Sunday, September 18, 2016

STOP KISS

Some of you know that I have been working on a play.  Some nights, I've been lucky enough to attend run-throughs as Rehearsal Assistant.  The entire time, I have been honored to be Associate Producer, supporting a director I admire very much.  Our play is titled Stop Kiss and, in order to advertise on the Broke Bridget blog, I asked to publish an interview with the play's director - Andrea Humez who was born, raised, and educated in our beloved Somerville / Cambridge, MA.

Please enjoy the interview and please come to our theatrical production, which opens this Friday!

Q1:  What is your hometown?
I have lived in Somerville since I was 4, except for a year in Chicago and a few years of college across the border in Cambridge.


Q2:  Was theatre a part of your childhood?
I fell in love with theatre early.  My parents took me to plays as a child, and I spent a lot of time memorizing the complete works of Gilbert & Sullivan, reading Noel Coward, and putting on plays with my friends at school or for our parents at home.   I went on to go to theatre day camp at Tufts University and Emerson College, and theatre has been one of my primary hobbies from high school onwards.


Q3:  When and why did you move into the role of director?
I joke it was a natural progression from plays I organized with friends in elementary school, but there is actually some truth in that.  I've always been the person who says "hey kids, let's put on a show!"  In 1997, I gathered a group of fellow MIT students and community members to perform Tom Stoppard's Arcadia in a lecture hall, which I ended up directing because I couldn't convince anyone else to volunteer for the job.  I enjoyed it so much that since then, I've directed as much as I've performed.

Directing for Theatre@First means taking on that "hey kids, let's put on a show!" role.  Unlike many other local community theatre groups, which choose a season of shows to perform and then recruit a director for each show, Theatre@First chooses shows based on proposals from prospective directors (or sometimes producers).  This means that every show is dear to the director's heart, and that each season represents the tastes and passions of T@F's core membership.  It also means that, more than in some groups, a T@F director is an organizer and administrator as well as an artist.


Q4:  How long have you been affiliated with Theatre@First?
I first got involved with Theatre@First as one of the directors for the 2006 summer one-acts festival.  That fall, I was cast as Margaret Fuller in The Margaret Ghost, and in 2007, I directed my first mainstage production for T@F, Arms and the Man.  Since then, I've participated regularly in T@F productions, both onstage and off.


Q5:  Why did you choose the play Stop Kiss?
Stop Kiss falls squarely into the sweet spot of my taste in plays: drama-with-humor, where the humor comes out of the characters' personalities and is often the characters themselves having a sense of humor; characters who are flawed but sympathetic; and a worldview that is hopeful without being cloying.  

The story focuses on two queer female characters, which is rarer to find in a published play than it should be, even in 2016.  Anyone [participating] in community theatre is aware the actor pool is heavily dominated by women, while there are many more roles available for male actors.  I feel strongly that it is important for community theatre groups to produce more plays that are women-centric, have a lot of roles for women, or are written by female playwrights.  (This very gender-binary description is merely the tip of the iceberg where issues of gender representation in theatre are concerned -- but that's a topic that deserves a separate interview/essay of its own!)

Finally, Stop Kiss makes a nice contrast to the three historical plays Theatre@First is producing this season: The Spanish Tragedy (August), Love's Labour's Lost (in Space!) (November), and Tartuffe (February).

Q6:  Can you share your vision for this production of Stop Kiss?
I see Stop Kiss as a love story, first and foremost.  I've actually struggled with the publicity for it, in that any story that contains a hate crime (as this one does) tends to get labeled in people's minds as an Issue Play or a Hate Crime Play.  I feel that the real focus of this story is the development of Callie and Sara's relationship and the decisions they make about their own lives and identities; the hate crime is a catalyst, but it isn't the main point of the story.

Stop Kiss is an intimate play that shines in its details, and I'm fortunate to have Anna and Jenny bringing Callie and Sara to life in their own, specific ways.  It's a pleasure to watch them navigating together through hopes, insecurities, false starts, and connections -- which is the true core of the story.


Q7:  What projects might you direct after Stop Kiss?
[No] specific next project planned, but I'm always on the lookout!  I'm on a permanent quest for my dream play with lots of female characters, strong narrative arc, and characters that are flawed but sympathetic.  If you have a favorite, send it my way!

My list of plays to direct before I die (but probably not in the next couple of years), includes: Water by the Spoonful (by Quiara Alegria Hudes), Burning (by Ginger Lazarus), Noises Off, Democracy (both by Michael Frayn), Talley's Folly (by Lanford Wilson), In the Next Room (by Sarah Ruhl), *something* by Gilbert & Sullivan, a cross-dressed version of Guys and Dolls...


Q8:  Plugs please!?
Audition for T@F's next show,  Love's Labour's Lost (in Space!), Monday August 29/Thursday Sept 1.  See www.theatreatfirst.org for details.