Production Blog

A behind the scenes peek at rehearsals, artistic choices, artist interviews, and the daily business of running a theatre.

A chat with Kally Duncan about the audience and the process

Q: This play, like the rest of Posner’s Chekhov cycle, asks that the audience have a unique role to play in the telling of the story - they are not only spectators but participants that the characters need in order to proceed in their story. And each character has their own specific relationship with the audience. What do you find most interesting about this conceit, and what most excited you about this play?

A: Having audience participation makes this show so unique because no two shows will ever be the same! It is set up kind of like a melodrama from the beginning so you know you’re going to have a good time. Whats interesting is that the audience pushes the characters toward different destinations, they guide us to new ideas. And we have no idea how the audience is going to respond! So its like an improv show at times, which can be extremely fun for us and the audience. 

I was so excited to join this cast, not only because the people involved are amazingly talented, but because I have a real love for Chekhov. I fell in love with Anton Chekhov’s plays in college and having the opportunity to bring Sonia to life in such a new and modern way is just incredible. Plus Aaron Posner’s writing is hysterical and so real! I have never laughed so much during a rehearsal process as I have with this show. The excitement of getting to work with such amazing artists was palpable, including the nervous butterflies, and as soon as I sat down at our table read I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime show not to be missed.

 

A word with LIFE SUCKS. director Emily Scott Banks

Q: Having worked on last season’s production of Stupid F*cking Bird must have been highly informative in regards to approaching this season’s production of Life Sucks., both being a part of Aaron Posner’s Chekhov cycle. In your experience of directing both, what do you find are the similarities between these two productions, and what differences can audiences expect?

A: Both Stupid F*cking Bird and Life Sucks take place in the same world - in fact we even decided for our purposes, they were on the same lake, and the characters were likely neighbors or acquaintances. Both plays very much have the same voice and specific sense of rhythm that Aaron Posner brings to his writing. That said, the overall storyline of Bird lived in the element of the air, and was a bit more about youth and early adulthood; whereas Life Sucks is more of the earth, and deals more with the places in middle life. Both very much blend absurdity and heartbreak in a delicious cocktail, and both works invite and include the audience in writing the journey of the show - which makes the audience both necessary and culpable. We also made the conscious choice to not only include Easter eggs in both for those who know the Chekhov source material well, but to carry over little touches from Bird to Life Sucks - not essential for full enjoyment, but a little delight for those who have seen both.

A chat with Grace Montie about the feel

Q: This play is unique, and interestingly contradictory, not only in its setting, but also in elements of its tone, mood, genre, and structure. It is a highly contemporary play that also has an antiquated feel to it – there is a classical three act structure, but the play is completely modern. It’s set at the bottom of the world, but has an innate warmth. How would you describe this play, and, in your experience, what aspects of it seem most unique to you?

 

A: The Royal Society of Antarctica (by the incomparable Mat Smart) is interesting & complex for a myriad of reasons; the main one (in my opinion) being that it centers more on the emotional journeys of certain characters rather than being completely plot-driven. It focuses on the emotional arc of my character, Dee, however the multifaceted people she meets at the bottom of the world begin to reveal authentic sides of themselves that in turn affect Dee’s mentality & attitude in a huge way.

Dee begins the play with a certain attitude & approach that has been forming her entire life, and by Act 3 we see a stark change in her and what she finds important. This shift is completely in response to the quirky people she has met in Antarctica, and the different things she has absorbed while learning their stories.

In addition to the structure, the play is also unique in its’ use of silences. While the majority of the show moves rather furiously, there are certain moments written in the script that require everything to halt, perhaps to emphasize the importance of certain moments. This allows the audience to make the realizations & follow alongside the emotional journeys of specific characters.

This unique play juxtaposes the idea of living in the harshest climate on Earth where death is just one wrong footstep away, with the warmth and charisma these very genuine characters bring to their relationships with each other.

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