The Actors Company Theatre Blog

FEBRUARY 16TH  2017 – Spotlight On: Jeff Talbott

At TACT, we pride ourselves in reclaiming and reimagining works of literary merit to create a new, exciting theatre experience. This season, however, we are also thrilled to achieve an exciting milestone for the company for our upcoming mainstage: the World Premiere of The Gravedigger’s Lullaby, an original play written by company member Jeff Talbott. Previously, Talbott received the Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award for his play, The Submission, which was produced Off-Broadway in 2011. We spoke to him about the evolution of this new show, his creative process, and advice for new artists.

 1. What initially interested or inspired you to create The Gravedigger’s Lullaby? 

Like most of my writing, it started with an image – a poor man and a rich man, sitting together, eating.  From there, I started working outward to find out more about them: met a wife, met a friend, and started to let everybody talk to each other.  Once I realized it wasn’t set today, the trick was finding a contemporary but timeless language for them to use and shape the story from there.

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Jeff Talbott

  2. The Gravedigger’s Lullaby was read as part of TACT’s newTACTics  New Play Festival in 2015. For those who may have been exposed to it then, how has the text transformed?

It has changed in many ways, large and small.  There’s been tightening (because there’s always tightening), but more importantly Jenn and I have worked to clarify key things about the characters.  There are several completely new scenes and, in the case of one character, an almost completely new approach to who he is.

 3. How would you (as its playwright) describe The Gravedigger’s Lullaby  using six words (no more, no less)?

Life seems unchangeable; nevertheless, we persist.

4. What is a practical piece of wisdom you would offer aspiring or emerging writers seeking your advice?

Keep writing.  It’s the only good piece of advice.  Everything else is just noise – the practical matters of how to get people to know your work are what they are, and every writer combats them daily.  But the trick is to keep writing.  Every day.  Write.

NOVEMBER 18th – No Rest For the Weary! QUARTERMAINE’S TERMS in the Salon Series

The cast of Quartermaine's Terms

The cast of Quartermaine’s Terms

She Stoops to Conquer closed only ten short days ago, and in those ten days TACT rehearsed, opened, and closed another show. The Clurman Theatre had barely been repainted by the time the curtain opened on Quartermaine’s Terms, the first installment of the 2016/17 Salon Series.

The Salon Series is the cornerstone of TACT and the longest-running performance program the theatre presents. Performed at the TACT Studio exclusively for subscribing members, the Series presents plays in “concert-style” staged readings using the Acting Company’s signature style of face-out, lightly costumed performance. With the Salon Series, TACT strives to create an intimate theatrical experience for our audience, free of any bells and whistles. The focus is on theatre’s core elements: the playwright’s words and the actor’s ability to bring them to life.

​Each year, the Salon Series focuses on a theme. Last year’s series explored for hundred years of comedy with plays representing the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. This year, the Company goes back to the classroom with the theme “It’s Academic!”: four plays revolving around students, their teachers, and the schools in which they come together.

Quartermaine’s Terms by Simon Gray was the first selection of the year for the Salon Series. Written by Simon Gray in 1981, this darkly emotional comedy takes place in the staff room of a Cambridge English language school for non-English speakers. Throughout the play we see the goings-on of the school and witness the interactions of the teachers and the school principal. With a profound sense of lineliness, the characters attempt to connect with one another on a meaningful level, but their sense of propriety, alienation, and reserve keep them estranged.

Simon Gray’s seminal work was original mounted in 1981 at the Queen’s Theatre with famed playwright and Nobel Prize Laureate Harold Pinter directing the production which starred Edward Fox as the titular teacher​ St. John Quartermaine​. More recently in 2013, Rowan Atkinson played St. John Quartermaine at the Wyndham’s Theatre, also in London.

