CREATING CONTEXT

Well, I went to the meet and greet for my third MRT Performance as a cohort member, the next play Women in Jeopardy! A bit of the familiar, a bit of the new.  It was interesting to see the actors, interested in the cohort members, and talking to them, as they look to find out where stores are in the city.  Always nice to have new visitors to share the city with. I hope they find the food and drink delightful.

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The cast of Women in Jeopardy! Julia Brothers, Ashley Shamoon, Gail Rastorfer, Jessica Wortham, Lou Sumrall, and Jacob York.

From the first reading of the very dialogue-rich comic play, it seems  that Sean has again picked a group that both works well and connects with the writing.  Since this a show with outlandish laughs, I expect that the audience when they see the play will enjoy a real fun experience. I did find myself think of comedy as I watch the reporting of the death this week of Mary Tyler Moore.  There were a couple of interviews with Dick Van Dyke where he related to his reservations with working with a young woman, (who was only 23 at the time,) who was unfamiliar with what comedy required. But Mr. Van Dyke shared his amazement at how fast Ms Moore learned.  At one point he indicated it started with Ms Moore being the ‘straight’ man, and after a time he became the ‘straight’ man.  What all this relates to for me is that context, that is the environment is crucial to getting the job done.
After the first reading for the play there was a break, and most of the people that attended, left.  Being retired, I stayed to see what happened next.  Of course this is the time I get to see Sean make his contributions to the play. Contributions not in an authoritarian way, but as I have seen before in sculpting clay into the inner shape that needs to be expressed. I watched as the play was restarted, and page by page, Sean encourages the actors to explain what they understand as the experiences behind the characters. Of course Sean also explains his perceptions of the back story. Now in talking to Sean about this at the break, he explained that all this background creates the environment that the actors deliver the performance from a stronger base. I continue to be amazed at how a significant part of Sean’s contribution is to create context for people who have not worked together to become a cohesive team that delivers a top level performance. I have little doubt that given the players I have seen and the talent the MRT has in staging that everyone will really love this play.

-Richard Pitkin, Cohort

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Women in Jeopardy! runs February 15 – March 12.

http://www.mrt.org/Jeopardy

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