MAYTAG VIRGIN: It’s All About the Journey

By Will Hardy, who plays Jack Key

For me Maytag Virgin began last fall with a call from playwright Audrey Cefaly. She was looking for actors to read a draft so she could hear the words out loud and work out where she wanted the play to go. I soon found out that this is a hallmark of her writing, that the words–both said and unsaid–must come from a real place, in order to reveal the inner workings of human hearts.

unnamed-11I fell in love with this play from the very first reading for the nuanced way it told the story of two good but wounded people struggling against their reluctance to open their hearts again. With every new version Audrey created, and that Gillian Shelly and I read together, the writing became richer and more layered, even as the language itself became simpler and clearer. This play is not just about how broken hearts overcome grief and loss to be able to find each other, it is also about how inseparable life and death really are–two sides of the same coin. Life is both pain and joy, death is both tragedy and release.

One of the the things I love about being in Maytag Virgin is the musicality of the language. The cadence of English spoken in Alabama is almost a song; the words matter, not only which ones you use but also which ones you stress. Listen for the silences too–those moments when something shifts in the conversation, or when no words could possibly say what needs to be said. Quotidian’s intimate space at The Writer’s Center is perfect for rendering the very human scale of these voices.

I am also incredibly fortuunnamed-6nate to be playing this role opposite Gillian (now Gillian Shelly Lawler) as Lizzy Nash. Her presence and range of expression onstage and her warmth and dedication backstage have made this very challenging show a joy, and I delight in her performance every bit as much as the audience does–once we step into our roles, she becomes Lizzy to me too. I feel privileged to be able to inhabit Jack Key for a little while and give voice to the heart he keeps locked down out of fear, though he longs to set it free. To take such a battered, stoic man through that pain and let the audience share his moment of grace is one of the real rewards of acting in this gorgeous new play.

MAYTAG VIRGIN runs through November 1. Friday & Saturday at 8pm. Sunday at 2pm. *Additional 2pm matinee Saturday October 31 Tickets

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New Quotidian Subscriber Offering: Dramaturg Sessions

By Steve LaRocque

Beginning this season, Quotidian subscribers will be able to take advantage of several new exciting offerings, including pre-show presentation/discussion sessions that we are calling “Dramaturg Sessions.”

What is a Dramaturg?

The term, while fairly obscure to the general public, is heard a lot in theater – but that doesn’t mean that everyone agrees about its meaning.

Gotthold_Ephraim_Lessing

Gotthold Lessing, who originated the term dramaturg.

The concept originated in 18th Century Germany, when Gotthold Lessing put down his ideas about how to create and sustain a national German theater: organizing scripts and production-related materials; promoting a better understanding of the repertory among actors; and – most importantly for our purposes – educating audiences about the theater productions they came to see. For all of these functions (and others as well) he proposed a function that he called “der Dramaturgist” – in today’s language, the dramaturg.

However, almost 250 years after Lessing laid out his agenda, you won’t find unanimity about what a dramaturg does. It really depends on what the individual theater or director requires.

But there are some common elements. In her 2012 online article, “What is a Dramaturg?”, Bess Rowen quotes some explanations from working dramaturgs about what they do. Here is a helpful one:

“Dramaturgs are … text analyzers; we are researchers; we are objective observers; we are expert question askers; we are a resource for the director and playwright and actors and designers, and we are creative diplomats who liaise with those involved.”

In other words, a good dramaturg can tell you a lot about what to expect when you see a play. That’s what we plan to offer our subscribers for the 2015-16 season – and, if the idea works out – in future seasons, as well.

In the 2015-16 season, Quotidian will offer one Dramaturg Session for each of the three shows in the season (for subscribers only). Dramaturg Sessions will be held at the Writer’s Center, on the same day as one of the scheduled performances, beginning one hour before curtain (7 p.m. for evening shows, 1 p.m. for matinees). They will take place in a room separate from the theater; the specific location will depend on how large the group is expected to be.

Audrey Cefaly, playwright of Maytag Virgin.

Audrey Cefaly, playwright of Maytag Virgin.

The Dramaturg Sessions

The first Dramaturg Session, for Maytag Virgin, will take place on Saturday, October 17, and will feature Audrey Cefaly, playwright and director, as the dramaturg. What better source of background and context could you want?

This particular session offers the additional special benefit of providing an opportunity to hear the playwright/director discuss the process of writing the script, collaborating with actors and the production team, and bringing the story to life on the stage.