​TACT’s production of Quartermaine’s Terms featured longtime TACT Company Member Jack Koenig as St. John (pronounced “​Sinjin”​), Brandon Jones as Derek, Terry Layman as Eddie, and Dana Smith-Croll as Melanie. Rounding out the cast were three TACT guest artists: Marc LeVasseur played Mark, John Pasha played Henry, and Lori Vega played Anita. The production was directed by Associate Artistic Director Jeffrey C. Hawkins and featured music from composer Nick Vannoy. The production stage manager was Adjunct Company Member Yetti Steinman.

Within one short week, these artists came together for the first time, rehearsed the show, and performed it for an audience of dedicated subscribers. Therein lies the real beauty of the Salon Series: its intimacy and its immediacy. With the company working so hard and tirelessly to produce the play with such a short turnaround time, you as an audience member cannot help but feel that energy and connect with that work.

Did you miss Quartermaine’s Terms? Fear not: you only have one short month to wait before the second installment of the Salon Series hits the TACT Studio Stage. Starting on December 10th we will be traveling across the border to Wales with Emlyn Williams’ The Corn is Green. Remember: only subscribers can attend these readings, and it’s not too late at all to become a subscriber!

In the meantime, please enjoy this slideshow of pictures from Quartermaine’s Terms. We hope you’ll enjoy viewing them as much as we’ve enjoyed creating them.

NOVEMBER 4th – She Stoops… CONQUERED!

Tony Roach, Richard Thieriot, and Jeremy Beck

Tony Roach, Richard Thieriot, and Jeremy Beck

One of the primary reasons TACT chose to produce SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER as the Fall Mainstage show is that we knew our audience would be looking for a laugh come November. Perhaps it is only fitting, then, that Oliver Goldsmith’s seminal comedy about identity and romance comes to a close this weekend, mere days before November 8th.

It’s hard to believe, considering that just a few short weeks ago we were reporting on the Opening Night festivities for the production, but all good things do come to an end, and the end for SHE STOOPS will be one final special matinee performance this Sunday, November 6th. There will be an evening show tonight, two shows tomorrow, and then the cast will take their final curtain call the next day.

TACT produces ten plays every year through three different performance programs, so it only makes sense that each play has a quick turnaround time. It has been less than two months since the cast and crew came together for the first time, and now they are getting ready to move on to the next; but in those two months the team behind SHE STOOPS took a brand new adaptation of this classic script and turned it into a magical theatrical experience for our audience.

And even that is an understatement, because the truth is that come the end of the run the cast and crew would have created thirty-six different theatrical experiences. TACT’s focus has always been the relationship between the audience and the actors,  being different from the one before.

Moreover, technically speaking, the cast and crew itself changes every performance of SHE STOOPS. The Fourth Wall in this production was not just blurred, it was obliterated. Actors performed in the house, directly interacted with patrons, and ultimately invited one lucky patron on stage every night to play a small servant role. As Jeremy Beck put it last week, the audience “brings the play to life.”

With that in mind, we want to take this opportunity to thank you, our audience, for bringing SHE STOOPS to life on stage over this past month. Thank you to everyone who came out to see the play, and thank you for making it all possible.

Were you not able to see SHE STOOPS? Have no fear: TACT’s quick turnaround time will be in full effect next week as we prepare to officially kick of the 2016/17 Salon Series with a concert-style reading of QUARTERMAINE’S TERMS by Simon Gray. Remember: the Salon Series is the exclusive domain of our subscribing members, and it’s not too late to purchase your membership.

One play down, nine to go! The 2016/17 Season has only just begun.

OCTOBER 28th – An Interview with Jeremy Beck

Jeremy Beck as Charles Marlow in a scene from SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER. Photograph by Marielle Solan

Jeremy Beck as Charles Marlow in a scene from SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER. Photograph by Marielle Solan

SHE STOOPS has had quite an eventful second-to-last week. First, on Tuesday, it was announced that the production would receive an extension and would perform one more additional matinee on November 6th. Then, on Thursday the 27th, we celebrated TACT Social Night, a special event for students and young professionals. For a discounted rate, people under the age of 35 were able to see SHE STOOPS, attend a talkback with the cast, crew, and company members, and then mingle with them at Bourbon Street Bar & Grille. And finally today, as the icing on the cake, Charles Marlow himself Jeremy Beck participated in an interview about his experience with SHE STOOPS. Read all about how the show has evolved since the Salon Series reading and how he sees his character through a modern lens.

