Every once in a while, a play really moves me. Not often these days, because I am too critical of what I am seeing.
It comes with the territory.
I’ve been practicing this craft now for some 55 years, and I know it well. I see things while watching a play that many would not, and that can make me seem a little jaded. Critical in a way that doesn’t serve me well as a spectator. I will often find myself observing from outside the world of the play, with too critical an eye. I watch the audience as much as the play.
Every once in a while, a play surprises me. “Indecent” is such a play. It surprises and moves. It resonates and becomes relevant to the time when it is written while enlightening another moment in time — one far removed from our own yet close enough to touch.
“Indecent” is on stage right now at the Old Town Playhouse. It is the Michigan premiere and one of the first community theater productions in the country of this incredibly well-written play by Paula Vogel, who is finally, after decades, receiving her just due.
It is a play well worth your time to see.
This wonderfully well-articulated production rises above the pedestrian or average. This production soars thanks to exceptional acting by an ensemble who have immersed themselves within the world of this play. They easily shift through numerous characters inhabiting each of them. They take risks, they show vulnerability, strength and fortitude as they tell their story. With energy and grace, they share this challenging story that spans nearly 50 years. I cannot shake its poignancy a week after seeing it.
Every once in a while, a play touches my heart.
In addition to the magnificent “Indecent,” are two other shows coming to our stages written by some incredibly talented women. “Love, Loss and What I Wore” arrives at the Studio Theatre in February. It’s written by the fabulous Nora and Delia Ephron and based on the book of the same title by Ilene Beckerman. A marvelous conglomeration of monologues about women and their relationships as touched off by their interaction with the clothing that was worn at key moments in their individual lives. With humor and keen observation, the Ephron sisters weave the experiences of a number of women to show us the fabric of a woman’s life. Nora Ephron is best known for writing “When Harry Met Sally” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” and with her sister Delia for “You’ve Got Mail.”
Every once in a while, a play envelops me. That play is “Silent Sky” written by the talented Lauren Gunderson, the most produced playwright in America with whom you are likely not familiar.
It tells the story of one of the great unsung women of the early 20th century, Henrietta Leavitt. Her astronomical discoveries during a time when women were relegated to workrooms where they were unseen were the inspiration for many scientists who followed her, especially Edwin Hubble who mapped the universe as we now understand it to be. She would have been the first female Nobel laureate if they awarded the prize posthumously. She died before it could be given. It was another 25 years before a woman would win the award. I am directing this play, hence my immersion.
Three superb works for the theater by exceptional women. I am humbled by their scope in time and space. I know you will be too. Indecent plays now through Feb. 1. “Love, Loss and What I Wore” plays in February, and “Silent Sky” in March. See you on the boards!