For the final show of the season, the dramaturg will be Stephanie Mumford, who has translated, adapted, and will direct a stage version of Anton Chekhov’s immortal short story, The Lady with the Little Dog. This, too, is a special opportunity for a glimpse into the creative process, including translation and adaptation of a classic foreign-language text – never an easy or straightforward procedure – as well as integrating multiple visual and aural media into the overall production.

Steve LaRocque, dramaturg for A Lesson From Aloes.

Steve LaRocque, dramaturg for A Lesson From Aloes.

In between, you get me – as the dramaturg for Athol Fugard’s A Lesson from Aloes, directed by Laura Giannarelli. I am not the playwright, adapter, or director – I haven’t even acted in a Fugard piece – but I have long been interested in the South African society that the playwright has used as the setting for his great plays – interested, but also frustrated that I didn’t have a complete picture. I suspected that Fugard’s South Africa must be maddeningly complex.

So I started in studying the history of the country, its ethnicities and its tensions, and, though I am far from finished, I realize that I had no idea. What we now call South Africa is the product of age-old conflicts, a complex mingling of ethnicities, and never-ending potential for explosive developments. I won’t claim to be the expert that others, including possibly audience members, might be, but I can give a basic presentation and get the discussion rolling. I am confident that the subscribers will take it from there.

How Will it Work?

The designated dramaturg – a member of the Quotidian company – will give a presentation, about 30 minutes long, explaining the background of the play, its context, and anything else that will enhance the audience’s understanding and appreciation of the play they are about to see.

When the half-hour presentation is over, audience members will have an opportunity for questions and discussion. We decided on this roughly half-and-half format, because we know from experience that audience members bring a lot of their own knowledge to the show they have come to see, and are usually more than ready to speak up.

The session will wrap up promptly ten minutes before the curtain, to give subscribers sufficient time to make their way to the theater and to their (reserved) seats.

The Dramaturg Sessions are not, by the way, intended to take the place of “talk-backs,” which will also be held on selected dates during the 2015-16 season. The talk-back, which takes place shortly after the curtain call and often includes cast members and the director, covers some of the same ground as the Dramaturg Session, but after the fact. The Dramaturg Session is intended to be anticipatory, with an explanation and discussion of context, setting, who’s who, etc., before the show begins.

Subscribe Today to Get This Exciting Benefit

Dramaturg Sessions were specifically developed as a subscriber benefit, so, subscribe today!

Attendance is by reservation, separate from reservations for the show. Seats may be reserved by calling the Quotidian reservation phone line (301) 816-1023, or by sending an e-mail to qtcboxoffice@gmail.comPlease use this specific e-mail, so that we can keep track of the Dramaturg Sessions separately; also please use “Dramaturg Session” somewhere in the subject line.

We hope that you enjoy the Dramaturg Sessions and find them a valuable addition to the benefits offered to Quotidian subscribers.


Our mission at Quotidian Theatre Company is to find truth and beauty in the everyday, presenting plays in an understated, impressionistic style. We are proud to be the Resident Theater Company at our performance space, The Writer’s Center in Bethesda.

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MAYTAG VIRGIN: The Making of a Southern Love Story

Evolution from Monologue to Full-Length Play

by Audrey Cefaly

Genesis

My play MAYTAG VIRGIN first appeared on the stage at Atlas Performing Arts Center’s annual Intersections Festival back in 2012, in the form of 10 minute monologue. Gwydion Suilebhan had asked me to join a group of playwrights to collectively answer a prompt for pieces “exploring a collision of people of different ages, races, cultures, classes, or sexual identities.”

I resisted the idea at first because I tend to shy away from writing about identity politics. It’s not that I don’t want to be part of the conversation, but my approach is perhaps more indirect, as I believe I lack the vocabulary for those kinds of discussions. So I took a step back and realized I could approach it in a way that felt familiar to me. I chose to write a story about a Southern protestant woman and her new Catholic neighbor and the resulting tension from their close proximity and religious differences. And while the finished piece wasn’t exactly a firestarter, I felt good about it because it was well-received and it seemed like the genesis of something much bigger. So when the Women’s Voices Theater Festival opportunity came along, I realized that MAYTAG VIRGIN would be my project.

Labor of Love

Expanding MAYTAG has been a true joy. I’ve collaborated with some extraordinary people who believe in my work and help to make it better. I’m really, really lucky to have that level of support. Keeping it set in the south was important to me. I am an Alabama native and much of my writing is taken from experiences and stories from my time living there.

