Reviews & Comments
"WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?"
"WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?"
Edge Media Network Review (Killian Meloy)
Boston theater fans have probably heard about the Lyric's upcoming production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," which turns out to be a timely tribute to playwright Edward Albee, who died in September at the age of 88. But don't miss your chance to experience Psych Drama Company's immersive production of the same Albee play, which concludes its too-brief run next weekend at the The United Parish of Brookline, located at 210 Harvard Street in Brookline (The same venue, as it happens, that's currently hosting the Actors' Shakespeare Project's "The Tempest").
Albee's has a way of making his characters sound as though they are speaking their darkest, most suppressed thoughts out loud. That's certainly the case here as long-haired George (Cliff Blake) and Martha (Wendy Lippe), who are personally and professionally tied to academic life at a university, draw another faculty couple -- the much younger Nick (Victor Kholod) and Honey (Kelly Young) -- into the complexities of their love/hate relationship.
The two couples meet up at the ill-advised hour of 2 a.m., after having already attended a faculty party where they first meet. The driving impetus here is Martha's sexual interest in Nick, a biologist who defies the stereotype of the wispy, socially awkward scientist. George, who seemingly is well-used to being bossed around and humiliated by the strong-willed and caustic Martha, responds with a mixture of bravado and passive-aggressive vengeance; Honey, Nick's sweet and sharper-than-she-seems wife, self-medicates as Martha puts the moves on Nick right in front of her.
In fact, all four characters make frequent trips to the bar, each guzzling his or her own spirit of choice: Gin, bourbon, and brandy are all on offer, and as the booze flows the intercourse (or various sorts) gets wilder and more reckless. Nick and Honey are caught in George and Martha's emotional vortex, but they don't pack up and leave; whether they are tourists in these emotional badlands or Stockholm Syndrome-afflicted hostages, the young couple seem fascinated despite themselves, unable to tear themselves away as the evening's events grow ever uglier and scalding truths emerge on all sides.
This production lost both of its male cast members shortly before premiering, so Blake and Kholod carry scripts in hand, and reference the pages as needed. That doesn't much detract from their performances (though on occasion Kholod does sound as though he's reading his lines aloud without interpreting them or giving them any emotional weight - a minor and intermittent distraction). No, the two actors are not entirely off book, but it's amazing how close they are to it given how little time they've had to rehearse and memorize.
In fact, the presence of the scripts only adds something to the way the play is presented, which is to incorporate the audience into the performance space as though they are invisible spectators in George and Martha's living room. Or maybe not so invisible; from time to time, a character will make eye contact with an audience member, explaining or justifying his or her point of view with a "Can you believe this?" manner, which creates a distinct bond between player and observer while somehow not rupturing our suspension of disbelief.
Crucially, this involves the audience in the quartet's ever-more-tightly shared mental state in much the same way that George and Martha's strange, all-consuming combat zone of a marriage swallows Nick and Honey. How do we feel about all this? What do we think about the complaints and anecdotes, and the facts and fantasies, we're hearing? We become part of the production in a lively and even thrilling way.
There's a free-for-all feeling about this production, a liberating sense of embracing rough edges. It's hard to tell which elements of the scenic design were planned and which are mere serendipity. The stains on the carpet could be a matter of using whatever could be scavenged -- or they could also be symbolic of the marriage that dwells in this living space, something worn in and worn out well past the stage of being comfortable, and right up to the red zone where threadbare verges on spontaneous dissolution.
The actors wend, stomp, and even dance among the scattered chairs and sofas that serve as audience seating as well as set pieces. In the end, we're caught in the web of this production's vision and energy as surely as flies in a spider's parlor -- and it's an illuminating, terrifying place to be.
Each show has an hour-long post-discussion component. Don't think you're getting out of it: The conversation begins the moment the final bows are taken. Sit back, surrender, and get caught up in Albee's wild, yet precise, architecture of madness and meaning.
Edge Media Network Interview with Wendy Lippe (by Killian Meloy)
Theater lore is full of stories of the happy accident, the disaster that somehow turned into a blessing, the wrong turn that led someplace exciting; so it was for the Psych Drama Company when, a week before putting up their production of Edward Albee's complex, and lengthy, drama "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," they lost the actors for both male roles.
It's not as though there weren't already some drama surrounding the... well... the drama, which is so well-regarded that it has achieved the status of a classic. With Albee's death in September -- even as Psych Drama Company was rehearsing the play with its original cast still, at that point, intact -- there was bound to be additional interest in the show.
Dr. Wendy Lippe, founder and Artistic Director for Psych Drama Company, was suddenly in the sort of position everyone finds herself in at one time or another -- living through a highly uncertain situation that was sure to make for a good story later on, but was, perhaps, not such a joy to have to untangle then and there in the moment.
With the play's short run of only eight performances over three weekends already two-thirds done, area audiences are running out of time to immerse themselves in the production -- pretty much literally; the play is staged in a space that's very much like a living room... the very living room where the action unfolds over a long and dark night of the soul for the play's four characters.
George and Martha are a long-time married couple with a raft of -- well, let's call them "issues," and leave it at that for now. Nick and Honey are a younger couple whom George and Martha have only just met. Their late-night cocktails lead into the sort of drunken abandon that you're going to have forgotten come the morning, or at least pretend you have forgotten about. And the audience? The audience is seated right in the midst of the action, so embroiled in the booze-fueled proceedings that you might very well find yourself wishing you could hop up and take the few steps over to the drinks cart to pour your own libation.
This is experimental theater, but it's also pretty much the way the Psych Drama Company operates. Even so, Dr. Lippe -- who plays one of the play's four characters, that of Martha -- tells EDGE in the interview below that this particular production was especially intense. Read on for more, now that the story can be told.
EDGE: This is quite a moment with regard to Edward Albee and his canon; The Lyric Stage is also producing 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf' next month, and Albee himself died a couple of months ago, which has brought renewed focus on his work. How did Psych Drama Company come to produce 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf' just now?
Wendy Lippe: It's really interesting how the whole thing played out. We always choose psychologically intense pieces that are going to stir people up. We want to have people really reflecting on their lives and their relationships. We always set [our plays] in intimate settings, so we've been at the [now defunct] Factory Theater in the past -- we had our 'No Exit' production there -- and we did a production of 'Hamlet' at the Boston Center for the Arts, in a very intimate black box in three-quarter round [configuration]; and we had an intimate black box space for our production of '[A] Streetcar [Named Desire]' that was in Rhode Island. That's always out aesthetic; we never want to use a proscenium stage. We always want to have the audience very close in to the action.
But this was the closest. We've never done something quite like this before.
EDGE: As you say, your production is experimental in terms of how immersive it is. What's behind this choice?
