Play the love

I’ll get to watch the show this weekend; it’ll be the first full run through since we first gathered, and most of the production team will be there. I got a sneak peek last night, stopping by to watch Ron and the actors work through the first few scenes.

Before starting to work, Ron talked a bit about Pearl.

We had the opportunity to spend a weekend with Pearl Cleage when Ron was directing Flyin’ West at Court Theatre and we were producing Blues for an Alabama Sky last spring. She joined us onstage for post-show discussions at each theater, took part in a symposium at the Greenhouse, signed books and discussed her career at Borders, and had a wonderful dinner with us in the midst of a busy and exhausting day.

In spending that weekend with her and in working with her plays, Ron explained to the cast, he was struck by the love and sensitivity she carries with her in everything she does and writes.

The opening scene of Bourbon at the Border (the scene the cast rehearsed after Ron finished his story) is a moment of tension as May waits for Charlie to come home from the hospital – tension that surfaces at times in flashes of angry arguments between May and her good friend Rosa. Even in those moments of anger, Pearl’s love for her characters, and the characters’ love for each other, give us a layer of sensitivity and humanity underneath that tension.

Play the love, my acting teacher used to tell me when I was stuck in a scene that seemed to me to be all about anger and tension. Sometimes as actors we can get caught up in an argument and lose sight of the complexities that make a story human.

For Pearl, there’s always love to play.

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