Actors confront life, love in new production

Geoffrey Leach

Through April 19, the Department of Theatre will perform “Three Tall Women” in Harper Joy Theatre. Written by Edward Albee, the play tells the story of three women, named A, B and C. A, played by sophomore Lauren Rekhelman, is a 92-year-old woman who tells a lot of stories. B, played by senior Anastasia Greeley, is her 52-year-old caretaker. C, played by sophomore Haley Forrester, is a 26 year old from a lawyer’s office looking into why A is not paying her bills. There is also a boy, played by sophomore Thomas Zbyszewski.

“From my character’s perspective, it’s about learning to age, learning to be O.K. with aging,” said Forrester.

Three Tall Women opens the week of April 13th. Photo by Anna Dawson.
‘Three Tall Women’ opens the week of April 13th. Photo by Anna Dawson.

The three actors are all playing women older than them, and in the cases of Greeley and Rekhelman, their age difference is quite large. To try and appear older, Greeley looks at the specific movements she makes.

“I’ve been preparing for this role by thinking a lot about my physicality in terms of age. How does a 52 year old move that’s different from a 21 year old? And that involves being a lot more deliberate in my actions, not slow, but just not as rapid,” said Greeley.

The play will be under the direction of guest director Paul Budraitis, who has worked in a number of theaters and studied extensively in Lithuania. He used some exercises to try and get the actors into character.

“One of the exercises we did to get in character was imagining the character in front of us in a mirror … imagining them standing there like how they would look, what they would be wearing,” said Forrester.

Forrester’s character, C, is a lot closer in age. In this way, Forrester can more closely relate to her character than Rekhelman and Greeley.

“I’m not her, but at the same time my character is 26, so, as opposed to the older ladies, I can more closely relate to her just age-wise,” said Forrester. “Some of the things she says I can totally understand.”

Even though there is a giant age difference between Greeley and the character B, Greeley still manages to find a connection.

“I take care of kids a lot. I do a lot of babysitting, and not to say that is exactly what B is doing with A, but it is a caretaker role, so I understand what it is to assist another human being,” said Greeley.

Part of this also stems from Greeley’s need to feel connected with all the character’s she plays.

“If I’m playing a role I have to feel connected, it’s complete empathy,” said Greeley.

With such a small cast, the play offers a lot of challenges. Forrester found that one of these challenges was memorizing lines.

“It’s a four-person cast and the lines are shared between three of the four people, and so I’m essentially memorizing a little less than a third of the play,” said Forrester.

Still, the actors feel a connectedness that pushes them toward success. The size of the cast might be daunting but it is also exciting.

“It’s also really scary not having that many people on stage … [but] I think that’s been really cool too, to have this really strong connection between the four of us because we are all we got,” said Forrester.

The actors are not playing characters of their own ages, and they also experience age differences between one another.

“They’re [both] sophomores as well, so that’s different. It’s kind of funny working on a show that does focus so much on age and different generations and moments in your life that I actually have noticed [certain differences between] me and the other people in the cast … [As a senior], my concerns are different. The things I talk about and am thinking about are different than the rest of the cast,” said Greeley.

As the performances start, both Forrester and Greeley are a bit nervous about the play and are experiencing pre-show jitters.

“I’m an actor and I’m always going to be nervous … but of course, I know when we get there we’re going to be there and it’s going to be great,” said Forrester.

“I won’t feel good until after a couple of performances because I think you are constantly changing things, and I think that’s how it should be, that’s why it’s live,” said Greeley.

Performances run through April 19 and tickets are selling out fast.