Wendy Lippe: I think a couple of factors came together to make this choice. The first one is just that since the Factory Theater closed, there's been this crunch for small theater companies. We're having a lot of difficulty finding places to perform, and the Factory Theater was a hub for so many small theater companies. So I began a search thinking about where are we going to be producing out next play, while also having a few plays in mind. One was 'Long Day's Journey Into Night,' and another was 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.' We were also planning to re-mount our 'Streetcar' production in Boston, because it was such a success in Rhode Island.
As I was looking at spaces, I was holding these productions in mind... and I walked into this parlor space at the United Parish Church, and I thought -- [Gasps] - 'Omigod, this is a living room! A very large living room, but it's a living room.' The larger theater space that they had downstairs, where the Actors' Shakespeare Project is producing 'The Tempest,' was taken, and it was also not the kind of space that we would ever perform in because we always do these more intimate, experimental sorts of spaces. I said, 'Wait a second: This is really interesting. Martha and George are in a living room. What if the audience is in the living room with them?' I started to get excited about all of the possibilities.
EDGE: The two male actors originally cast in the play both left the production a week before it went up.
Wendy Lippe: Not only did we have to replace two of our actors, but we also had to bring on a new consulting director. The loss of the director was as much about their wish to postpone the show, given the sudden loss of the actors; they very much wanted to re-cast, take our time, to do the show without script in hand. We'd been through a rehearsal process where [Kelly Young, who plays] Honey and I really just felt ready to do the show, and we felt that having actors on script -- really talented actors -- would add the kind of raw edge to the production. If we could just get the relationships going, and the connections between the actors, we hoped it wouldn't be too much of an interference for the production. We were hoping that would be part of the chaos of the show.
EDGE: When asked at the post-show talkback about the need for this last-minute re-casting, the cast just sort of giggled nervously... is this something you just can't talk about?
Wendy Lippe: I don't think it's wise to talk about it, because I think... there were conflicts, and we certainly want to be respectful of people and their reputations in the theater community. I wouldn't want to say anything that could be hurtful. But it was a difficult time for the cast. There were personality clashes and artistic clashes and promises that were made, people who thought that they could do certain kinds of things that they really couldn't do... [Laughs] Isn't that what 'Virginia Woolf' is all about?
EDGE: So how did Cliff Blake and Victor Kholod end up becoming part of the production at the eleventh hour, the way they did?
Wendy Lippe: Cliff Blake is an actor I've worked with in the past. He was in Psych Drama's inaugural production, of 'Hamlet' at the Boston Center for the Arts, and I just knew from having worked with Cliff that he was an incredible actor who gives so much, and is so generous -- even when he's on script, even during rehearsals. And you saw that: He's so present, and he's so connected with the other actors. I knew he would be fabulous.
And Lida McGirr, our consulting director, who also stepped in at the eleventh hour, also knew Cliff and also had worked with him. It was six degrees of separation, and people who had worked together in the past and knew that they could really trust each other on stage, and I think that really helped.
Victor was a surprise. I was getting some programs and things printed at FedEx Kinko's, and I know some people there because I frequent the business, and they said, 'Oh, you look kind of stressed out.' I said, 'Well, here's our situation... we've replaced one actor; we may have replace another -- we're not yet sure.' That was still in discussion [at that point]. 'And it's just a very stressful time because I'd like the production to go forward.' As you said, it's an interesting time [for this play] because of Albee's recent passing. So it felt important to me that we get an experimental production up and running now. I didn't want to postpone the performance.
So one of the guys at FedEx Kinko's said, 'You know, I have a good friend who I think -- from what I remember of the play and how you're describing the character of Nick -- might be a good fit for you. He's spent a lot of time in Boston, he was at BU, and he recently transplanted to New York, and he's looking for acting work.' It was just serendipitous. I got on the phone with Victor literally two hours later, and then twenty-four hours later he was on a bus from New York City to Boston.
EDGE: Physically, he's not anything like the way we hear Nick described; Nick is supposed to be this big, brawny footballer who played quarterback, and Victor Kholod is a slender guy. I wouldn't call him slight, but he's not this hulking fellow we imagine Nick should be... and yet, Victor has a presence that gives you that kind of read on the character so he doesn't ring false in the role.
Wendy Lippe: Right, and it's interesting how that can happen. In our 'Streetcar' production, Steve Sacchetti, who played Stanley, was a very slight guy. There was a concern that I had about having him cast, but the director, Nick Meunier, very much wanted him to play Stanley, and one of the things the reviewer commented on was how brilliant Steve's performance was. When he came out on stage, the reviewer said, there's no way! There's no way he's going to convince me that he's Stanley. And then he went on to talk about how Nick's physique disappeared as an issue because of what he brought to the role. He wrote a rave review about Steve Sacchetti, who does not look at all like a Stanley -- that would be the furthest thing from your mind as far as his physicality. It's really amazing when actors can do that.
EDGE: Along the same lines, Cliff Blake has a lively physical interpretation when it comes to George: Really funny, complex, sometimes charming -- sometimes frightening. Was that mostly coming from him, or was that part of what Lida McGirr looked to see in the part when she came on board as consulting director?
Wendy Lippe: It was a mixture of how Cliff saw the role, how Lida directed him, and also what Honey and I had been used to in terms of working with a George. We have been experimental in not only the staging of the show, but in terms of the characters. We wanted them to be different from what you usually see, and some of the ways that we were interacting with George were affecting some of the choices that he made. It was a combination of things that came together in a way that really worked.
EDGE: And speaking of Nick's wife Honey, I can't overlook Kelly Young, who plays that part. She's so terrific! I'm guessing that her casting was not as dramatic a story as the others?
Wendy Lippe: No. Oh my god, I'll never forget when Kelly came in. We couldn't stop laughing. She was just fabulous, and we just loved her. She's a dreamboat to work with; she's lovely, and she's reliable; she learned her lines when she said she was going to learn them. She showed up to rehearsal when she said she would be there -- she's wonderful and she's a phenomenal actress! It took me so long in rehearsal not to break out into hysterical laughter watching her. We were very lucky to find Kelly, and we hope to continue to work with her. She's just really dynamite.
EDGE: You play Martha. Why did you decide to take that role yourself?
Wendy Lippe: You know, I think I must have had some sense when I initially read the script again after all these years that it tapped into my own personal current struggles. For the play is about love, and long-term relationships, and the disappointment that we face, and the frustrations that we face with our own selves and with the people we're involved with intimately. Ultimately, it's our own demons we are seeking to heal through these relationships with others, but it doesn't really work. I think when I read the play I wasn't conscious of this at first, but I became conscious of it pretty soon; we started rehearsing in mid-September, and I thought, 'Wow: I'm aware of this. Not exactly as Martha expresses it -- I hope not! -- but there's something about this woman's struggles that I really connect with.'