Audrey_Cefaly_Maytag_VirginI knew I wanted MAYTAG to be similar, atmospherically, to my other Southern pieces (THE GULF, FIN & EUBA, COTTONWOOD, MILL TOWN GIRLS). I experimented with character count and narrative styles. My decision to write the piece as a two-hander, a specialty of mine, was one I made right off the bat. As both director and writer, it allows me to dig deep into human connections and explore the ideas of inertia and enlightenment, themes I keep returning to in all of my work. The more I write, the more audacious I get. I love taking risks. I’m experimenting once again with original music. It adds something very special to the finished product, an element of danger and aliveness that nothing else gets at. Having direct access to my actors as well as the text gives me the freedom to go places I couldn’t ordinarily go. It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s incredibly rewarding.

Building Tension

maytag-virgin-by_audrey_cefaly_tension_425wSo Maytag Virgin is the story of two school teachers trying to overcome tremendous loss. They enter each other’s world at the very moment it has been ripped apart. My playwright pal Richard Byrne (Nero/Pseudo) gave me the idea to position their houses next door to each other (vs. across the street), an idea which has proven to be the single best piece of advice I’ve gotten for the play. The proximity of Jack and Lizzy’s neighboring houses serves as an organic source of conflict and tension.

Maytag_Virgin_Set_Design_Scott_HengenThere was a point in the writing, where I put it down for almost 6 weeks because I had reached a wall with the narration and was having trouble one of Lizzy’s monologues. The content of it felt right, but I knew intuitively that something about the framing was off. My dramaturg Ann-Marie Dittman urged me to stay away from direct address and return to my original style. I figured out a way to transform Lizzy’s big moment into more of a soliloquy during the approaching thunder storm at the end at Act I. This created a powerful lead-in to intermission.

Toward the end of the restructuring process, I wrote a connector piece to bridge the final two scenes. This has become my favorite scene in the whole play. There’s a stillness to it, a simple, intimate, healing moment between Jack and Lizzy that serves to illustrate how far their relationship has evolved. The critical scene has become a focal point in the narrative, because we see that the moment would not be possible if not for the foundational layers of trust that have built up over the course of the year since their first meeting.

Will_Hardy_Gillian_Shelly_Maytag_Virgin_by_Audrey_Cefaly_425wMy incredible actors (Gillian Shelly, Will Hardy) have played a HUGE role in the fine-tuning of the play. They’ve been with me since the beginning and throughout our many private and public readings. We’re in our 3rd week of rehearsals now and we’ve been making the necessary text adjustments that can only be known and discovered once the actors are up on their feet. This is my favorite part of the development process and the thing I believe makes it the most distinct from other types of writing, because a play is not merely a script. It cannot be fully developed in a vacuum or coffee shop. It needs animation. It needs the magic of collaboration to see it through to its final rendering.

Fruition

Watching the evolution of this play has been the most rewarding experience of my writing career. Over the past year, we’ve had 5 table reads and 3 public readings (the 4th one and final read took place September 5th at Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage Festival).

Postscript

Recently, after I’d written the first draft of this article, my husband died after a long battle with kidney failure. We had been estranged for a few years, but I still cared about him, deeply. This has been a difficult week for me and my son Thomas. We’ve been muddling through it somehow. But it hasn’t escaped me that I’m trying to birth a play about death at the very moment death decided to descend upon my home. Though, strangely enough, this does not feel like death. It feels… it feels like life. A life where now free of pain and suffering. Where healing begins.

Will-Hardy-sings-RAIN-by-Audrey-Cefaly_Maytag_Virgin_425wWe have moved rehearsals to my home in Bowie so that I can be here with my son. The actors come in and it’s a house full of crazy. We gather and embrace. We strike a line, we move, we remove, we let the silence speak. We push and pull and weave and polish, we play a song and it feels like flying. MAYTAG VIRGIN is the song of love. And everything it touches turns to love. And the love it creates returns and folds back in, like warm pulled taffy. It feels as if every song I’ve ever sung is wrapped into this thing. And it’s not stopping. And it’s gorgeous. And I’m terrified. And I can’t wait.

