Monthly Archives: September 2008

Notes From the Cast: Peter Stray


Hi Peter. Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about yourself: Where did you grow up?

I was born in Swansea, Wales – though don’t sound Welsh due to my
being the son of a pair of English academics (an anthropologist and a
classicist). I would often visit my grandparents in London, so when I
went there (to study at The Central School of Speech & Drama) it was
an easy transition.

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Peter Stray in Two Rooms at the Vineyard Playhouse

Peter Stray in "Two Rooms" at the Vineyard Playhouse

When did you move to DC and what was your first show in town?

This was also an easy transition. My beloved wife (half-Canuck,
half-Yank) dragged me over here two years ago.

I did two short plays in The H Street Playhouse as part the Madcap Winter Carnival of New Works.

It was like being part of a human mix-tape. This
was a great introduction to the DC theatre community as the eight
shows featured twenty actors who would show me around. Plus I must
publicly thank John Lescault and Naomi Jacobsen, who gave me a lot of
insider’s info. They should have charged me.

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Have you had any experiences with Churchill’s writing in the
past—-as an actor our audience member?

When a first-year at Central, the final year did a showcase
performance of Fen. I was astounded by the skill of the writing, the
craftsmanship with which Churchill guides us through. I was moved and
haunted, and wanted to know more. The name Caryl Churchill is a seal
of quality, in the same league as Stoppard or Pinter.

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What were your initial reactions to the script?

Confused, intrigued, then a frantic wiki-search to look up all the references.

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How did you prepare for the start of rehearsals?

I went to the UK and really took note of all those transatlantic
differences. (I was actually scheduled to go there anyway, but having
just been cast, this gave me a terrific opportunity.) I spoke to old
friends about their views of the US, and thought back to my own images
(garnished mostly from movies) before I moved here.
I think it’s key in looking at the characters of Sam and Guy to
understand them as products of (often) radically different cultures.
Nowadays there are many people in the world who really shatter old
stereotypes, but Churchill has given us a confident, often brash
persona in Sam and a polite and sometimes tweedy man in Guy. As much
as we need to experiment with playing against these stereotypes, we
can’t ignore what Churchill has put on the page, and as John Vreeke
pointed out in rehearsal the other day, we in fact would do well to
embrace and humanize them.

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Peter Stray

Peter Stray

What have rehearsals been like in these first few weeks? What’s the team like to work with?

I scribbled three things down on my script before we began, almost
like a shopping list; Instinct. Collaboration. Googling. These were
the three things I felt we needed more than anything else, and whilst
Michael and Fiona helped us enormously with the third, it’s been
mainly down to John Vreeke, Adam Segaller and myself to explore the
first two (in regards to rehearsing the play).

Despite the huge list of political and historical references, this is
a piece about a relationship, and as such requires a lot of ‘googling’
our own emotional memories, if that makes any sense. We talked about
our own experiences in relationships, the games that can be played by
either ‘side’, the highs and lows a partnership can go through. All of
this is evident in the text. A two-hander can be tricky if the actors
aren’t on the same wavelength so I’m fortunate to be working with
Adam. And John Vreeke is the type of director any actor wants to work
with; when he gives notes they are specific ‘down to the comma’ –
essential in a piece like this.

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Any other thoughts?

I would encourage anyone with an interest in the politics of
relationships, or the decisions being made a few blocks from the H
Street Playhouse, to come and see this piece. It’s a short but
incredibly rich text and I thank Forum for giving me the opportunity
to be a part of something this unique….

Our Thoughts to the Newman Family

1925–2008

Thank you for sharing your talent with us.

How Well Do you Know Caryl Churchill’s Plays?

Another linked site from Guardian, a quiz on the life and work of Caryl Churchill.  Go ahead and post your scores in the comments section of this post.  A No-Prize to the highest score!

Caryl Churchill Quiz

Caryl Churchill Quiz

Mark Ravenhill on Churchill

Cool article on Caryl Churchill from The Guardian, written by playwright Mark Ravenhill. Churchill just turned 70, so there’s been a fair amount of “looking back” coverage of her career, lately. Check it out—it’s a good read.

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‘She made us raise our game’

Notes From the Cast: Adam Segaller

Adam Jonas Segaller and Peter Stray

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Hi Adam. Take a second to tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? When did you move to DC?