I think Martha very much has ideas about who George should be, and the success that he should be, in order to make her feel better about herself; I think her early family of origin issues, having lost her mother early in life, and -- I believe -- having a father who never really did give her the time of day, being preoccupied with his wife's death and then with his own career, I think he really didn't pay much attention to Martha. So she talks on and on in this idealized way about him, but I think it's quite false. I think Albee intended us to see that. I think she was really hoping to find a way to live vicariously though somebody who would make her feel important, and help her heal some of those feelings of being unloved and abandoned. George's success would be that for her; of course, he fails, and he fails, and he fails, but she keeps trying to get him to be the man that she envisioned.
So I think not directly does this reflect my life -- certainly not; it's not the narrative of my life -- but it does tap into those deep family of origin feelings and those present-day close relationships with friends and colleagues and partners, where we're all struggling with those issues.
EDGE: I think you'd said you wanted to talk a little more about the timing of the production and Albee's death?
Wendy Lippe: We had just started rehearsing in mid-September, but we had cast our roles before the summer. We had done early casting because we wanted people to be off book, and George has a huge role. (It didn't end up playing out that way.)
It's a really interesting story: We were in rehearsal, and we were rehearsing the initial scene between George and Martha in a way that was playing with subtext. It was not the way we were going to perform it, and it had nothing to do with what was written; it was play, like you do in rehearsals, and we said, 'Let's just try this to see what we might discover.' It was so much fun, and we were just really exploring the subtext. And all of a sudden, our first Nick -- because this was in mid-September [before Victor Kholod took over the role] -- said that he'd just received a tweet on his phone that Albee had died. And all just froze.
It was a very eerie moment, because I'm sure you know the history with Edward Albee, that... I think he's the greatest American playwright of all time, but he was very, very strict, particularly with Equity houses. We're semi-professional, we are not Equity. But Equity houses had to get their lighting approved by him; their costume design; their set; their cast; everything had to be approved by him, and he was very, very rigid in terms of letting other creative artists bring their creativity to that script. He really preferred staged readings, where people would just stand at a podium and read his work. He did not like it when other people brought their creativity. The gay performance that was mentioned [in the post-show discussion the night this EDGE correspondent attended the play] was canceled by Edward Albee, who would not let the production move forward. In his contract he insisted that all of the genders remain as they are intended to be. Even as a gay man himself, he would not allow that gay production to move forward, and he canceled it right before the opening of the show.
So, you know, we wanted, of course, to be respectful; we loved the play. But it suddenly occurred to us... like, I said, 'Oh my god, I feel like I just killed Edward Albee!' Because here we had been in this rehearsal, just allowing ourselves to play... again, nothing that we would have put on stage... and we felt like had he been at the rehearsal, he would have had a heart attack!
I've been in correspondence with Andrea Shay from WBUR, and she just emailed me today wondering about how the Psych Drama Company might come together with the Lyric Stage to do a feature, even after our show closes, just to talk about these issues regarding Edward Albee and to talk about how future productions may be affected since he's no longer with us. It's a very difficult conversation to have, and I think it has to be handles sensitively because I'm in awe, as most of the world is, of Edward Albee, and at the same time he had this very scary way of limiting other artists' creativity. How do we talk about that in a way that is productive and that is helpful and respectful, and that potentially unleashes some very needed creative energy?
EDGE: It's a shame this production has such a brief run and has such limited audience sizes. What are you thinking about doing next? I know that the Psych Drama Company only does one play most seasons. Will that remain true this season?
Wendy Lippe: We do want to go back and do 'Streetcar' again, and we hope to do it in a more experimental fashion than we did before. I expect that probably will go up about a year from now. Unfortunately, because of my work demands, and [those of] other people in the company, and funding issues, we just don't have the funding or the hours in the day, at this stage in our development as a company, to do more than one or two productions in a year. My guess is it will probably be a year from now, but if we have some kind of luck strike, it could be sooner.
EDGE: Either way, nothing is going to happen to Tennessee Williams now that anyone can pin on you.
Wendy Lippe: What we've learned from this production is, with live theater you just never know what's going to happen! If you just embrace it, magic can happen.
BU Today Review (Joel Brown):
Most people who see Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, either on stage or in its iconic screen version, come away thinking: These people need therapy.
Now, Wendy Lippe (GRS’93, GRS’96) is giving it to them. Sort of.
“People always say, ‘What’s the connection between being a psychologist and being an actor?’” says Lippe, therapist by trade, actor by avocation, and artistic director of the nonprofit Psych Drama Company, which is staging Albee’s play on weekends through December 18 at the United Parish Church of Brookline, complete with post-show discussions led by mental health professionals. “I look at them, like, you don’t just know?
“(It’s) the interest in getting into the mind of somebody else and exploring their anxieties and their pain and their confusion and their ways of coping and in their relationships,” says Lippe. “I’m doing that with my patients, and I’m doing that with my characters.’”
Albee’s searing, Tony Award–winning drama from 1962 tracks George, a professor, and Martha, his wife, as they booze and fight and push each other’s buttons through one very long night, with a younger faculty couple, Nick and Honey, serving as guests, audience, and hostages. Many people familiar with the play’s emotional brutality may quail at the idea of an immersive production, but psychotherapists go where others fear to tread. The Brookline venue is a church parlor where up to 50 audience members can squeeze into what should feel very much like George and Martha’s living room. They’ll sit unnervingly close to Lippe, playing Martha, Cliff Blake as George, Victor Kholod (CAS’16, Questrom’16) as Nick, and Kelly Young as Honey.
At the Center for Anxiety & Related Disorders at BU (BU CARD), Lippe has served since 2000 as a clinical supervisor for doctoral students in the clinical psychology doctoral program, using her expertise in cognitive behavioral therapy to teach students how to treat patients. In her private practice in Brookline and Harvard Square, she uses both cognitive therapy and psychodynamic psychotherapy.
Albee’s characters appear to need all the psychological help they can get, as they meet for drinks in the home of Martha and George, famously played by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the 1966 film. Martha and George can’t wait to rip each other apart over old grudges and failed dreams, in a script generally taken as a biting commentary on the realities and illusions of marriage in the 1960s. Nick and Honey start out as relatively innocent bystanders, but innocence can’t be expected to survive such entertaining parlor games as “Hump the Hostess.”