1. We’ve heard from Scott about what excites him about this production of She Stoops; what excites you about performing in it?

We’re bringing the spirit of the Salon Series to a full production. I hope our production honors those first years of TACT, where audience and actors came together and, with only a hint of costumes, experienced a great play. This play is so fun, lyrical, witty, and surprising.

2. You performed this role in the Salon Series last winter; what has the experience of reviving the role for the Mainstage been like? What have you learned about your character that you didn’t know before?

The salons are great for big risks and broad strokes. Everything changes once you start watching and reacting to the actor in front of you (as opposed to the face-forward “TACT style” of the salons). We’ve let go (sometimes through tears) of some ideas and bits that worked in the salon but no longer served the story or relationships. We’ve found more than we’ve lost.

The Marlow that is emerging one who yearns for love and happiness but is convinced he lacks the tools to acquire them. His attempts to compensate for his inadequacies only lead to further humiliations. His behavior, while extraordinary, stems from very ordinary hopes and fears.

3. What is it about SHE STOOPS that makes it so relevant to a modern audience? What aspects of Marlow do you think people will find relatable?

The 18th-century English social conventions set the stage for the “Mistakes of the Night” but beyond that, these are all characters either trying to be the best version of themselves they can imagine or attempting to pull off a version they think will appeal to the person they hope to impress (or dupe).

The characters in “She Stoops” are full of assumptions about each other. That’s a universal trait with unlimited shelf life.  People will surprise you, though! There are assumptions here about class, gender, education, and identity, to name a few. You get the sense that Goldsmith delighted making fun of them.

Marlow is “in for a list of blunders.” Haven’t we all had those days?

4. This production features a great deal of audience interaction. Your character in particular directly interacts with the house on several occasions. Who would you say is the ideal audience member for this production? Who absolutely must see SHE STOOPS at TACT?

Obviously, the audience is critical for any theatre. They are that last piece that brings the “play” to life. In “She Stoops” there are moments when the characters can’t go on without enlisting the ear of the audience for a clarification, a confession, or a complaint. As a device, it allows the characters to reveal to the audience what they can’t to the others onstage. And there is even a little bit of competition among some of the characters to get the audience on their side. As an actor, it’s great to share an intimate thought with a stranger in the audience. Hopefully, by the end of the night, we won’t feel like strangers anymore.

OCTOBER 21st – Opening Night and the First Week of Performances

L-R: James Predergast, Cynthia Darlow, Richard Thieriot, Justine Salata, Scott Alan Evans, Jeremy Beck, Tony Roach, Mairin Lee, John Rothman

L-R: James Predergast, Cynthia Darlow, Richard Thieriot, Justine Salata, Scott Alan Evans, Jeremy Beck, Tony Roach, Mairin Lee, John Rothman. Photo by Robert Gelberg.

The work that began almost one year ago culminated on Sunday evening, October 16th, with the official opening of TACT’s production of SHE STOOPS at the Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row

After two weeks of previews with the production team honing and refining the show, She Stoops opened to an invited audience of Board and company members, press, industry insiders,  supporters, friends, and family. The performance was followed by a reception at the upstairs lounge at Theatre Row where the audience and cast came together over drinks and bites, including cheese and nibbles donated by Beecher’s.

Since then, the reviews for She Stoops have been pouring in, and it’s clear that people are looking for a laugh this Election Season, because they have been overwhelmingly positive and warm. Theatre is Easy in particular noted the need for comedy in a political world:

“The cast and crew have managed to execute a purely delightful production at a time when the theater is too often used as a soapbox…The cast knows exactly what they’re doing, and the chemistry between one another allows the story to flow freely…For a show that premiered in 1773, it holds up remarkably well” – Will Jacobs, Theatre is Easy.

