True American Theatre? Join us for Oleanna
JC Conway, Julie Hammond and Mark Gorman are no strangers to South of Broadway Theatre and the Next Stage series, having all participated in the inaugural production of No Exit. This time JC returns to direct Oleanna and Julie to play the student, Carol, and Mark the professor, John.
I’m quick to get the sense of Julie’s introverted nature. That she would rather curl up with a good book on her tablet, than start a shouting match may make her an unlikely Carol, or does it? In Oleanna we see her move through the gamut of emotions to get what she wants. Leading the way is JC, known for a longer history of controversial and provocative play choices (Red Light Winter, Closer, the Blue Room), than his current position as Artistic Director of Flowertown Players demonstrates. We see more of his style of directing here in Oleanna. Come and check out their work of the craft. The show opens Feb 5 at SOBTC and co-stars Mark Gorman. Mark was previously seen in 1963 (Threshold Rep) and A Steady Rain (South of Broadway.) Mark was unavailable at the time of the interview.
Q & A with Oleanna’s Director and Actress: JC Conway and Julie Hammond
SOBTC: Have you ever encountered an experience like that of Carol and her professor?
Julie: when I was in college several students (myself included) felt that a new acting professor was behaving inappropriately with the students. Somehow a classmate and I were elected to take the complaints to the department chair. It is very interesting to look back on the whole chain of events now that I am performing in this show. It kinda makes me question my involvement in that situation. He ended up on probation. I took part in putting him in that position…but on the other hand, I thought he was in the wrong. How do you decide between getting someone in trouble or just letting poor conduct go unchecked? I don’t know if I did the right thing…
SOBTC: What about you, JC? Any teacher/ student conflict?
JC: In Junior High on a dare I called a teacher a “big dumb ass.” But on a more serious level, my Freshman year in college I had to review a play for our Directing I class. I reviewed the instructor’s production of Julius Caesar and ripped it apart. He gave me a low grade and I contested it. It started off a tempestuous four year mentorship between us.
SOBTC: Did you prepare for this show any differently?
JC: Actually, yes, I have been reading Mamet’s book on acting True and False. While I might not agree with everything that he says in it, it does offer insight into his views on theatre and the relationship between the Actor, Script, and the Audience. Mamet has a style, and it is important to know how to honor that.
SOBTC: What is the language of Mamet’s plays like? How do you like it?
Julie: The language as you read it off of the page can seem very choppy and disorganized. It was harder to memorize because of that. It also tends to make me stutter sometimes, which I am working on.
JC: “Mamet Speak.” I find it to be a cross between Pinter and Tarantino. Although Tarantino developed his style after Mamet. I really like “Mamet Speak,” it carries a sense of true American theatre.
SOBTC: What else excites you about this play?
Julie: It’s thrilling because you never really know who to root for. Just when you think you’ve picked a side, something changes.
JC: The ambiguity of it. It allows for a lot of creative play by the actors and director. The slightest change in tone or contact can make a big difference to how the audience perceives the relationship.
Julie: The whole show is a massive power struggle. I think the audience will be on the edge of their seats wondering how everything is escalating so quickly.
JC: It is a roller-coaster.
Join us for this ride. Oleanna opens at South of Broadway Theatre Feb 5th and continues through the 14th, before moving to Flowertown Players Feb 19 –Mar. 1.
Tickets $20 CLICK HERE