“As the night goes on, the games get progressively more violent and sadistic and hostile, and all this bubbling-up stuff gets released,” says Lippe’s friend Goldie Eder, a social worker who leads post-show audience discussions with psychiatrists, psychologists, and other social workers. Lippe has long acted and directed for small theater companies in Boston, and a few years ago, a conference in Sicily on Greek tragedy and psychoanalysis led to a brainstorm: “What if you really integrated this completely and had psychiatrists and psychologists and social workers involved with every aspect of the production and had them leading talkbacks with the audience every single night?” Her aim is to bring more psychologically minded reflection to people in the community. It’s outreach. “We want people in the conversations to start to talk about the characters, because that’s safer, and slowly but surely begin to talk about themselves,” she says.
Psych’s first production, Hamlet, was staged at the Boston Center for the Arts in 2011, and after one show, a criminologist told the audience that everyone has the murderous impulses of Hamlet, Claudius, and Gertrude inside them. “People went nuts!” Lippe says, laughing. “They said, ‘That is not true, that’s not us. That’s them!’ And he said, that’s a problem. Because we all have these impulses, and being able to acknowledge them and talk about them is part of what helps us not act out.”
Psych has also produced No Exit (co-produced with the Algonquin Theatre Company), A Streetcar Named Desire (co-produced with the Rhode Island Shakespeare Company), and a staged reading of an adaptation of Macbeth at a psychiatric conference in Manhattan.
With all the emotion on stage, Lippe acknowledges she sometimes has to work to keep her two worlds apart. With a play like this one, “some nights I go home and I feel really sad,” she says, but “I think that there’s a zone I get into with my patients. You learn that, whatever the drama is on stage or in your life, you have a muscle that shifts you back into the space with your patient.”
Psych’s Virginia Woolf has also had its share of backstage psychodrama, with two cast members replaced just weeks ago after some uncomfortably intense disputes. The co-directors departed at the same time, to be replaced by Lida McGirr, now credited as consulting director. But, perhaps thanks to her professional background, Lippe seems to take it in stride. To her, the play is about the fantasies we have when we begin a new relationship and the realities that eventually intrude. Can we live with the truth and pick up the pieces and keep going together? That’s the question for George and Martha.
“Can we find a way to be intimate, or do we just throw our hands up and walk away?” Lippe asks. “In this day and age, walking away is easier. We see that in relationships all the time, and we’ve seen that in our production, sadly.”
From Edge Media Network's Review of Lyric Stage's Production:
Is it too soon after Psych Drama Company's immersive, explosive reading of Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" to head over to the Lyric Stage to catch their production of the same theater classic?
Not at all.
The two productions might share a text, but they differ considerably in approach and tenor. Psych Drama thrust the viewer into the action by putting actors, props, furnishings, and audience all into the very same room; in this case, director Scott Edmiston keeps spectacle and spectator separated in the usual sense, confining the action to the stage...
Testimonials and Audience Responses:
"I saw the original 1962 Broadway production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (with Uta Hagen) and I prefer this performance. Why? Because, this time, I felt greater compassion for all the characters. You conveyed the humanity within their tormented souls. Tearing up at several points, I was deeply moved by your ability to convey Albee’s larger theme: his portrayal of his characters’ search for salvation, their thwarted grief and fearful flirtation with Virginia Woolf’s ultimate solution—her suicide.”
-- Malcolm Owen Slavin
"The most moving and expert rendition of this classic play, Wendy and her troupe convey the sadomasochistic tie between Martha and George in ways both deeply insightful and disturbingly sensible. The post-play discussion was an additional treat where the actors generously shared their character development process. The whole experience was riveting and affecting. I’m still thinking about it, days later…"
-- Andrea Celenza
"Wendy Lippe and her fellow cast members provided their audience with a magnificent treat in The Psych Drama Company's production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf. We, the audience, sat in the middle of George and Martha’s living room and suffered along with Nick and Honey (who were visiting George and Martha at 2am in the morning after a faculty party). Passionate, courageous acting by the entire cast graphically demonstrated to us the swirling emotions underlying the tortured couple’s endless games, all intended to somehow find each other and reawaken their connection. Let’s hope that Wendy Lippe’s passionate commitment to using theater to help us all understand ourselves better remains strongly alive and that we can look forward to many more extraordinary evenings of great theater."
-- Ron Goldman Ed.D.
"THE WITCHES OF MACBETH"
"THE WITCHES OF MACBETH"
"I think the play is magnificent! Mesmerizing performances. "
"It was so enlivening to have a live theatrical experience that moved seamlessly into psychoanalytic discourse".
Dear Dr. Lippe,
[We] Just saw Phillip Freeman's The Witches of Macbeth at the Waldorf on Thursday. Your Lady Macbeth was as fine a portrait as we have ever seen or heard on stage, the last one we saw being Branagh's at The Armory (a dud) and before that Rupert Goold's at BAM (a marvel.) Congratulations.
--Eugene & Delia M.
"A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE"
"She is a fiery, passionate yet etherial Blanche. Wendy-moth burns bright in this extremely emotionally and physically demanding role.
Psych Drama Company and RI Shakespeare Company Present A Streetcar Named Desire
"Streetcar Named Desire is the famous Tennessee Williams play which revolves around the one-time southern belle Blanche Dubois. After suffering a series of tragic events, she arrives at the doorstep of her sister Stella, who lives in a rundown neighborhood of New Orleans. Blanche blows in like a gentle southern breeze but quickly comes into conflict with Stella's husband, Stanley. While Blanche attempts to maintain an air of refinement, Stanley is anything but refined and his brutish, animalistic and often violent ways clash with Blanche from the moment they meet until the play's perhaps inevitable climax...
"Likely to split audience members is the acting by Wendy Lippe in the role of Blanche. To her credit, she makes a big choice and seriously commits to it, and that should be applauded. Some will find it a brilliant performance that works perfectly while others will find it a less-than-brilliant performance.
"Sacchietti is an unexpectedly perfect Stanley and it's only unexpected because he doesn't, at first, look the part. He's kind of lean and wiry and rather clean-cut, almost all-American. As Stella, Howe also presents a real and believable woman who is caught up in circumstances she cannot control. In a sense she's trapped between two worlds and torn apart by them, a situation which Howe plays perfectly. Jon Brandl is also excellent as Mitch. While he does have an element of Stanley's rough, potentially violent manliness, he cloaks it in a sweet, loving and kind exterior. The rest of the ensemble, as various friends and neighbors, are also quite good in minor roles. What the entire ensemble has is great chemistry."
-Robert Barossi, BroadwayWorld.com
A Streetcar Named Desire
The play premiered on Broadway in 1947 and tells the story of what happens when faded Southern Belle Blanche DuBois moves in with her sister Stella and husband Stanley Kowalski. Blanche tells Stella of the “loss” of their ancestral home Belle Reve in Laurel, Mississippi, how it upset her so much that she took a leave of absence from her job teaching High School English and now needs to recover. Blanche blames Stella, who she claims deserted her to marryStanley and left her alone to deal with the illness and death of their father and the debts that led to this “loss.” Stanley is suspect of her stories from the beginning and eventually “finds her out” with disastrous results.The play deals with alcoholism, abuse, and mental illness. It is filled with passion and poignancy.