Other critics have noted how hilarious and timely Goldsmith’s comedy is. Chloe Edmonson for Off Off Online noted that “the moments when this production shines most are when it is faithful to Goldsmith’s unique genre of ‘laughing comedy,’ aimed to elicit belly laughs with physical ridiculousness and silly twists of plot.” Curtain Up reviewer Charles Wright added that “Evans and his cast are demonstrating that Goldsmith’s gem holds up as a source of merriment and a fine chance for actors to flaunt their comic gifts.”

As humbling and emboldening as the reviews from professional critics have been, what has been even more exciting for us has been hearing what audience members have had to say on Show-Score. One person who saw the production on October 18th said, “I thought it was delightful!! We laughed and enjoyed ourselves immensely!” Another person who saw the same performance encouraged people to “See it if you love the dynamic, comedic staging of a very funny Oliver Goldsmith play.”

Whatever it might be, whether it’s the way Goldsmith’s writing has managed to remain relatable to modern audiences or whether those audiences are just looking for a laugh, something seems to be clicking between She Stoops and our patrons. Single tickets are on sale now, and it’s still not too late to subscribe to our whole season. We can’t wait to see you there, and when we do we hope you’ll review the show on Show-score, too!

OCTOBER 14TH – From Salon to Mainstage: Two Days Until Opening!

Production Photo by Marielle Solan

Production Photo by Marielle Solan

So much has happened since our first blog post. It has been one month and one day since the first table read of She Stoops to Conquer, and in that time this play has transformed multiple times. First, the script transformed from words on a page to voices in the air as the actors read their roles aloud for the first time. Then, those voices transformed from line readings into real dialogue as the actors began to formulate their characters. Finally, over the course of the past two weeks of preview performances, the production itself has evolved from a simple idea into something special that audiences have already labeled “one of the best productions of this classic we’re likely to see for some time to come.”

As we prepare to officially open She Stoops this Sunday, we’ve been thinking back on the biggest transformation this production has taken, that of course being the transformation from Salon Series reading into Mainstage production. Back in December of 2015 TACT presented She Stoops as a concert-style staged reading at the TACT Studio and have now moved the play to a full production.

That transformation has us thinking about the other times TACT has moved a Salon Series reading to the Mainstage. It does not happen often – so far seven plays have gone from readings to productions – but each time it does a process of artistic discovery and investigation begins that is incredibly exciting and fulfilling for all artists involved.

In fact, Home by David Storey, one of TACT’s very first Off-Broadway productions and the inaugural play of the Mainstage program, originated at TACT as a concert-style reading back before the Salon Series was even called the Salon Series. That was in 2006; TACT wouldn’t make a similar transfer again until the Fall of 2009 with the Mainstage production of The Late Christopher Bean by Sidney Howard, which was originally read in the 2006/07 Salon Series season. Christopher Bean was immediately followed on the Mainstage by another Salon Series transfer: T.S. Eliot’s The Cocktail Party.

Several other wonderful plays have made the leap from Salon Series to Mainstage over the years. Three Men on a Horse by John Cecil Holm and George Abbott went up at the Beckett Theatre in 2011. In 2013, Anita Loos’Happy Birthday received a full production. TACT’s most recent Mainstage production, George Bernard Shaw’s Widowers’ Houses, was originally a Salon Series play in the 2001/02 season.

And now She Stoops to Conquer is the latest play to make the jump. When asked about what excites him about making the switch, director Scott Alan Evans said, “Having had the experience of initially exploring the play together in our Salon Series, we have the opportunity to build upon that work in wonderfully unexpected ways.”

Building upon the Salon Series reading has certainly paid off, if initial audience reactions are any indication. Audience members writing on the theatrical review aggregator Show-Score.com are calling TACT’s adaptation of She Stoops “Funny, Entertaining, Delightful, and Clever.” Tickets are still available for the run, and of course there it’s still not too late to subscribe to the season. By doing so, you’ll get access to this year’s Salon Series readings, the first of which starts in less than a month. Who knows which reading will be the next to make its way to the Mainstage?