Maytag Virgin Events

$10 Preview Night – October 1 • Writer’s Center • Bethesda | Info

World Premiere – October 2 • Writer’s Center • Bethesda | Info

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Quotidian Announces Two-For-One Special Introductory Offer for New Subscribers

triptych_2015-2016Quotidian Theatre Company is proud to announce a special two-for-one discount to first-time subscribers to QTC’s inspired new season of plays. For just $70 you will receive 8 tickets – for use in any configuration – plus the following benefits:

  • A potential savings of $110
  • Reserved front row seats upon request (depending on availability)
  • Free Friday night parking in Walsh Street lot
  • NEW pre-curtain dramaturg sessions
  • Will-call convenience

Moreover, QTC’s 2015-16 season promises to be one of its most inventive with:

  • A world premiere, QTC’s entry in the D.C. area Women’s Voices Theater Festival
  • An original adaptation of a classic short story with live music
  • Accomplished, new-to-QTC actors, musicians, and designers joining forces with QTC’s acclaimed repertory company

Maytag Virgin, written and directed by award-winning Southern playwright Audrey Cefaly, who wrote, directed and acted in QTC’s Mill Town Girls. Featuring Gillian Shelly and Will Hardy.

A Lesson from Aloes by Athol Fugard, directed by acclaimed Washington Stage Guild actress/director Laura Giannarelli, who directed QTC’s Faith Healer. Featuring David Dubov, Laura Russell, and Addison Switzer.

The Lady with the Little Dog, director Stephanie Mumford’s original adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s quotidian take on Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Mumford adapted and directed QTC’s 2012 staging of Chekhov’s A Little Trick. Featuring Chelsea Mayo, Ian Blackwell Rogers, David Dubov, with live music by Christine Kharazian and Zach Roberts.

SUBSCRIBE NOW at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2200629

PLEASE notify QTC by email quotidiantheatre@comcast.net or call 301-816-1023 and let us know that you have purchased a subscription/s via Brown Paper Tickets to ensure your name/s have been added to our subscription will-call list.
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THIS LIME TREE BOWER: David Mavricos Talks About the Importance of Storytelling

IMG_6678This Lime Tree Bower speaks to me about the importance of storytelling. In the course of the narrative, Joe brings up the story of the sunken boat off the shore, and how it has some sordid history involving the IRA, love, and gun trafficking… Or maybe it was that old fisherman, who sank it while he was drunk. Frank mentions never tiring of his father’s stories that just keep getting more and more exaggerated. This Lime Tree Bower lets its characters tell their stories, to the audience and to each other, and who knows what new details are added in each retelling. To me, that is the point of the drama, to remind us that these are our stories, that they are important to tell, and that there is always something new to be learned.

Working with this text is a challenge because it is not written as a traditional drama. Why did McPherson choose to have his characters tell the story rather than live it onstage? This is a question I’ve struggled with during this process, but I think it has to do with the fact that these three men are inexorably changed by the events they recount, and, more importantly, by the retelling. Joe reveals intimate details that Frank has never heard before, and what does that mean for their relationship as brothers? How much does Frank put on a show for Ray and Joe when he recounts the robbery? How much is he pretending to be something for his brother that he is not truly? It is the ‘little exaggerations’ that make our stories live in the present to those who did not live them in the past. And in those exaggerations and new revelations live kernels of truth; and sometimes truths that would otherwise be too painful to express.

The joy of this production is to live in those moments and discover new ideas with each retelling. The characters are telling their stories, but we as actors are as well. In the theatre we talk about the beauty of live performance being that it’s different every night. We as actors and as characters hear and react to new and different stimuli every performance. And this production in particular is about those moments of hearing something new for the first time, discovering something new about your brother, or your friend, even though you may have heard the same story a hundred times. Because, despite the retellings, we never get tired of hearing them.


THIS LIME TREE BOWER was first produced at the Crypt Arts Centre, Dublin, on September 26, 1995, an Íomhá Ildánach/Fly by Night co-production. The play was subsequently performed at the Bush Theatre, London, from July 3, 1996. It was originally produced in the United States by Primary Stages Company, Casey Childs, Artistic Director, on May 5, 1999.


Our mission at Quotidian Theatre Company is to find truth and beauty in the everyday, presenting plays in an understated, impressionistic style. We are proud to be the Resident Theater Company at our performance space, The Writer’s Center in Bethesda.

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THIS LIME TREE BOWER – A Director’s Vision

lime-tree-postcard-front_smBy the time Conor McPherson had earned his MA in Philosophy (Ethics) at University College Dublin in 1993, he had already written several plays, many staged by the Fly By Night Theatre Company he formed with friends. By 1995, with several local stage successes, McPherson opened This Lime Tree Bower at Dublin’s Crypt Arts Centre, a work which earned both the Meyer-Witworth Award and the George Devine Award for Best New Play. By 1996 Lime Tree moved to the Bush Theatre, London, where it garnered the Thames TV Award and the Guinness/National Theatre Ingenuity Award. The successes of Lime Tree and later St. Nicholas at the Bush led to The Weir at London’s Royal Court Theatre, and before long, success throughout the theatre world.