Wendy Lippe, founder and Producing Artistic Director of the Psych Drama Company, takes on the challenging role of Blanche with great success. She shines in all facets of this complex character. Margaret Howe as Stella shows us the iron glove in the velvet hand. She is by turns meek, determined and passionate. Stephen Sacchetti portrays Stanley, capturing the fire and ardor of the role perfectly. Jon Brandl is Mitch, the dutiful son who is entranced with Blanche until her true past is revealed to him by Stanley. His portrayal is perfect. Greata DiGiorgio as Eunice, the upstairs neighbor and “Mexican Woman,” is wonderful. Frank Brennan is Steve, Eunice’s husband, and he does a great job. Derek Bousquet is Pablo one of the card-playing friends of Stanley and the “Collector,” and the paperboy who is almost seduced by Blanche. He is terrific and I honestly didn’t think it was the same actor who played both parts.
Director Nicholas Meunier has done a great job with this talented cast.
Larry Siegel is Stage Manager and also plays the Doctor who appears at the end of the play. He handles both parts capably, keeping the performance running smoothly.
The set designed by JC Wallace is a suitably shabby representation of a dilapidated apartment in a run-down section of New Orleans.The jazzy pre-show music draws the audience in and takes us back to post-war Louisiana. The lighting by Anthony D’Uantano continues the mood.
This production also has Ted Eaton working with the cast as Fight Consultant and Dr. Phillip Freeman as Character Consultant. Those attending the final performance on Sunday will have an opportunity to hear Dr. Freeman discuss the character complexities after the show.
- Cindy Sue, Don Gillis' Little Rhody Theater
PRAISE FOR "HAMLET"
Psych Drama Company Puts Plays On Analyst’s Couch
"On stage she wears ripped jeans and a red bustier. There’s a gun. Lippe delivers Hamlet’s tortured soliloquies facing one of the huge mirrors, with her back to the audience. There’s something strange and powerful about it. At the end of the play the psychologist/actor chooses to leave one mirror exposed. It’s for Horatio, the last man standing in this tragedy.
But, Lippe says, it’s also for the audience."
-Andrea Shea, WBUR
Brookline Psychologist Takes On Hamlet
"Wendy Lippe spends her days dissecting the deepest crevices of her patients’ psyches. At night, she becomes Hamlet, inhabiting the tortured mind of Shakespeare’s famous prince."
-Teddy Applebaum, Brookline TAB
A Damned Fine Hamlet
"We (my daughter Elayna, sindrian, gwynraven, and myself) saw the new Hamlet from the Psych Drama Company at the Boston Center for the Arts last night.
Folks, this was amazing.
The use of a female Hamlet is not new (the actor/director, Wendy Lippe, has played Hamlet twice before). Nor is the obvious choice to make Hamlet lesbian. But they went so much further here.
First, there was the choice to not make any other gender changes (from a casting POV) other than Hamlet. The recent productions of Romeo and Juliet, Titus Andronicus, and Twelfth Night that I've seen have all played with a lot of casting changes, but focusing on only one role showed how that one change has a ripple effect.
There were, to be sure, other gender-oriented changes, notably in Ophelia (also a lesbian, for obvious reasons), and Rosencrantz and Guldenstern (implied to be homosexual, not the first time that casting choice has been made). But the focus of the play was not on the sexuality alone.
This was a play about Hamlet's madness. Again, not the first time. Pretty much any good Hamlet is going to be about Hamlet's madness, with the question being to what degree the insanity is for show. A lot of this has to do with how the ghost is displayed, and the choice here was to imply that, while there was clearly something out there (Horatio and company see it, after all), the message might not have been what Hamlet thinks it was. And Hamlet switches from early melancholia to batshit crazy early on, with the implication that Hamlet is crazy, and pretending to be crazier.
But there's a brutal, horrible moment about 2/3 of the way in when the audience (and at least one other character) figures out that Hamlet is completely sane (other than possibly his message from his dad). Even at that moment, actions occur that then do drive her mad. It's brilliant, painful to watch, and one of the best choices I've seen in a long time. Not spoiling it because if you're local, I want you to see this.
There's a lot of sex and violence here; the "get the to a nunnery" scene is one of the most erotic ones I've seen on stage in a while, and if you've ever wanted to see Claudius mostly bare-ass, you'll get your chance. But there's a lot of humor early on, most around Polonius and the gravediggers (of course), but also with Rosencrantz and Guldenstern, who are given layers and depths not normally scene outside of a Stoppard play. One big choice here was to have R+G be the leaders of the players, providing them with a greater conflict as Hamlet uses them to flush out Claudius. It's a risky choice that works brilliantly.
The cast is amazing. Lippe is powerful, conveying hurt, mirth, and insanity wonderfully, and she plays off an incredibly talented cast. Horatio, Gertrude, and Ophelia were all delightful, but Claudius really steals the show. One of the problems with a lot of productions is that that the actor playing Claudius usually goes for the big oratory, but never conveys the sense of pure evil the role needs (assuming you're not seeing one of the productions that portrays him as less than evil, a valid choice, but not what was made here). The Claudius here (note that I don't have my program with me, which is why I can't name names) is perfect, evil without being comical, loving Gertrude even as he plots to kill her daughter.
The choice to make the setting modern and chance the finale from fencing to chess actually allows them to explain the whole "Laertes dies first" thing nicely (as anyone who watches is will see).
Each performance also features a brief post-show lecture on one psychological element of Hamlet. It's a nice touch, but if you're planning on leaving after the performance (understandable, as it's nearly four hours), sit in the center or on the side closest to the door, as the speech starts immediately after curtain calls.
There are eight performance left, running through the 17th. If you're local, try to catch one of them. Good, cheap Shakespeare (tickets are $25 each, $20 for students; you can also use Goldstar to knock the price down to $16.50 after service fees) is one of the great things about living in the Boston area, and this is one of those productions I'll remember for years.
It was also Elayna's first production; I suspect it might have ruined future productions for her. Ah, well."
"Alan R. White gives an intriguing frat-boy quality to Laertes..."
"It's Linda Monchik's tough, tortured Gertrude who does most justice to Shakespeare's vision..."
"Lippe is an accomplished actress, and her Hamlet is a woman of strong emotions: anger, passion, remorse, sarcasm, anger..."
