Ponca Playhouse Presents August: Osage County

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"And that is what this show is all about. When you leave the theater, if you have felt something other than, "Huh, I wonder what we should do for dinner.." Then I think the art form has worked a little bit in our favor.
 
"And that is what this show is all about. When you leave the theater, if you have felt something other than, "Huh, I wonder what we should do for dinner.." Then I think the art form has worked a little bit in our favor.
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==Storm Fields==
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DESCRIBE YOUR CHARACTER.
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Karen is like a two-way mirror. Think about why you look in a mirror, the purpose it serves: because you want to check your outward appearance, to make yourself look good in before you go out into the world. To the world and those around her, she looks polished, perfect, and pleasant. She’s showy and superficial, but charming and attractive. That’s what most people see because that’s what she wants you to see—it’s all a front. Because on the other side of that mirror is entirely different person who is looking back at you through your own reflection. Sure, she looks great on the surface, but who she really is, how she really sees herself, what she feels… that’s under lock and key. She is secretive, distant, and extremely guarded, but she’s deeply introspective and insightful. She has spent a lot of time—perhaps a little too much time—in her own head, obsessively evaluating and adjusting herself, over and over, setting the bar of her own self- expectations higher and higher. She is never satisfied with who she is because she thinks that no one else is satisfied with who she is.
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WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF YOUR ROLE? HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THIS?
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There’s plenty of facts given in the script about her life that are helpful to understanding her—she’s the youngest, she lives in Miami, she’s engaged to Steve, she’s a real estate agent, and lots of other interesting, odd details. But she’s been written as a character who is raises a lot of questions and is open to interpretation. So that’s what I’ve been doing: interpreting her, answering those questions, and building her persona from there. That’s been the biggest challenge.
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TELL US ABOUT YOUR PAST THEATER EXPERIENCE. WHERE MIGHT WE HAVE SEEN YOUR BEFORE?
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In the fourth grade, I was introduced to theater by Mrs. Marta Maril, the drama teacher, who encouraged me to write plays and perform in them. I was captain of the drama and debate team in high school, starred in a few plays, and then graduated in 2008 and didn’t do anything onstage for ten years. Then, last November, I auditioned for the Crucible on a whim, and was cast as Mary Warren… and then as the Woman in Duck Hunter Shoots Angel… and now as Karen.
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WHY DID YOU WANT TO BE IN THIS PRODUCTION OF AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY?
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This is one of my favorite plays, and I’ve always wanted to be a part of it, if the opportunity arose. I never expected this play to be produced here in Ponca, and that just makes it even more important and special to me.
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WHY IS AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY AN IMPORTANT AND SPECIAL PLAY?
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For a number of reasons. First of all, it’s an Oklahoman play—it’s about Oklahoma, the people that live here, the way life is here, and it’s written by an Oklahoman, Tracy Letts. It’s an incredibly powerful and challenging play, for both the audience and the actors. It directly takes on issues, personal or familial, that anyone (not just Oklahomans) has dealt with or witnessed in one way or another. For me, it’s special and important because it is set a little over an hour away from where I grew up, from where a lot of us grew up.
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WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO REMEMBER ABOUT THIS PLAY?
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I hope that when the play is over, people leave thinking about their own families, reflecting on themselves a little bit. Of course, I hope the play entertains, but more importantly, I hope it provokes the audience to think and reflect deeply within themselves. This play, in my opinion, is about family. It’s not about fighting, hating, or leaving your family. Even though there is a lot of that in the show, there’s also a lot of moments of love and goodness. It’s a lot like a real family—at one point or another, we have all had disputes with at least one family member, however extreme.
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But at the end of the day, when something terrible happens, who are the people who you know will always love you, no matter what you’ve done, who will always support you and come together on your behalf? Your family. Relationships and friendships often die out, whether from neglect or from dispute, and are never rekindled—but something about a blood relation compels people to put aside their differences and come home. Sometimes it takes days, sometimes years have to go by, but eventually, we reconcile the past and love one another again. Family is all you have in this world, really.

Latest revision as of 23:03, 13 July 2018

Contents

[edit] Interview with Todd Stuart

Our Interview with Todd Stuart who plays Bill Fordham, the husband of Barbara Weston in "August: Osage County"

In "August: Osage County" actor Todd Stuart plays the part of Barbara's husband Bill Fordham. Bill is a university professor who is sleeping with one of his students. He doesn't live with Barb and daughter Jean, but when he hears Beverly Weston is missing he comes to Oklahoma to be with his family. He struggles with Barbara because he loves her but can't manage to get along with her.

