THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
Pit & Balcony Takes On Playwright Theresa Rebeck’s Character Study About Four Women Finding Their Lives on the Rocks
Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Theatre, From Issue 946 By: Robert E Martin
18th May, 2023 0
As Pit & Balcony Community Theatre puts the finishing touches upon their After Dark production and regional premier of playwright Theresa Rebeck’s Sunday on the Rocks, which closes out their 91st season and runs from Thursday through Sunday, June 22-24th, director Katie Short is excited to be sinking her teeth into a play containing topics not usually touched upon in contemporary theatre, which is one of those rare domestic comedies that hits a raw nerve for today’s generation of Angry Young Women.
Adapted by the playwright from her 1994 book, Sunday on the Rocks essentially is the story of four women who stay at home one Sunday gossiping, playing board games, snacking, reading the paper, and getting majorly inebriated. But it goes down easy as they find themselves and their lives on the rocks, hitting the scotch at 9:30 AM and beginning to notice how their lives are collapsing around them.
The characters of Gayle (portrayed by Barbie Carr), Elly (played by Aubree Harrell), and Jen (Zoey Schwab) all live together in Jessica’s home, who is portrayed by actress Annie Gower. They have lived together for a year, but they don’t really know their fellow roommates very well, and they know themselves only slightly better. On this particular Sunday, as they proceed to get smashed and loosened by the scotch, they learn new things about one another and are at a figurative crossroads in their lives. As the women gradually become sober, they decide to take charge of their lives (as well as one another’s).
These 30-something women are fools for love, each at a different stage of a relationship, from “verging-on-the-first-date” to “four-year stagnation.” Elly is pregnant and considering an abortion, Jen is being harassed by a co-worker who is obsessed with her, and Gayle just feels a bit lost. Their problems are compounded by Jessica, who has little compassion for their confused attempts to make sense of life. As they drink, joke, and argue it becomes clear how difficult it is to make a moral decision in an increasingly complex world
While the four women depicted here are neither slick nor urbane, they do fall into some familiar categories: The slutty one, the prim one, the reliable one and the unpredictable one. Rebeck’s gals are less ambitious and status conscious—they are friends and roommates by virtue of cheap rent and a lacking desire to “get a real job,” a phase they refuse to outgrow even at thirty. But while their lives may seem dissolute, on this particular Sunday they are getting bombed with a purpose; and for director Katie Short, this is one of the many elements that drew her to this production.
“Actually, I first read this play when I was in college and did the first scene in an acting class and my teacher recommended to start reading other works by Rebeck,” Short explains. “I love that this play talks about such serious topics as abortion and assault not in a blasé way, but as part of the story that weaves into the message of the narrative, which is especially rare in a play involving only women.”
“The play runs around 90-minutes and we get to see these women locked in their own self-absorbed worlds who happen to live together attempting to understand one another and the world they live in, and the more drunk they become while opening to one another, the more they see the weaknesses in one another.” she continues.
“Despite the seriousness of the topics discussed, these women don’t pity themselves,” states Katie. “They are friends having discussions in a humorous manner, which is a lighthearted way of dealing with their problems. The biggest think I connected to with this play is that I am friends with these women, who I think we all know because they are written so well. I can see myself in these characters the way they handle these topics through their discussions is amazing and creates a new type of theater.”
When asked what each of the actors brings to their character, Katie says she was extremely pleased with the auditions. “Aubree makes the perfect Elly because she is naturally unabashed and fits her personality for saying things the way she sees them. I first saw Aubree act in Stone Water Rapture, which was Pit’s first After Dark Show, and have been a fan ever since. Zoey is a younger actress and fits Jen’s character because she doesn’t have the same morality as the other characters and is more apathetic about these issues. I love Barbie, who is always great to work with; and Annie has a slight Southern accent, which is perfect for the character of Jessica, who doesn’t portray her character as angry, but almost Motherly in the sense she isn’t mad at the others so much as disappointed.”
Given that this is the first production Katie has directed for Pit, when asked about her biggest challenge as a Director, she references the blocking involved. “Right now my biggest challenge is set design because with seating limited to 100 people who will be on the stage in-the-round with the actors, I have about 28 feet front-to-back and 12 feet wide to work with, so movement will be tight. But I love that the audience will be right up on stage with the actors because of the themes were bringing out.”
“The thing I’m keeping most in mind is that this play involves four women in one space talking for 90-minutes, so how do we best make it not appear like a shouting match,” Short concludes. “Once we had our first read-through I knew the actors I chose were capable of balancing the tone, so now I don’t have to worry so much because I now they’re going to be great handling that.”
Fortunately for them and for the audience, Sunday on the Rocks serves as the perfect vehicle for getting up close and personal with four women who are willing to speak their minds, stand still for harsh criticism, and unselfishly look after one another.
Pit & Balcony’s ‘After Dark’ production of ‘Sunday on the Rocks’ will debut Thursday through Saturday, June 22-24th at 8:30 PM. Tickets are only $15.00 and can be purchased by visiting PitandBalconyTheatre.com or phoning 989.754.6587.
Please login to commentLOGIN
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)