OCTOBER 7TH – A “Preview” of What’s to Come

Production Photo by Marielle Solan

Production Photo by Marielle Solan

TACT has made its home at Theatre Row as a resident company since 2006. Over the course of ten years of work you would think we here at TACT would become jaded to the process of opening up an Off-Broadway production. After producing twenty plays at Theatre Row you would think it would simply become routine for us, and that starting preview performances for She Stoops to Conquer would be just another day at the office. After our first week of previews, we can confirm that there is absolutely nothing “routine” about producing an Off-Broadway play, and that even after a decade of being a resident company it is always best to expect the unexpected.

For one, there’s the matter of the theatre in which She Stoops is being performed. As was mentioned in last week’s edition of “She Stoops to Blogger” TACT found its way into the Clurman after a complicated game of “theatrical chairs” involving several other Theatre Row resident companies. While the Clurman is less than thirty feet away from the Beckett and the two theatres are identical in almost every conceivable way, the few ways in which they differ make all the difference. Scenic Designer Brett Banakis had to redesign the show’s entire set to account for the Clurman’s specifications, and Lighting Designer M.L. Geiger had to do the same with the lighting concept.

Next, there’s the matter of the cast of the play itself. TACT audience members may recognize some familiar faces in the She Stoops cast as several of them are reprising their roles from the Salon Series reading of the play last December. Richard Thieriot, James Predergast, Jeremy Beck, and Cynthia Darlow are all stepping back into their roles for this Mainstage production. The other roles, meanwhile, are all being filled by newcomers to TACT’s She Stoops.

Finally, and most significantly, there’s the audience. One of the central tenants of TACT’s mission is audience involvement. Theatre cannot exist without an audience, and we take that point very seriously. In the case of She Stoops, we take it one step further. How? Well, we’re not going to tell you here; you’ll have to come see the show! Suffice it to say that if every audience is different, that means every performance is different. There have been three public performances of She Stoops so far, and each one was completely different than the last.

What has made this week so interesting is that we have all of these elements that have been changing and coming together over the past few weeks of rehearsal now all working in tandem with one another as we begin performances. If there is nothing routine about producing theatre, then the first week of preview performances is all about finding that routine, getting into the rhythms of the show, and ultimately getting the ball rolling on what is already turning out to be an incredibly exciting production.

SEPTEMBER 30TH – Out of the Studio, Into the Clurman!

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It seems like only yesterday that the cast and crew of She Stoops to Conquer all came together for the first time in the TACT Studio for the first rehearsal. In truth, it was seventeen days ago, but those seventeen days have flown by so quickly that it hardly seems possible that the team has already packed up and moved into the Clurman Theatre. One moment the TACT Studio was filled with music, laughter, and collaboration, and now the studio is eerily silent. The Clurman Theatre, on the other hand, is another story entirely.

Load-in week began on Monday. A truck pulled up outside of 900 Broadway and the TACT staff immediately went to work loading it up with props, furniture, costumes, and equipment. Between the trees on wheels, the ornate chairs, the boxes of flashlights, and the racks of clothes, the truck was filled from front to back before anyone could blink an eye. Technical Director André Sguerra, who has been working with TACT since last season, remarked that he had never filled a truck to capacity on a load-in before. If there was ever a show to do just that, it would have to be the over-the-top, larger-than-life She Stoops to Conquer.

As quickly as it as loaded up, the truck was emptied out once it arrived at Theatre Row. All items were moved from the street, down the freight elevator, and into the backstage area of the Clurman Theatre where TACT will be performing for the first time since its first production at Theatre Row in 2004: The Triangle Factory Fire Project. TACT has been a resident company at Theatre Row since 2006, and all but one of its productions have been presented at the Beckett Theatre. After a complicated game of “theatrical chairs” earlier this month featuring two other resident companies, She Stoops has found its new home directly across the hall from the Beckett in the intimate 99-seat Clurman Theatre.

