A couple weeks ago, we did an interview with all for One’s director which appeared here. Even if you aren’t an actor, I think reading about the process of any art form, and how it is often different than we expect, is intriguing.
I used to do a lot of acting before kids, both professional acting (meaning, “paid”) and unpaid (which we are doing for this show). Both experiences have been wonderful, but one of the main reasons I no longer act regularly, besides the enormous amount of time it takes, is because it is not nearly as glamorous as it looks. When I worked professional theatre, the actors were required to clean up the trash off the floor of the theatre afterwards. We cleaned up people’s chocolate bar wrappers, leftover food containers and more. We were actors and janitors. When I traveled with a theatre group during the summer, we spent a large majority of the day traveling, then setting up and tearing down the set each day. Our time performing was very small compared with all the grunt work. We had one day off every ten days and did 50 shows in 60 days. But the memories we made were priceless. I have friends for life from those years. Even better, that’s where I met my husband.
Behind every show, every project, every accomplishment, there is a lot of sweat. Many tears. A horrendous amount of time. A lot of struggle. But there is also beauty, a finished project and hopefully, something that the audience takes away with them that makes this whole thing worth it.
Here is a glimpse into that process:
What is the most challenging aspect of this role?
SARA: My character is such a talker, so memorization has been huge for me. I work on memorizing lines usually several hours a day or as much time as I can fit in. (Now that it is almost showtime, I still spend 1.5-2 hours a day reviewing lines each day. That’s on top of 3-4 hour rehearsals.) As the Grandmother in the play says, “When one is being an actress, one has not time to be anything else.” I agree with that. There is so much work the audience doesn’t see that happens in the six weeks leading up to the show. But it’s fun work. Truly.
SAM (whose character spends a lot of time eating on stage and finding “stage business” to do while I talk): I’ve found one of the most challenging aspects of this role is finding actions for my character on stage that don’t detract from Sara.
How is this role different from other roles you’ve played?
SARA (who plays Lenore Barber, plus tells stories about her co-workers and family): I become 10+ characters in the play (we’ve lost count at this point). Typically, I only play one character in a show. This has required so much work in terms of thinking about how to make the characters different: voice, accent, body movement and character traits. This is the hardest role I’ve ever played because it’s not one role, it’s multiple roles.
SAM (who plays Alan, a straight-laced businessman): I rarely play the normal, good-looking leading man! When I have played the lead, it’s always been as a character. Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof is one example.
What is your favorite thing about this role/show?
SARA: Acting with my husband is a special treat. It’s great to work with such a talented man! We met doing theatre and it’s fun to be on stage with him again. I do not enjoy making my hair 80’s style–too much teasing, too much hairspray.
SAM (who I promise did not see my answer before he wrote this): Acting with my wife on stage again. I mean it’s ok in our living room at home, but it’s more fun with an audience watching!
What do you hope the audience takes away with them?
SARA: Those relationships that develop “by accident” can be powerful and impacting. My character meets Sam’s character in the park and then it develops into a beautiful relationship. Some of my friendships have happened that way–out of the blue–and I’m thankful for the way paths cross and we are changed by those relationships.
SAM: There is hope even when your dreams die. One line from the show is “You can outlive your dreams.” Many times the message we hear from people around us is “follow your dreams”. This is probably part of the “Disney-effect” in our culture, but for many of us our reality is much different.
Have you had any new spiritual insights as a result of preparing for this role?
SARA: We are stronger when we go through trials. This isn’t a new insight, but one of my favorite parts of the show. Grandmother has just been through a great disappointment and grief. Grandfather says she will “learn to outlive her dreams.” He goes on to say, “When you know that, and you know that you know that, you can live all your life and you’re strong.” In other words, there is life past our trials. There is joy and goodness too. We can let the disappointments of life defeat us or we can become stronger. Faith helps us see the bigger picture. Mainly, this life is a temporary place until we reach eternity.
SAM: Both Sara and I have been shaped by crisis in our lives. First through living through my cancer diagnosis and then through the death of our son, Silas. We have found that because of those experiences, we have a new love and empathy for others who, by the grace of God, have survived their own crisis. When we share our stories, it gives permission for others to share their stories and that, in turn, gives us a chance to talk about God. So, my spiritual insight is the way God works through our life stories.
Have you brought your own spirituality to bear on this character?
SARA: My character, Lenore, is not a believer. Through her relationship with Alan she starts to become open to thinking about faith and about God. It puts me into the shoes of someone who does not have faith and helps me see the doubts and obstacles to believing in God.
SAM: My character, Alan, is searching for a new life in the play after surviving a life crisis. He doesn’t understand why God does the things he does, but he has decided to trust no matter what. Even when he doesn’t understand, he holds onto the love of God. No matter what. I have tried to bring my own belief to that. God is good and his love endures. His always and forever…never giving up…always chasing us love…endures.
Favorite mystery writer?
SARA: I have taught a detective fiction class in the past and I always loved reading and teaching Agatha Christie, specifically her Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot stories. A new favorite series: the Number One Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. More character-driven and I love the African setting.
SAM: I think I have to go back to the classics of Agatha Christie. Although, I do have to mention that Masterpiece Mystery on PBS is my favorite show on television!
What is your dream role?
SARA: Beatrice in Much Ado about Nothing or The White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
SAM: I recently played Jesus in the Emmanuel Theatre Company’s production of The Mark Drama and it’s hard to top that.