I was born in London, England. My father is an Englishman and my mother is from Flushing Meadows; they met when she went to England to study. We lived in London until I was six, then moved to Massachusetts and finally New Jersey.

I moved to DC just under a year ago, in order to play the eponymous character in Rorschach Theater’s Kit Marlowe. They put me up for the run of the show, and at the end I found I didn’t want to leave. So… I didn’t.

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What are your experiences with Caryl Churchill’s writing before this production?

I saw a community production of Far Away in Charlottesville, Virginia when I was at UVA. Much like Drunk, it was a short, sparse, chilling little work in which the surrealism of the premise and the minimalism of its execution made for an audience experience that I would describe as scary but fun, and which caused little explosions of understanding– not just of the play, but of the issues addressed– in one’s head for days after the performance. I believe it’s her most recent work before Drunk, and the plays have two major themes in common: making government atrocities more palatable, and a caution against the disastrous wages of global mistrust. I’ve also loved reading Cloud 9 and Topgirls.

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Continued…

Continue reading

Tickets On Sale

Good morning everybody–

Just letting you know that tickets to all 4 shows went on sale at our Box Office Tickets site.

Remember–The Last Days of Judas Iscariot will be a limited, 3 week run, so be sure to reserve your seat as soon as possible!

Show #4: DARK PLAY OR STORIES FOR BOYS

Washington DC Premiere

dark play

or stories for boys


By Carlos Murillo

Directed by Michael Dove

July 11–August 2, 2009

Deception is easy in today’s Internet age, and victims are only a click away. Fresh from the 2007 Humana Festival, Carlos Murillo’s hit play explores the seductive power of reinventing yourself online. Nick, a teenage outsider, creates a dream girl to entice the idealistic and gullible Adam. But what starts as a game soon turns into a dangerous obsession. Forum artistic director Michael Dove directs this tale of love, betrayal, and desire.

Amorality has rarely seemed so seductive—and so absolutely scary—as this.”—Orlando Sentinel


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Thoughts on the show:

Michael

I saw this show at the Humana festival and really fell in love with it. It was exciting to see Jennifer Mendenhall, one of our DC own, in the Louisville festival production, so I made sure to check it out— I’m so glad I did. I was so captivated and enthralled with the spiraling energy of this piece. Never have I seen the internet used so successfully onstage. Where most “web” exchanges in plays tend to be alienating (as can be their intention, of course), Carlos Murillo has found a way to give these scenes a new level of intimacy that is really thrilling. These exchanges, despite the layers of deceit and manipulation involved, allow the characters to truly reveal their innermost feelings in a way that even transcends many “face-to-face” scenes in plays.

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I love this play and couldn’t be more excited to share it with this theatre community. I believe that Mr. Murillo is a very exuberant, relevant, and provocative theatrical voice that DC audiences will absolutely love. We are honored to be able to present this script to you all.

For those of you who saw our reading of Carlos’ play, Mimesophobia at the Kennedy Center’s Page To Stage Festival, you’ll know just how much his writing can be fun and challenging at the same time.

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Carlos Murillo is a playwright, director, and assistant professor at The Theatre School of DePaul University. His play dark play or stories for boys received its world premiere at the 31st Annual Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville in March 2007. Carlos’ other plays include Unfinished American Highwayscape #9 & #32 (or The Broken Tractor Graveyard ), A Human Interest Story (or The Gory Details and All), Offspring of the Cold War, The Patron Saint of the Nameless Dead, Schadenfreude, Near Death Experiences with Leni Riefenstahl, Never Whistle While You’re Pissin, Mimesophobia, and Subterreneans. Murillo’s plays have been developed at The Public, NY Theatre Workshop, The Goodman Theatre, South Coast Rep, Portland Center Stage, Madison Rep, the Sundance Institute, The Playwrights’ Center, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, A.S.K. Theatre Projects, the Chautauqua Conservatory, Annex Theatre, UC Santa Barbara, the Loyola University Museum of Art, and others.

Murillo was a Jerome Fellow at The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, and has received grants from the Rockefeller Foundation MAP Fund, the Minnesota State Arts Board and is a two-time recipient of the National Latino Playwriting Award from Arizona Theatre Company. He has received commissions from The Public Theatre, The Goodman Theatre, Berkeley Rep, South Coast Rep, En Garde Arts and Disney Creative Entertainment. He is a resident playwright at New Dramatists in New York City and a member of The Dramatists Guild.