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Workshopping Tennesee Williams

I’m having fun getting back into my theater groove this month, workshopping scenes from the iconic Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. It’s part of a directing workshop taught by Karen Kohlhaas, co-founder of the Atlantic Theater Company. I’ve admired her work for several years, when a friend told me about her breakthrough monologue class. I’ve used her book as a study guide and found it tremendously useful. Her approach empowers the actor to be their own director, to decide on the shape and meaning of a scene/monologue. And then to do the inner work to bring that story to life. I’m a huge fan. In class I get to perform the role of Mae, the eavesdropping, power-hungry, super-fertile sister-in-law who is desperate to secure her place in her dying father-in-law’s will. I also get to watch Karen teach directors and fine-tune their styles, see how she applies her techniques to the whole arc of a story, and all the actors in one scene. And ~ I got to attend a series of guest lectures that Karen organizes. Most excitingly, I met playwright / director Neil LaBute!! I was so surprised by hearing him speak. He writes really harsh plays, where people are most often cruel to one another. But he is the nicest, most down-to-earth guy. His key message to us emerging artists was to keep putting our work out there. To not worry so much about where it might lead. To focus instead on developing yourself and your craft, and finding opportunities to connect with other artists and produce your work. When I chatted with him after his talk, and told him that I had produced one of his plays 2 years ago (and played the lead), he commended me on getting out there. Booyah.

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