Read our interview with Todd Stuart in which he describes his character, explains how he prepared for the role, talks about the most challenging part of playing the role, and tells us why "August: Osage County" is important.

Todd will be performing in "August: Osage County" at Ponca Playhouse. The play opens on Thursday July 19 and will run until July 29. Call the Playhouse at 580-765-5360 for tickets to see the show. Or come on down to the Playhouse ticket office at 301 S. 1st street and pick out your seats during office hours Monday to Friday, 11 am to 3 pm.

How would you describe Bill Fordham? What is he like?

Bill Fordham is the son-in-law, married to the oldest daughter, Barbara. In the play, we're from Oklahoma, but we moved to Colorado and have been away from the family for a while. And because Beverly's missing, we have flown back to Oklahoma to be with Violet in Pawhuska as the story unfolds.

How do you approach playing the role of Bill?

There's separation issues but there's also him wanting to be there for Barbara during this trying time, and I think that's something I can try to bring out in the role. Bill is coming into this story damaged in a way, as far as the relationship with Barbara goes. And I think he's trying to find that balance between being there for Barbara, Violet and the rest of the family--and everything else going on in his life outside the scope of the show.

Tell me about yourself, your past theater experience. Where might we have seen you before?

I did theater in high school, and some theater in college. Before moving to Ponca City in 2008, I lived in Stillwater and was active with Town and Gown Theatre there. I was in “Moon Over Buffalo,” which featured a great ensemble cast. I was in Neil Simon's “Rumors” as well.

My first show at the Playhouse was “All My Sons,” and I played Joe Keller. I've been an inmate in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,” a prosecutor in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and a Reverend in “The Crucible.”

My lovely bride Sam Stuart and I were cast as Charles and Ruth Condomine in “Blithe Spirit.” We got to play husband and wife, on stage, at the Ponca Playhouse.

Your favorite role so far?

Wow. I liked playing Harding in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I loved playing Joe Keller in All My Sons. It was a very challenging role because I went from a straight from a comedy at Town & Gown right into one of the heaviest Arthur Miller dramas there is. I had to mentally change gears really fast to prepare for that role. But I had a great director who really ... I got really frustrated with her during the production but looking back I realize she was just challenging me to stretch out of my comfort zone… it worked.

Do you think that this play is important? Is our audience ready for this play?

I think our audience is ready for this show. There may be some uncomfortable moments, but only because members of the audience are going to be able to relate to something that happens during the show.

There are relationship issues, substance abuse issues, and all sorts of other things happening. I would venture a guess that majority of families in America (and certainly here in Oklahoma) are going through one or more of those things at this very moment.

Anything you want to say to the person who might be on the fence about seeing “August: Osage County”?

To me, this play is kind of like “that uncle that nobody likes to talk about.” But again, you're going to relate to something that happens at some point during the show, because everybody's been there.

This Thanksgiving will be my fifth holiday with my wife and her family. And there are different brother and sisters-in-law, and other family members that show up at the matriarch's house, and - there's always several things happening… little side stories going around during the Thanksgiving dinner that to me add to the character of the gathering. The same elements (for better or worse) exist in “August: Osage County,” and I just think you're going to be able to relate to it from that aspect alone.

Anything to add?

This is a show a show set here in Oklahoma, written by an Oklahoman playwright, and part of the “Oklahoma Pride” Series. We’ve got a fantastic cast and director. It's a great fundraiser for the Ponca Playhouse, and I want to encourage everyone to show up and enjoy the show. Bring a friend!

[edit] Tamara Campbell

Our Interview with Tamara Campbell, who plays Johnna Monevata, the Cheyenne Housekeeper of the Weston Family in "August: Osage County"

In "August: Osage County" actor Tamara Campbell plays the part of Johnna Monevata, the Cheyenne Housekeeper of the Weston Family. Johnna is the unbreakable thread on which the backbone of the story—hilarious and tragic, compassionate and merciless, insightful and inane—all hang.

For playwright Tracy Letts, the inclusion of a Native American character in his story was both personal and political. In his words, “When you grow up in Oklahoma and you have Native American blood, that heritage is embedded in your DNA.” Tracy Letts is of mixed blood. Letts father, Dennis, was a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Tribe. Along with European ancestry, he passed indigenous DNA on to his sons.

