Getting Adventurous with ‘Drunken City’

James Kennedy

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Photo by Chaoyu Li

In covering Whitman’s latest production, “The Drunken City,” The Pioneer sat down with the four leading ladies of the production: the three lead actors and the director. Senior Florence LeBas directs first-year Haley Forrester as Marty, sophomore Maya Kozarsky as Linda and senior Alexandra Schaffer as Melissa in the play originally written by playwright Adam Bock. The story concerns the adventures of three brides-to-be who begin to question their futures after a wild (and drunken) adventure in a big city. An in-person interview was conducted along with a follow-up email concerning the lack of leading women in theater. Their answer from this follow-up interview was inserted into the article.

Without further adieu, let’s head into the drunken city.

Pioneer: What sort of difficulties do you run into when trying to recreate an existing source material, both in directing as well as acting?

LeBas: One of the biggest difficulties in this particular play is [the language of] Adam Bock, the playwright. He has a very particular language style, and it takes some getting used to … He doesn’t write in commas, like, ever. His writing is very fragmented.

Kozarsky: I think also just reading it for the first time is like … do I want to audition for this play? So I’m gonna go read it … It took me a long time to pick up on it. You always want to get the words right, you never want to paraphrase, no matter if it’s been done before, or the director’s your writer or anything like that.

LeBas: I guess one of the [other] big difficulties of this particular play is that it requires the “world to tilt” … that’s one of the stage directions … I know in the original production, in New York, they had a hydraulic stage, that, you know MOVED. We have to find ways to do that on our own.

Kozarsky: Minus the hydraulics.

LeBas: Yeah, minus the hydraulics (laughs).

Pioneer: Not in the budget?

LeBas: Yeah, we definitely don’t have the budget for that.

Pioneer: Have any of you seen the play performed live?

Forrester: Something I try to avoid doing is –– if I can help it –– to avoid watching other versions of the show, or clips of scenes on YouTube or anything, just because that will get a different idea stuck in my head.

Schaffer: You’re trying to recreate something you’ve already seen.

LeBas: We have kind of a gift in this play in that it was written in … 2008. So it has only been performed a handful of times. It’s not like we’re doing Shakespeare where we’ve seen … about a million adaptations of it. We get to form it on our own without all of that.

Pioneer: On a more serious note, let’s talk about women in plays. A lot of plays aren’t women-centric, but this one has both female leads as well as a central theme, and, for this production, a female director. As women, did the play speak to you in a different way or influenced the direction you’ve taken with it?

Schaffer: What struck us most about the cast of “The Drunken City” was the equality of the characters. Not really even in terms of there being three men and three women … but that everyone gets their “moment” in the play …  A lot of women are involved in Whitman’s theatre department, so it is nice to come across a play that gives the same number of opportunities to both genders. However, what’s better than being involved in a show “about women” is being in a show about life, and we think the sense of life in the play –– and the joy, heartbreak and experiences that come along with that –– is what the audience will connect to the most.

PioneerWell put! Now, sell the play in one word.

All: Ahhh [anguished silence]

Schaffer: I don’t want to choose something unoriginal like “funny…”

Forrester: I was thinking of “sparkly,” but…

LeBas: “Tilt-a-whirl?”

Pioneer: If you hyphenate it enough, that’s one word.

Schaffer: Yeah, that’s rough… Um… “Drunk”? (laughs)

Forrester: Can I use a phrase?

Pioneer: As long as it’s a short phrase.

Forrester: I’ll use a phrase from the play. “Candy and flowers at night.”

LeBas: Yeah, that describes it pretty well.

“The Drunken City” is currently playing at Harper Joy Theatre through Sunday, Nov. 17.

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Photo by Chaoyu Li

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