-Jeffrey Gantz, Boston Globe
"The simple set for The Psych Drama Company's production of Hamlet makes manifest the greatest aspect of Shakespeare's play. Three mirrors, stretching from ceiling to floor, engage all of us, actors and audience alike. It's the introspective self-awareness of his own shortcomings that makes Hamlet Shakespeare's greatest tragic hero and Psych turns the inside out, outwardly presenting the audience with the play's internality. Psych's production - starring director Dr. Wendy Lippe in the title role - bares the psychological processes and struggles of the characters, laying them out in harsh light. Dialogues are conducted between reflections and monologues are delivered to the self, with a back to the audience, yet all are in view.
"Overall this was an impressive undertaking for the drama group's maiden production. The idea behind the reinterpretation was well conceived, and if Psych Drama Company keeps at it they're certain to grow into the ambitious psychoanalytic-qua-theatrical role they have set out for themselves."
-Laura Brubaker, Allston-Pudding
"Wendy Lippe and The Psych Drama Company have done a magnificent job of bringing the agony and complexity of Hamlet's psyche to us. The vision for the play is executed in Lippe's careful attention to interpreting the text in ways that illuminate the family dynamics interpersonally, and show Hamlet's internal struggle to find her place in it, tragic as it is. Lippe slows down the speeches and action so that we are able to inspect in microscopic detail and metabolize the motivations, meanings, and expressions of feeling put forth by Hamlet et al. This aesthetic choice allows the audience to peer into the internal mind and soul of Hamlet as the therapist or psychoanalyst would, lingering and reflecting on each element and new revelation of Hamlet as she unravels in the wake of her father's demise and comes to consciousness about the course of action that she ultimately, fretfully takes. The actors are uniformly superb in their ability to dig deep and work as an ensemble to give us this riveting look at a classic we think we know, yet here come to know at a whole other level. This is a fine piece of work."
-Goldie Eder, LICSW, BCD
"This is an outstanding performance. It is the most refreshing interpretation of Hamlet that I have ever seen. And, I have seen many. Congratulations to the full cast on a fine job carrying out Dr. Lippe's vision."
-Arthur Gray, Ph.D.
"I could 'wax lyrical' for paragraphs about the unique perspective, the Herculean 'feat' of 'taking on' the interpretation AND the acting of Hamlet...and....and....and....
...Just a short note to send KUDOS to Dr. Lippe and everyone involved with the wonderful and unforgettable production!"
"This is a must see performance. Wendy Lippe is astounding in her versatility as an actress as well as a director. The discussion following the performance although too brief was a great reminder of the timelessness of Hamlet and its universal themes as relevant today as when it was written."
"Wendy Lippe is a superb actress and director. Whether or not you are a Shakespeare person (and I am not), if you would like to treat yourself to an amazing production and performance of Hamlet (in contemporary dress), this is the final week (Wed thru Sat). Wendy's direction is imaginative and her performance is nothing short of spectacular. The presentation takes place at the Boston Center For The Arts, Plaza Black Box on Tremont St. Tickets are available at Bostix and at the theater and are very reasonably priced. There is a convenient parking garage on Clarendon St, just a few blocks from the theater. Ellen and I saw the production this past weekend and were thrilled. It is a true gem!!"
"I went to the last performance of Wendy Lippe’s Hamlet, and I’ve been reading the comments of other members of the audience back through earlier performances. Most people have been very positive. And while the number of people who actually given reasons for this reaction is thin, some did, and those have perked me up. I am feeling myself, however, that there is something in this play, and in this particular performance, that most – maybe all who have commented —have missed, and it is very important. So I’ve decided to put my thoughts into the mix of comments in the hope they will spark some reactions.
"I have always found, in Hamlet, the playing out of an age-old dilemma of the human spirit: the conflict between a thinking person’s world and the world of a person who is driven to action by strong unthinking emotions. Shakespeare puts Hamlet in a position in which those emotional tugs are powerful ones: revenge for a father’s murder, a murderer who seduces and marries Hamlet’s mother, and who wields the ultimate power of a king. But we also find out that Hamlet is a person of thought. Why go to the trouble of putting on a 'play within a play' if not to avoid just jumping to accept those ghostly words (from the start Hamlet is already raising questions about Claudius’ marrying his mother so quickly after his father’s death). Rather, Hamlet seeks to find evidence that what the 'ghost' said was true, and was not a projection of a troubled mind. Count one for reason in this round! And Hamlet reasons about suicide in 'To Be or Not To Be'. How many people in a state of despair who have committed suicide have tried to reason through whether or not to do it? This tension in Hamlet is almost unbearable! But as the play progresses, Hamlet’s reason seems to be winning. Even after becoming convinced that Claudius 'did it' when Hamlet has a chance to kill Claudius Hamlet realizes that simple revenge will not serve the interests of justice, and refrains. Another point for reason. In the Lippe performance the tension in this scene especially – and think of how powerfully tempting simple revenge must be here -- is played beautifully.
"Hamlet as a female is what drew me to this version of Hamlet. I asked, 'If Hamlet was a woman, what would that do to the multitude of themes and sub-themes in this play, but especially to the power of this basic dilemma that Shakespeare wants us to feel in this play?' Now that’s an intriguing question! And indeed, this change brought with it many other interesting changes in the relationships in the play: Hamlet and Ophelia, Hamlet and her mother, Claudius and Hamlet, all played wonderfully, and clearly, by Lippe. Did that overpower Shakespeare’s basic theme about this abiding conflict between thinking and emotion? Well, what I saw that Saturday night was that theme put in a new light that made it clear as a bell. Think again of Hamlet’s chance to kill Claudius and how those two forces were portrayed by Lippe. It showed this tension now etched in Hamlet’s soul and how, unresolved, something like that can bring a person to the brink of madness.
"My point here is that in this performance gave us a portrayal of this dilemma more clearly and forcefully than any other performance of this play that I have seen. Was this enhanced by the additional layers that Lippe’s female Hamlet brought to this play? Well, YES, that new light, with its own complexities, made this dilemma stand out. That’s what I really loved about this performance. I will think about it for many years to come.
"Then there’s the last scene. Shakespeare turns the tables on all of us. It is emotion – revenge, anger, hatred – that wins out in the end! Every death in that scene, especially Claudius’ own at Hamlet’s hand, is the result of passion, revenge, anger, fear. No justice was served by any of these. There is no way to not react in kind to those final despicable acts of Claudius. Or is there? Is this Shakespeare telling his 17th Century audiences something he perceived about themselves? I think maybe more than that! Shakespeare, through this masterful performance, is giving us, now, in the first part 21st Century, the same message about ourselves. This performance, especially with a female Hamlet in this play, shows us the universality of Shakespeare’s message.
