I am a Co-Founder of Ghostlight Productions in Clarks Summit and a theatre professor, director, designer at Summit University. I am also a regional actor, director, and theatre educator as well as a member of Art of Combat NYC; training and performing in the art of stage violence and fight choreography for the last 5 years.
What do you find exciting and challenging about this project?
This play is exciting because it is an intimate cast with creative props, unusual circumstances, and abstract concepts all wrapped up in this amazing script. The play is challenging because it is an intimate cast with creative props, unusual circumstances, and abstract concepts all wrapped up in this amazing script!
The unusual circumstances make this play exciting because we’re working outside theatrical norms; it’s also challenging because those same circumstances require a different rehearsal and preparation process—I’m pushed to do things and think about scenes in ways I’ve never done before. The weight of the script is also exciting and challenging. When a director works with a great script he or she should be excited because of the opportunity to work with such fantastic material. But there is also the responsibility of creating a production that serves the script, that elevates the material, and that brings it to life in way does it justice and allows it to shine. Not since I’ve directed Macbeth, have I worked with a script that I felt bore such weight in both content and style.
Have you ever worked with Gaslight Theatre Company before? How has it been working with them on this show?
I’ve seen a number of their shows, but I have never worked with Gaslight before. It has been a pleasure working with these creative artists. I have enjoyed not only the freedom that they have allowed me as a director, but also the enabling collaboration that they bring to the whole production. It’s an honor to be their director for this production.
What is it like working with a living and local playwright?
I have been privileged to be a part of several production teams that have worked with notable, living playwrights—Mark Medoff, Mary Ethel Schmidt, Jim Goode, and John Cariani to name a few. One of the things that makes this process so unique is that the living playwright is my wife, Rachel Luann Strayer. She and I have been working together on just about every project from our early years writing and performing plays together to co-founding Ghostlight Productions and bringing the first Shakespeare in the Park to NEPA to training for and performing fight choreography in NEPA and NYC.
On this production, we had the great benefit of having her attend the first three rehearsals as we did table work—reading the script and discussing the settings, the characters, their motivations, and exploring the many layers of the script itself. After that, I asked her to step out because I wanted the actors and myself to explore the script on our own, not reaching out to her for every little question we had. There have been a few times when we have reached out to her for answers, but very few. I want Rachel to have a new experience when she comes and sees our production of her work.
What is your favorite part of the process so far?
My favorite part of the process has been the actual process itself. I love the exploration and new discoveries that take place in rehearsals on a nightly basis. I love that my actors are asking the right questions of their characters and taking creative chances. I love this collaborative journey that we are all on together. While the process can be difficult and challenging at times, I believe we have all embraced it, and I love that.
What is your favorite line from the play (and who says it)?
Do I have pick just one? Some of my favorite moments of the play are the silences, the unsaid lines. It would be wrong, however, to relegate these silences as subtext—because they are just as important the words that frame the silences.
But, if I must choose an actual line, I’d go with the very last line of the play which is spoken by Jane, "Yes, you are." After the entirety of the play, the significance of this line rings out. You need to see it! And then come back and see it again!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Bring a towel; you might need it. :)
Drowning Ophelia opens January 28 at the Theater at Lackawanna College and runs through January 31. Head on over to our Up Next page to find out how you can see it!