The character of the Cheyenne housekeeper, Johnna Monevata, is noteworthy for being one of the few authentic Native American representations on the national American stage. Johnna is meant to be seen living in her assigned quarters, the attic; the most remote, uninhabitable part of the entire house—a type of reservation. Johnna is meant to experience long periods of staged silence—perennially present, but rarely heard from.

Read our interview with Tamara Campbell in which she describes her character, explains how she prepared for the role, talks about the most challenging part of playing the role, and tells us why "August: Osage County" is important.

Tamara will be performing in "August: Osage County" at Ponca Playhouse. The play opens on Thursday July 19 and will run until July 29. Call the Playhouse at 580-765-5360 for tickets to see the show. Or come on down to the Playhouse ticket office at 301 S. 1st street and pick out your seats during office hours Monday to Friday, 11 am to 3 pm.

How would you describe Johnna? What's she like?

I think she's a very calm person. She has a lot of strength. She's quiet, very reserved. I think she's just fiercely loving and protective of those she cares for. I think she has a strength that not many are going to be used to or understand.

How do you approach playing the role of Johnna?

I think she's much more serious than I am. I'm kind of a goofball. I like to laugh and cut up. I can be serious so I've kind of got to delve a bit more into just ... quiet, and calming myself and learning how to just, I guess, just assess the situation, see where we're at, be aware of my surroundings. It's going to be playing off of the people that are around me, for sure, and just learning, you know, I'm supposed to be that calming center, supposed to be quiet, unspoken.

I think she's the stability. I think she's the one that helps them be grounded, to find what needs to be done ... where they're at. Especially for Violet. Violet is definitely very, very lost. I think she becomes Violet's stability, the one that Violet realizes she can count on whenever no one else is there.

What's is the most challenging part of this role?

There's a part in the play where I have to be a bit more aggressive than what I think I've ever had to be. It's a great part and that's the part I cannot wait to play, and at the same time that scene is going to be the most difficult for me to walk through. To be aggressive, to hurt someone even if it is in protection of another person. That's what I have to remember: I'm protecting someone I've learned to love, to care for, who doesn't really know how to protect herself yet. That's the part I have to remember is that she's a young girl. She's lost and trying to be an adult and doesn't really know how to ask for protection or help. So I think that's going to be the hardest part, to feel that anger.

You really have to think back on exactly what made you the maddest in your life or what is something that just makes you so, so angry. For me, there's a lot of things in this world that upset me, make me mad, that I don't agree with. But if I haven't exactly experienced them ... I'm the type that if I get mad or angry, I start to cry. So that looks very different. "Is she mad or is she sad?" My eyes well up, I start to cry. So I've got to get past that point and know this has to be done and I'm going to do it.

Tell me about yourself, your past theater experience. Where might we have seen you before?

The last play I was in was in 1996 at Bacone College. I played Laura in the Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. It was definitely different and a lot of fun. Other than high school plays that I don't remember the names of. I've been wanting to audition, looking at plays that have come through in the past two couple of years and just l like, "No, I'm not ready, I'm not ready."

But this one, my best friend was like, "Oh my god, I've been asked to help out with this play. You've got to come and audition, I think you'd be awesome in this role. I know you've been wanting to come and audition, just come and do it!" And my husband told me the same thing. They've always been my biggest cheerleaders. So I auditioned and was surprised, to say the least, to see my name on the cast list, because it had been 22 years. When I saw it, it was 11:00 at night and I yelled out, "Oh my god, I got the part!" And that's when the nerves set in, like, I have to go and do this now.

Do you think that this play is important? Is it personal for you?

I really love the fact that it's written by an Oklahoman author and that it happened not very far from here, where most of us grew up. Not only that but it delves into the family dynamic in such a way that most of us are afraid to talk about. We're afraid to let other people see. There's so much that ... Everybody wants to believe we are perfect, that we're completely happy.

And yes, there are a lot of cuss words. I don't say any but it is around me. The thing is that circumstances with which these cuss words come out are when they are very passionate about something, they're very upset or angry. I think, for all of us, in our lives we can relate to that. There are times that we are going to fly off the handle. There are times we are going to be so mad. There are times we are going to want to hurt someone, to yell at somebody because of something that they done to us. I think it matters what you do after that situation, after you've blown up. Do you apologize or do you just walk away? Do you allow it to be something that is bottled up again or slid under the rug? How do you handle it?

