Production Blog

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

A word from the director

Q: One of the over-arching themes in the Sex With Strangers is ambition - and how the relationships we form aid or hinder in achieving one’s goals. In your approach to the script, what do you think the playwright it trying to say about desire and ambition? And what other aspects of the script are you excited to “uncover”?

A: Both characters in Sex with Strangers are indeed ambitious writers, though one (Olivia) initially feels less able to express that ambition. “Why am I not allowed to be ambitious?” she asks. The answer is almost certainly because she is a woman. In a relationship where both people are artists, and each can be useful to the other’s career, layers of desire and affection and ambition begin to bleed into one another, until neither character can say for certain what is driving them. Playwright Laura Eason, who is also a writer for television’s House of Cards, has created an intriguing complication in Sex with Strangers - each character at some point writes under a pen name and develops a public persona to go with the name. Working on the play, it’s fascinating to pursue the various iterations of the question - which is real, the public persona, the person you know from reading their book, or the one next to you in bed? That question becomes fiercely important for both Ethan and Olivia, and uncovering the truth is a life or death issue for their relationship.

The Aliens: Director's Notes

The first thing audiences should know about The Aliens is some background on its playwright, Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Baker. She has an incredible gift for realism and dialogue. She captures life beautifully. One of the devices she uses to do that is silence. Her Playwright's Notes for The Aliens (an Obie Award winning play) state "half of this play should be in silence." Without that silence, the play would be a little under an hour. Ours runs just under two, with intermission included. 

Those silences are not empty. They are filled with life: tension, happiness, longing, need, curiosity... The silences define the rhythm of life as it's lived. For our characters, the set is their playground... a place of ultimate refuge and safety where they can vent, create, experiment and just be.  In this play, we the audience are voyeurs watching events unfold over a couple of weeks one summer behind a coffee shop in Vermont.

So, what is the play about? It's about life. Growing up. Connection, friendship, love, loss, hope. Drugs, rock-in-roll, Bukowski, poetry, disillusionment and fireworks. It is about a teenager who finds himself through the most unlikely of mentors. It is simple and full. It is life. I am so honored to bring this beautiful play to the stage and to share it with audiences.  

One more thing: During casting, I really struggled. Both of my older actors were fully capable of playing either role. They couldn't have had more different takes on the characters but both performances were honest and sublime. About midway through rehearsal, I confessed the casting dilemma I'd had to Jake (Buchanan) and Joey (Folsom), the actors in the roles . Together we decided to let them do one rehearsal in the opposite role. I was sold and they were excited, agreeing to the added work with the pay-off of getting a very rare opportunity for an actor. It's worked out great. Seeing the different performances is a trip. Completely different but fabulous. Audiences will see the original casting on Thursdays and Saturdays and the alternate casting on Fridays and Sundays.

The Aliens (a poem by Charles Bukowski)

you may not believe it 
but there are people 
who go through life with 
very little 
friction or 
distress. 
they dress well, eat 
well, sleep well. 
they are contented with 
their family 
life. 
they have moments of 
grief 
but all in all 
they are undisturbed 
and often feel 
very good. 
and when they die 
it is an easy 
death, usually in their 
sleep. 

you may not believe 
it 
but such people do 
exist. 

but i am not one of 
them. 
oh no, I am not one of them, 
I am not even near 
to being 
one of 
them. 
but they 
are there 

and I am 
here

from The Last Night Of The Earth Poems

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