Those familiar with the plays of Conor McPherson are well aware of the playwright’s interest in ethics. This Lime Tree Bower is shot through with details of the three characters who relate the decisions they made during a strange week at a chipper in a northern suburb of Dublin. What is ethical behavior? Is it what suits the individual or society? This play provides a great deal of information about the choices made by these characters, and I suspect that audience members will quickly arrive at conclusions regarding the decency of each, although the consideration of what the characters could have or should have done will prove to be much more difficult.

Although This Lime Tree Bower is clearly in the tradition of Brien Friel’s Faith Healer and McPherson’s later masterpiece Port Authority, it is unique in that the alternating monologues are enhanced by the fact that the three characters are present and aware of each other throughout the play. This subtle interaction facilitates the audience’s understanding of the moral philosophy of each character.

We are proud to have presented eight plays by Conor McPherson, including three DC Area Premieres (Dublin Carol, Port Authority, The Birds), and a USA Premiere (The Veil). We will make every effort to continue staging McPherson’s work at Quotidian.

–Jack Sbarbori
Artistic Director


THIS LIME TREE BOWER was first produced at the Crypt Arts Centre, Dublin, on September 26, 1995, an Íomhá Ildánach/Fly by Night co-production. The play was subsequently performed at the Bush Theatre, London, from July 3, 1996. It was originally produced in the United States by Primary Stages Company, Casey Childs, Artistic Director, on May 5, 1999.


 

Our mission at Quotidian Theatre Company is to find truth and beauty in the everyday, presenting plays in an understated, impressionistic style. We are proud to be the Resident Theater Company at our performance space, The Writer’s Center in Bethesda.

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Quotidian Theatre Company Presents Conor McPherson’s Darkly Comic Masterpiece, THIS LIME TREE BOWER

Chris Stinson (Joe Beneventi) is delighted to return to the Quotidian stage appearing in 2013's The Iceman Cometh as "Don Parritt”.

Chris Stinson (Joe Beneventi) is delighted to return to the Quotidian stage appearing in 2013’s The Iceman Cometh as “Don Parritt”.

Quotidian Theatre Company returns to the world of playwright Conor McPherson in one of his early masterpieces, This Lime Tree Bower.

This play continues Quotidian’s long relationship with the author, and marks the eighth McPherson play Quotidian has produced, including three DC area premiers (Dublin CarolPort Authority, and The Birds), and the US premiere of The Veil.

Michael Avolio (Ray Sullivan) returns to QTC, where he directed Hedda Gabler and The Iceman Cometh and acted in The Veil, Shining City, The Cherry Orchard, and others.

Michael Avolio (Ray Sullivan) returns to QTC, where he directed Hedda Gabler and The Iceman Cometh and acted in The Veil, Shining City, The Cherry Orchard, and others.

The play, through interwoven monologues, is an account of coming of age in small town Ireland, told by three young men. The central characters are Joe (Chris Stinson), the youngest, who is bored with school and looking for adventure; his brother Frank (David Mavricos) who is working full-time in the family chipper and hatches “his great plan” to solve all the family’s troubles, and; their friend Ray (Michael Avolio) the debauched university lecturer who is dating their sister Carmel.

David Mavricos (Frank Beneventi) is delighted to be working with Quotidian Theatre for the first time.

David Mavricos (Frank Beneventi) is delighted to be working with Quotidian Theatre for the first time.

Director Jack Sbarbori says that the play is full of moral ambiguity. “What is ethical behavior? Is it what suits the individual or society? This play provides a great deal of information about the choices made by these characters, and I suspect that audience members will quickly arrive at conclusions regarding the decency of each, although the consideration of what the characters could have or should have done will prove to be much more difficult.”

This Lime Tree Bower opens July 10 at the Writers’ Center in Bethesda, MD, and runs weekends through August 9, with Friday and Saturday evening performances at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. PLEASE NOTE: There will be no performance on Friday, August 7, and an extra matinee will be performed on Saturday, August 8, at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets (http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1670671) or by calling the Quotidian Theatre Company box office at 301-816-1023.


Our mission at Quotidian Theatre Company is to find truth and beauty in the everyday, presenting plays in an understated, impressionistic style. We are proud to be the Resident Theater Company at our performance space, The Writer’s Center in Bethesda.

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