I think that's a lot of things people are going to question. They're going to look at their own family dynamic because, across the board, I'm sure, at some point in everyone's life there's been some kind of dysfunction or you have been touched by something whether it has to do with alcohol, drugs, or forbidden love. This play hits so many notes.

It deals with depression and the possibility of rape. Parts of it are dark but there are also parts where you can see the good come about. So that's why I think it's important. I think people need to see it and realize they're not the only ones out there dealing with those things.

Anything you want to say to the person who might be on the fence about seeing “August: Osage County”?

I think it's important to be involved in your community. Come out and support us. These are people within your community that are all doing something that we love. Just come and be a part of that.

[edit] Shandi Parent

August: Osage County - Read our Interview with Shandi Parent, who plays Ivy, the middle Weston Sister

In "August: Osage County" longtime actor Shandi Parent plays the part of Ivy the middle sister of the three Weston sisters. Ivy is the sibling who has had to stay behind and take care of mom and dad and she resents sisters Barbara and Karen for leaving her behind. She believes it's her turn to leave and she is determined to go to New York with cousin Little Charles no matter what her mother says.

Read our interview with Shandi Parent in which she describes her character, explains how she prepared for the role, talks about similarities between her personality and Ivy's, and tells us why she wanted to be in this production of "August: Osage County".

Shandi will be performing in "August: Osage County" at Ponca Playhouse. The play opens on Thursday July 19 and will run until July 29. Call the Playhouse at 580-765-5360 for tickets to see the show.

How would you describe Ivy, the character that you play in “August: Osage County.”

Ivy's the middle child. She got stuck behind with her mom and dad taking care of them and I think she's pretty bitter about it at some points, and at other points she takes pride in it almost. She feels superior because was the one to stick around when everyone else left.

How do you approach playing the role of Ivy?

You want to look at something that she says and you think, "Well, maybe she's just playing around. But then you start looking deeper into it -- she's not playing around, she's being serious.

At other times, you think the exact opposite, and it turns out the exact opposite. So you have to approach the character carefully to make sure you're not ... undervaluing some of the stuff that's she's gone through and still going through. And at the same time you have to have a little fun with it. You kinda got to be careful with the character's emotions.

Do you see any similarities between your personality and Ivy's personality.?

Oh yeah. I've actually been reading a lot of my lines around my family, and my boyfriend has actually come into the room asking who I'm on the phone with. Apparently, I have a very dark sense of humor and I'm very sarcastic because I looked to him and said, "No one, I'm practicing my lines." That was a little bit of an eye opener. I don't want to think I'm that cynical about life, but I don't know. Maybe I am. I guess I'm learning new things about myself, too.

Tell us why you wanted to be in this production of “August: Osage County”?

I like the fact that it's set in Oklahoma. I'm an Okie girl at heart. I've moved away from this state and I've come back. I love this state. And the fact that it's set here and everything about it. I mean, it touches me. As corny as that sounds, it really does. I like the fact that it represents the state, as dark as it is. It's home. It's home.

How did you get into theatre and what else have you done at the Playhouse?

From a very, very young age. I did stuff at school, I did stuff at church, I did stuff at the Poncan Theater. I don't remember a point in time in my life when I wasn't preparing to be on a stage. As long as I can remember, it's been dancing or singing, acting. Pretty much anything I could get my hands on. I've been gone off the stage for a while.

I was previously in "Calfornia Suite" that we practiced here at the Playhouse and then performed over at the Poncan Theater. It was about ten, eleven years ago. In California Suite, I played a passed out hooker. This is the first time I've ever played anything that is very serious.

I dropped out of the scene for a little bit, raising kids, but I missed it. I missed it so much. I missed everything about it so much. There's just a part of you that once you've been on the stage your whole life, you miss it. It's amazing it's a different feeling than anything else you can feel. I love it.

I am excited about "August: Osage County" and I really hope that other people are excited to come see this too. I know that some people might shy away it because of some of the subject matter. But it's so worth it. It is so worth it! It's fun, it's dramatic, and it's gonna be awesome.

