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.
I 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 fortunate 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