The next half of the week involved preparing the Clurman for the arrival of the actors on Wednesday evening. This included a little bit of everything: hanging lights, painting the walls and floor, building the set itself, and decorating the lobby with pictures and posters from TACT’s history. Once all of the load-in, building, and prep work was completed, rehearsals resumed.

And not a moment too soon. The first performance She Stoops will receive in front of an audience will be an invited dress rehearsal for TACT Company Members and friends on October 2nd. Then the theatre will be dark on Monday, and the very next day She Stoops will perform for a public audience for the first time. That means that the next installment of SHE STOOPS TO BLOGGER will be published after performances have begun! Single ticket purchases are still available, and there is still plenty of time to subscribe to TACT’s 2016/17 season to get access not only to She Stoops but to our Salon Series as well. We are so close to being able to share this play with you, and we hope you will enjoy seeing it as much as we have enjoyed producing it.

SEPTEMBER 24TH – An Interview with SHE STOOPS director Scott Alan Evans

Director Scott Alan Evans with Mairin Lee and John Rothman

Director Scott Alan Evans with Mairin Lee and John Rothman

SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER has just wrapped up its second week of rehearsals, and what an exciting week it has been. At any given moment in the TACT Studio you may find Jeremy Beck (Marlow) playing the glockenspiel, Cynthia Darlow (Mrs. Hardcastle) doing her best mermaid impression, or any number of other hilarious situations that you will soon get to see on stage. At times it may feel like controlled chaos, as rehearsals often can. The key word there, however, is control, and that is where director Scott Alan Evans comes in. Not only is he at the helm for this production, he also reworked and adapted the script himself. SHE STOOPS is the most recent of the 150 plays Scott has either directed or produced for TACT, and he sat down to answer a few questions about the production for this newest edition of SHE STOOPS TO BLOGGER.

1. What originally drew you to SHE STOOPS as a play that could be read in the Salon Series?

When we landed on the theme for the Salon Series last season of “four centuries of comedy” I knew that I wanted us to do SHE STOOPS.  For me, it is one of the the funniest and most timeless comedy of the 18th Century, and is, in fact, arguably, one of the the greatest comedies in the English language of all time.   It’s very smart, very funny, remarkably modern, and completely relatable for audiences today.

2. What excites you most about transferring the play to the Mainstage? What are you looking forward to doing at the Clurman that you couldn’t do in the Salon?

One thing that particularly excites me about doing the play on the Mainstage – or anywhere for that matter – is working on it with such talented and accomplished actors; to have to opportunity to work on this rich material with so many of my esteemed colleagues at TACT (some of whom I’ve been working with for close to 20 years) is an enormous treat.  Then, having had the experience of initially exploring the play together in our Salon Series, we have the opportunity to build upon  that work in wonderfully unexpected ways.  Our production is going to be very physical and very theatrical, and, oh, so very engaging.  And, like our usual home at the Beckett, the Clurman Theatre is a delightfully intimate space, and our design for SHE STOOPS will make it seem even more so as we blur the line between stage and house in some really fun ways.

3. Why produce SHE STOOPS now, specifically? How does this 1773 play speak to your 2016 audience?

There are certainly plays that hold such truth that they speak to humanity   across generations.  I believe SHE STOOPS is such a play, and there is something to be gotten from it at almost any time.  Also, as we were thinking about what to present in the Fall of 2016 during a presidential election – and SUCH a presidential election – we all felt that providing our audiences with a good hearty laugh would be the most patriotic thing we could do.

4 .What do you hope audiences take away from She Stoops? What do you hope the cast and crew takes away?

