So here I am entering the final week of the run of the show with already a feeling of mourning. Usually I get the sad-clown’s the week after a show closes, but with this one I am already getting misty. This show meant more to me than I possibly could have imagined, and I imagined it meaning quite a bit. Coming into it the play itself, on the page, is stunning and the challenges put upon me when cast in this role were immense: learning how to play the piano in under three months and then performing on stage with my newly pseudo-mastered skills; simulating seven orgasms within 2 ½ hours traffic on the stage; and finally, playing a character completely cut off from her body, emotions, desires, self-worth, self-awareness (I am typically cast as your nutty/goobery/sometimes chunky-with-a-paralyzed-elvis-impersonator-for-a-father/heart-on-sleeve kind of gal). These elements and challenges I had full knowledge of going into this and I had no-doubt I would be taken for quite a ride, as it were.
What I could not have foreseen was what transpired during the three weeks of rehearsal; a family was born. This crew, my fellow actors, my director, assistant director, stage manager, assistant stage managers, designers, even many of the admin staff, became the heartbeat of this production. It was, under the masterful direction of Aaron Posner, one of the more truly collaborative processes of my experiences as a theatre artist. We all could not believe how close we became in such a short process, and we hadn’t even opened yet!
And as the run has gone on and extended (twice!), that bond, though we have paired down the core of this new family and even added some newbies to the mix (Haylee our wardrobe lass is the BOMB, and I probably am spelling her name wrong) we have grown even closer and are still discovering things in the playing of this piece. I had an epiphany on stage about a line I give to Katie (Mrs. Givings) in our final scene, this past Sunday! To have a discovery this lovely so late in the game is one of the reasons why I do what I do. And as I told Katie about it after the show and as we sat crying and hugging about it, over one line, an interpretation of a line, and an inconsequential line compared to so many others, I knew that I will cherish and be humbled by this show for a long time.
I am entering the final week of the run with a spark in my soul, a swelling heart in my chest, and tears in my eyes. I will be ever grateful for this experience. Yahtzee.
~Kimberly Gilbert, Woolly Mammoth Company Member