"But is it inevitably universal? Everyone in the world should see Lippe’s Hamlet and hear Shakespeare’s message through it – and do something about it that will make this a message that will not be true of the next generation and the generation after that in this Century. In a world of nuclear weapons, rapid communication, and sophisticated technology, our survival as a human race may depend on that!"
"I thoroughly enjoyed the performance and found it to be riveting. I would not have realized the production was 3 ½ hours long had I not been told of its length and advised to visit the bathroom before being seated. This Hamlet was certainly not the version I studied in high school, but I found it to be extremely innovative while still respectful of Shakespeare. I truly look forward to the next play from the company."
"Pertaining to a comment below about the director's creating a 'self-aggrandizing' production... Among other things, Hamlet is one of the penultimate explorations of the impact upon an individual's sense of worth (e.g. 'to be or not to be') in the context of betrayal by family and friends. The play focuses intensely upon the choices of this one person, Hamlet, and the consequences of those choices. IMHO, this production's use of mirrors, along with its depiction of an act of sexual abuse and its manifestation of the Ghost of Hamlet's father, are provocative directorial choices that bring into the realm of physical metaphor what is going on inside Hamlet. Saw this play over a week ago and still thinking about it, which is a great compliment."
-To BE, WBUR.org
"I'm among those who were very impressed with this production. I just wanted to add that the gay aspect of this Hamlet production struck me as being more ambiguous than overt. If one looked literally at this production, then one should be bothered by the fact that Ophelia's two brothers are from different racial backgrounds. Considering the amount of suspension of disbelief required to enjoy any play, I decided that gender wasn't particularly important. That's not a bad thing to take away from this production!"
"I saw the final performance and thought Dr. Lippe's performance was awesome! Furthermore, when considering the fact that she directed and played the lead role her performance and the performance of her cast was even more impressive. I have become a big fan of Psych Drama and look forward to future productions!"
"Brilliant insights into complex characters who have fascinated theater goers since it was written. Hamlet has beckoned to actors for generations and Dr. Lippe has risen to the challenge with acumen and power. As a director, she has focused attention on the other characters as well, particularly the women. Gertrude and Ophelia are portrayed with great sensitivity. The after-performance discussion was interesting-I wish I could have heard more of them. All in all, a most satisfying theatrical experience. Kudos to everyone involved with the Psych Drama Company!"
"I saw the play and found it to be something new for me. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who appreciates different interpretations of a story that has experienced its fair share of coverage over the years. I believe that the bold approach that I observed was a wonderful way to grab my attention. Very enjoyable."
"The black-box set is well conceived, a simple sequence of mirrors in which the actors (and the audience) can study their reflections...
...The music by Varsity Drag is, in its pulsing mystery, atmospheric..."
-Jeffrey Gantz, Boston Globe
The Psych Drama Company Launches: Shakespearean and Greek Tragedy Through a Psychologist’s Lens
A new Boston-area theater company is set to pull back the curtain and reveal the psychological underpinnings of classical Greek and Shakespearean drama. The Psych Drama Company will unveil their first production, Shakespeare’s "Hamlet," from Nov. 30 to Dec. 17 2011, at the Black Box Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts. Shakespeare’s tragedy will take place in a contemporary setting that highlights the psychology behind the thoughts, feelings and motives that drive the characters in the play. Their production also features original music composed by Boston indie band Varsity Drag, adding to the play’s contemporary, edgy feel. In this new interpretation, Hamlet is a woman and the sole heir of a wealthy, dysfunctional family in an isolated world with few social connections. The play examines the dynamics of individuals and families caught up in an increasingly complex and tragic web of events.
Wendy Lippe, Ph.D., who founded The Psych Drama Company in December 2010, is a clinical psychologist who was on the faculty of Harvard Medical School for over a decade and is currently an adjunct assistant professor at Boston University. Lippe has hit the boards herself in the past, when she played the part of Hamlet, portraying the character as a woman for the Sporadic Evolution Theatre and later in a production by the Algonkuin Theatre Company. For the upcoming production at the BCA, Lippe will wear a new hat – that of director.
A reviewer for the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, who attended Lippe’s performance as Hamlet in the Algonkuin production, said "Lippe’s feline ferocity energizes the production with the breath of authenticity" and called her performance "invigorating" and "delightfully unhinged." In a Boston Globe story about Lippe’s decision to play Hamlet as a woman, author Denise Taylor says in Shakespearean parlance: "to be or not to be a female Hamlet is no longer a question for Wendy Lippe." In explaining her acting choices when trying to infuse the character with female traits, Lippe told the Globe "I try to integrate more emotional and physical expression…and integrating that expressiveness with the more obsessive quality feels like integrating both a female and a male sensibility," Lippe said.
Part of the Psych Drama Company’s mission is to explore what makes people tick and what brings out the best and worst in human behavior. After a theater-goer experiences a Psych Drama production, the Company’s aim is to help audience members reflect on themselves through a psychological prism. The Company is especially interested in Shakespearean and Greek tragedy, but plans to offer a broad range of dramatic works to explore the depths and complexities of the psyche. Its works are targeted at professionals in the mental health community as well as the general public.
In keeping with this mission, The Psych Drama Company is planning to have mental health professionals, in Boston and New York City write "jargon free" papers which they will then present prior to individual performances. The idea behind these papers, which will be free of psychological lingo, is to stimulate insight and encourage audience members to get in touch with their inner-most thoughts and feelings. The authors of these papers will also be invited to collaborate with the company’s artistic team to help shape the performances. As an alternative to formal paper presentations, authors may choose to prepare abstracts (without a full paper) which they can then use to generate discussions with our audiences.
"Our use of classic dramatic works will be an exceptional tool for the exploration of the internal landscape of the human soul. Although we are particularly interested in Shakespearean and Greek tragedy, we will utilize a broad range of dramatic works to explore the depths and complexities of the human psyche. We are eager to continually expand the work that we do while becoming an established part of the local theater scene," Lippe says.
Lippe hopes the Psych Drama Company’s approach to theater will be at least a partial antidote to our fast-paced world of technology and social media, where she says "it’s easy to lose track of one’s own inner-workings."
For more information contact: Wendy Lippe, Ph.D., The Psych Drama Company, 617-275-9167. www.thepsychdramacompany.com.
About the Boston Center for the Arts: The Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) is the nonprofit performing and visual arts center whose mission is to support working artists to create, perform and exhibit new work; to develop new audiences; and to connect the arts to a broad public. For more information, visit www.bcaonline.org.
-Nancy Rabinowitz, (Former) Director of Publicity
PRAISE FOR "NO EXIT"
"Dr. Lippe, I have rarely been as caught up in the immediacy of a drama as I was last night. You and your cast were brilliant. Thank you!"
Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1944 plays about three people in Hell is what you might call a psychological tour-de-force-majeur. Over the course of a little more than two hours, this trio of strangers writhe and slither over one another, creating knotty bonds of allegiance, dependency, attraction, enmity... all the ingredients for an eternity of kaleidoscopic mental and emotional torments.
The transgressions of these three range from the mundane and expected (sexual sins such a lust, adultery, possessiveness, and jealousy; sins of commission, such as manipulation and murder; sins of omission, such as neglect and scornful emotional deprivation) to the sublime. (Is cowardice a sin? How about layer after layer of self-deception and ultimate over-compensation?) The play’s most famous line has it that "Hell is other people!" ("L’enfer, c’est les autres") but there’s more to this utterance than the surface meaning of misery imposed by means of those in one’s company.
The setting is deceptively placid. Three couches in the "Second Empire" style sit in a parlor; a bronze sculpture sits on a mantle, along with a lamp. There’s a buzzer button to summon help from a staring, long-fingered minion (Jeanine Frost), whose posture and eager, cruel smile suggest a predatory nature that could involve a tearing of meat and a crunching of bone -- or the equivalent in terms of a human soul. This minion (a demon? A damned soul serving time?) refers to the post-mortem occupants of Hell as "guests," as though the underworld were a grand hotel, and in a way it is: A succession of rooms and corridors, and that, the minion assures the new arrivals, is all.
The room’s first new guest is Garcin (Robert C. Latino), the publisher of a "pacifist newspaper" whose attitudes toward war and peace turn out to have been informed by his desertion of the ranks during the Second World War. Not that his having fled the field of battle changed his earthly fate, which involves a bullet-riddled death. How he arrived at that end comes to light slowly, and as much through implication as statement; as we learn about the choices that led to his destruction and damnation, we also become privy to the suffering he inflicted upon his wife, a creature Garcin looks upon as soft and weak. Like any bully, he dishes out cruelties to her as much because of her failure to reproach him as because of his own selfish and overriding desires.
We find these things out through the insights of the two women who join Garcin, mostly Inès (Wendy Lippe), a lesbian with a penchant for treating other people like pieces on a game board. Inès conceives a raging lust for the room’s third occupant, Estelle (Judith Kalaora), who at first seems sweet and innocent (if somewhat over-refined to the point of snobbery), but whose failings are just as spectacular as those of the others.
There are a few superficial elements to the play that could distract one from the deeper cross-currents of the text; Garcin’s sexism, for example (he regrets being lodged with women because men would, like him, know the value of silent introspection), or the implicit message that Inès is in Hell as much for being a lesbian as for her pitiless and hard-hearted way of treating others. (Though, it’s only fair to say, Estelle’s perpetual need to define herself in terms of the men she seduces is presented as just as much of a mortal flaw).
But there are deeper layers to be pondered once one looks past those surface features. Similarly, the characters seem to be gifted with an ability to see through the walls of Hell into the world of the living, at least with respect to the places and people that were once part of their own daily lives. They tune in with anxiety to what others have to say about them; they peer into the rooms in which they once dwelled, and react with shock and horror to the things that the new occupants of those rooms do (and the things that former colleagues and relatives say about them).
Clearly, if "Hell is other people," it’s just as much defined by an inability to escape one’s own ego; this is true for every single moment of eternity, because the damned are denied even the temporary reprieve of sleep.
It’s into the labyrinth of ego that Sartre follows these three doomed souls, who worm and ferret their way through each others’ secrets and lies but have a limited ability to plumb their own dark depths, despite Garcin’s stated desire to "sort out" his life after the fact and Inès’ awareness of her own streak of wickedness (characteristics that deftly, and with great insight on Sartre’s part, create a bond as powerful between the two as love).
Each performance of this co-production between The Psych Drama Company and Algonkuin Theatre Projects offers a post-show discussion that offers illumination on the play’s comments on the human psyche, and the inferno that is human relationships, both between individuals and between each person and society at large.
Director Marty BlackEagle-Carl (who is also Algonkuin Theatre Projects’ Producing Artistic Director) has no problem summoning the setting in the performance space of The Factory Theatre, and the actors bring vivacity to their roles; they visible itch and writhe in the confines of their nicely furnished room, and Kalaora summons tears at a couple of junctures in a way that shows that her character’s girlish innocence is not entirely a guise.
This play is regarded as existentialist, but in a way wants to go beyond the problems of time, meaning, and human existence. The characters complain about Hell’s heat and stuffiness; the audience sweats right along with them.
-Kilian Melloy, EDGE Media Network’s Assistant Arts Editor
"I truly enjoyed your production of No Exit. I had to have a primer though since it’s not a mainstream play and also because I anticipated that there had to be a deeper message for it to be a Psych Drama Company project. I was motivated to learn about the play and to understand Sartre’s ideas. It is an intriguing and captivating play, I'm glad Psych Drama chose to take on the challenge. Dr. Lippe gave a great performance! I’m always amazed, it’s not only that she interprets a character with great intensity, she also adds a certain (something I’d call) ferocity that draws one into the story. The talented cast was well chosen and was also very compelling in delivering the message of the play, and the characters’ fear, anguish, despair - the process of realizing Sartre’s argument: L’infer, c’est les autres! I appreciated the post performance discussion as well. Late into the evening though it was, I appreciated the ideas and thoughts that the moderator and participants expressed."
"To me the play and its message coming about so close to the end of another relationship appeared like a uncanny coincidence. It became more personal and somewhat eye opening for that reason."
"If based on Sartre’s view expressed in the play, relationships between people are plagued by inauthenticity, self-deception in so many ways, loving relationships must also be tainted. Yeah, what about love? If what Sartre said is true we’re doomed, we’re never going to find or attain that true, unconditional love. We may declare it but are we being true to ourselves, or do desire and the need to be loved trump us? I looked to see if Sartre addressed the love topic and sure enough I found a bit about his take on ‘authentic’ love and the redemptive solution. Phew, I guess there’s still hope!"
"I want to tell you that I was BLOWN AWAY by your performance of No Exit on Saturday night. I had never experienced theater in such an intimate setting, so that was something very powerful for me ... but your performance, Dr. Lippe, specifically, was so strong! You sounded so different from the person I spoke with offstage - you were so fully in character, it was like you truly were a different person. We were all very impressed!"
The Psych Drama Company combines psychological insight with dramatic art
to explore the timeless complexities of the human soul.
The Psych Drama Company is a 501(c)3 certified non-profit organization.
© 2015 The Psych Drama Company/Pandora’s Box Productions, Inc.
© 2015 The Psych Drama Company/Pandora’s Box Productions, Inc.