As the ACTORS company theatre, we try to make the experience for all our actors – as well as our designers, stage management, wardrobe, technical crew, etc. – one that is artistically rewarding, memorable, and fun.     But it is always the audience’s experience that is the most important to us.  They are, after all, the final and most important element that completes the alchemy and makes an event a theatrical one.  It is our hope that we  will be able to bring a smile, a laugh, a chuckle, a gu ffaw, and, perhaps a tear of joy and a nod of recognition  to everyone that comes to see the show .  And provide a couple of hours when we can come together as a community and share a these hilarious characters, this rich language, and timeless humor as one.  Cause isn’t that what make theatre so vital and important to us all?

SHE STOOPS begins performances in ten short days. The play will officially open on October 16th and will run until November 5th. Single tickets are now on sale, and there is still plenty of time to become a TACT Member and subscribe to our 2016/17 season. You will get access not only to SHE STOOPS, but also our upcoming World Premiere of Jeff Talbott’s haunting drama THE GRAVEDIGGER’S LULLABY, as well as exclusive access to the four plays in our Salon Series. More information on how to subscribe can be found here.

SEPTEMBER 15TH – WELCOME!

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From left to right: Scott Alan Evans (director); James Prendergast (Sir Charles Marlow), Justine Salata (Constance), John Rothman (Mr. Hardcastle), Cynthia Darlow (Mrs. Hardcastle), Tony Roach (Hastings), Mairin Lee (Kate Hardcastle), Jeremy Beck (Marlow), Richard Thieriot (Tony Lumpkin)

After the newTACTics New Play Festival wraps up at the end of June, we enjoy a bit of quiet in the TACT office and studio for July and August. It’s a time for reorganizing, cleaning, and taking a break before it all starts again. Once September comes along things start to become lively. And for good reason, too: today marks the first day of rehearsals for our upcoming production of SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER!

SHE STOOPS is Oliver Goldsmith’s seminal 1773 comedy. The play tells the story of Charles Marlow, an aristocrat who is terrified of women of similar status but ironically comfortable with women of lower-birth, and Kate Hardcastle, a wealthy young noblewoman who, realizing Marlow’s sensibilities and preferences, “stoops” to win him over. With She Stoops, Oliver Goldsmith reimagined what English theatre was capable of accomplishing. In the decades leading to She Stoops’ penning, English theatre was consumed and defined by “sentimental comedy,” a genre Goldsmith publicly admonished and despised. Sentimental comedy was marked, in Goldsmith’s own words, by “insipid dialogue without character or humor… with a sprinkling of tender melancholy.” She Stoops was Goldsmith’s effort to reclaim comedy and redefine it not as “sentimental” but instead as “laughing.” And laugh audiences did; since its premiere SHE STOOPS has become a staple in the theatrical canon and is arguably one of the greatest comedies in the English language.

TACT’s audience is already familiar with SHE STOOPS and the laughter it brings. The play was performed just under one year ago as part of the Salon Series and so was well received and so invigorating to produce that it only made sense for TACT to move the play to the Mainstage for a full production.

This week, TACT entered that production with the first meet-and-greet and rehearsal here in our Studio. In attendance was TACT’s staff,  several of our Board members, and of course the cast and crew of SHE STOOPS. The cast is made up of six TACT company members, four of whom will be reviving their roles from the Salon Series reading. Additionally, two wonderful guest artists will be joining the cast. You can learn all about them and their backgrounds here.

The days festivities began with a cast and crew photo shoot. Director Scott Alan Evans then introduced the show and the cast and crew. He then spoke about the importance of audience involvement to TACT and to the theatre as a whole.

“We’re telling the story with the audience,” he said. “The audience is the last element. It’s all of us coming together in a room to make theatre what it is. We want to take that a step forward with this production. There’s so much direct address to the audience in this play that they are a member of the cast.”

As our audience and as a member of this cast, we invite you to go behind-the-scenes of SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER with this blog. You will get a sneak-peek at the show with photographs from rehearsals, guest blogs from cast members, and regular updates about the show’s progress leading up to its first performance at Theatre Row on October 4th. So visit us every week for new posts. Welcome to the production!