affair with Jennifer, Anna is having sexual fantasies about a close friend and colleague of Simon's and contemplating how to make fantasy reality.
Jennifer, the bright, young, sexy, uncompromised and talented close associate of a financial wunderkind who is building an international reputation, uncovers betrayal, treachery and deception during a business trip from London to the New York Stock Exchange.
The play unfolds as a series of interwoven first-person narratives.
"It's such a fascinating play," Margolis said during a recent pre-rehearsal interview in the theater lobby, where she was joined by Skrastaad and newcomers Chritopher Kelly and Olivia Gilliatt.
"It's an astounding piece of literature," Margolis said. "In directing it again, I'm finding all the things I missed the first time. I think the poetry of the piece lends itself to all kinds of discovery."
Beside the opportunity to work at a theater that feels home artistically and with a director she trusts, Skrastaad said the notion of playing Anna fascinated her.
"On a personal level," Skrastaad said, "I find I often want things that don't belong to me. So the question for me (in playing Anna) is what happens if you do? What does it mean to be a good person and what happens when you lie to yourself? What happens as small lies get bigger and you become the lies you tell?
"For Anna there also is the question of what she owes the culture, the military, the taxpayer."
For Simon, Kelly says, the issues center around responsibility and the choices he makes from a position of power.
"We can, as Simon does, compartmentalize things, push things away until years later something happens and they resurface. It's like peeling an onion -- layer after layer after layer," Kelly said.
"I find the whole play fascinating," Gilliatt said. "Its structure ...
"As an actress, you undertake an intense journey to find the character's arc. In developing our roles, we see how relationships we don't see in the play inform each of our characters.
"The stakes for everyone in the play are so high."
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