[edit] Marlys Cervantes

August: Osage County - Read our Interview with Marlys Cervantes, who plays Barbara, the oldest of the Weston Sisters

In "August: Osage County" longtime actor Marlys Cervantes plays the part of Barbara the oldest of the three Weston sisters. Barbara is considered by many to be the strongest and most sympathetic character in the play. Throughout the play she tries to gain control of her chaotic mother, her dilapidated marriage, and her pot-smoking 14 year old daughter.

Read our interview with Marlys in which she describes her character, explains how she prepared for the role, talks abut the biggest challenge in playing the role of Barbara, and tells us what she would say to someone who says they have reservations about coming to "August: Osage County" because of the language.

Marlys will be performing in "August: Osage County" at Ponca Playhouse. The play opens on Thursday July 19 and will run until July 29. Call the Playhouse at 580-765-5360 to make your reservation for tickets to see the show.

How would you describe Barbara, the character that you play in “August: Osage County.”

Barbara is the oldest daughter and the oldest sister of three sisters in this play. She doesn't still live in the area. She is a professor and teaches. Really, what she wants, is everyone to see the really good things about her life. She wants everything to be looked at as normal and stable, and she really wants to be in charge when she comes back here in these situations in the family, probably, primarily, because she really has lost control of her immediate family.

Barbara Weston is a very strong woman. That strength comes through in all that she's doing and in trying to organize things and keep control and do the right thing, and then her dad is missing. So she's a very strong woman but she's been put in a more tenuous situation with her husband and her daughter.

That being said, as her husband Bill says in the play, Barbara is definitely a pain in the ass for her sisters, for her husband, for everyone.

How did you go about preparing for the role of Barbara?

I have to keep in mind how strong she is because she's in other vulnerable situations underneath. But that's not what she wants to portray to her family, so I feel like I have to keep that in mind. A part of it will come very easy for me because I am one that is really outspoken in some areas of my life. But things that are personal, I kind of like to keep closer to home, to just myself, and I don't tell a lot of people. So I understand the part of her that doesn't want anyone to see those parts where she feels vulnerable.

I relate to Barbara because I am also the oldest sibling in my family. So I get that of being the oldest child. The thing that is most similar to me is that idea of wanting to keep the private, private. Not wanting people to see where I'm vulnerable.

What is the most challenging part of playing the part of Barbara?

The things that are probably most challenging for me might be how she talks to her mother, how she talks to her siblings. Things along that line. My mom is very reserved. And we don't fight and we don't talk like that. You know? We have this great relationship. But Barbara and her mom do, too, it's just completely different.

You know, I think moms and daughters, it's like that. What do you want to be like, in that person, and what do you not want to be? And there's all this give and take with mothers and daughters. So I'm trying to think about that part and to help me get past some of the ways that she and her mother relate to one another that don't happen in my life.

Tell us why you wanted to be in this production of “August: Osage County”?

It's just a really strong play. I love dramas. I love things that keep me thinking after. This is one that does that. Tracy Letts is an Oklahoman, he still has family here, this is based in Oklahoma. He's won a Pulitzer, a Tony ... I mean, this has won just so many awards. It's just a strong drama and I'm really proud to be a part of it.

What would you say to someone who says they have reservations about coming to the play because of the language?

I would hope people would come and put aside any reservations they have to do with language or to do with situations. You have to remember that drama is more about the deeper meanings and what's there. That's how he gets it across. That's what may shock people or make us think or put us in a certain situation. But you don't ... That doesn't have to be how you talk for you to have that and grab ahold of that and feel something those characters are feeling.

[edit] Sam Stuart

August: Osage County - Read our Interview with Sam Stuart, who plays Violet, the matriarch of the Weston family

In "August: Osage County" longtime actor and director Sam Stuart plays the part of Violet - a terrifying figure, a pill-popping, mean-spirited, broken woman filled with resentment for those closest to her.

Read our interview with Stuart in which she talks about her character, explains the biggest challenge in playing the role of Violet, and talks about why "August: Osage County" is so controversial.

Stuart will be performing in "August: Osage County" at Ponca Playhouse. The play opens on Thursday July 19 and will run until July 29. Call the Playhouse at 580-765-5360 to make your reservation for tickets to see the show.

Describe Violet, the character you play in "August: Osage County."

Violet is the matriarch of the family. Violet is very strong-willed, she's very manipulative. She is not a nice person. I think that the term that I've used to describe her several times is 'casually cruel'. She says things that are hurtful and it doesn't even occur to her that what she's saying could be causing the person she's saying them to pain. She has three daughters. She treats them all very, very differently. Barbara is the one that I think she comes down the hardest on because she's the oldest. The middle daughter... she really doesn't even notice her existence, really all that much at all. And then the youngest daughter she really just kind of seems to almost pity some ways.

Violet is very strong willed and she's someone who definitely thinks that 'it's my way or the highway'. Because of that, she's pretty much driven all three of her children away from her. They've all moved as far away as they can possibly get - except Ivy because - well, where else is Ivy gonna go? She's this damaged thing, as she describes herself.

What was the biggest challenge in playing this part?

Violet is very interesting role and I'm really, really excited about playing her. There's so many different levels to her. One the one hand, you've got this mother who, no matter how venomous her love is, does love her daughters. On the other hand, you've got a woman who has cancer and is suffering through chemotherapy. She has a past of being addicted to pills and is addicted to them now but it's okay because she has a "reason" because she cancer, so it's okay for her to get addicted this time. And then on the other hand, she is the wife of a husband who has vanished. You also have a woman who knows everybody's secrets, never lets on that she knows everybody's secrets, unless it benefits her to do so. So, she's very, very multi-layered. It's a very beefy role.

The biggest challenge for me as actor in this play has been not playing my mother. Because the first time I started reading some of the Violet scenes, I put my script down and said, "Oh my god, I sound exactly like my mother." I heard my mother's voice coming out of my mouth, and I thought, "You know, I really want my mom to come see this play -- maybe I should find a different voice because she's gonna hear it and know its her." That's been my biggest challenge.

Does the language used in the play make you uncomfortable?

You see those situations on darn near every TV show you turn on. You can't get away from them. They've built whole reality TV shows around pedophiles and cheating cheaters and women who hate their mothers. And people tune in by the millions to watch this stuff. Why is that any different? It's all over everything. Just because you're watching live people perform it instead of seeing it on a screen doesn't make it anymore offensive.

The thing that I keep hearing people talk about in this play that they think makes it controversial is the language. You know what? There's some language in the play, there's a bunch of f-bombs in this play, there really are. I personally am horribly offended by the word 'moist'. I hate that word than anything in the world. But I am never ever going to say, "I'm not gonna go see that play because they say 'moist' in it seventeen times!" So honestly, if your biggest problem is with the language, please come see the play anyway. Know there's going to be language in it. Don't come in and be surprised by that. Come see this play because it is so wonderful written. And the cast we've put together is so strong. And I think you'll really be surprised. I think that after the first few minutes those f-bombs won't offend you the way you think they will.

How does this play challenge the audience?

It's wonderful to have people walk out the door after a play and say, "Oh, that was so entertaining, I enjoyed it so much." To me, it's even more wonderful to have people walk out the door, saying, "Well, did he really do that?" "I don't know, what do you think?" "Well, I don't know!" And have them actually walk out that door and chew on what they just watched and digest it and really talk about it. To me, that's what theater should be. We should be challenging our audiences and when I say that, I don't mean challenging them as in make them... trying to frighten them. But I mean, making them think. That's the important thing to me.

Anything else to add?

People, come see this play. You're going to be amazed. You're going to be blown away. It's gonna be really, really, really good. We've got a really fabulous director at the helm and he knows what he's doing and I'm impressed with him right now, really, a lot. I've never felt so respected as an actor as I have with him. So, come see the show. You're going to be amazed. And you'll be challenged.

[edit] Lance Garrett

Why People in Ponca City Should See "August: Osage County" - An Interview with Director Lance Garrett

We recently sat down with Lance Garrett, director of "August: Osage County" to talk about the play, the controversy surrounding the show, why the play can make some people feel uncomfortable, and why people in Ponca City should come see the play. Following are Lance's edited remarks.

"I'm a huge Tracy Letts fan... I like the grittier side of theater, and Tracy is a fantastic writer of the underbelly of society. He's from Oklahoma, which I think is fantastic -- his family still lives here.

"I see a lot of parallels in August: Osage County" to families that I know. There are parallels in the show to some of my family members, and so to me it just speaks volumes to the quality of writing, that he can touch on so many different aspects of family life in a show that is chock-full of horrible characters.

"I think a lot of the controversy surrounding the show comes from the language in the show, the drug use in the show, the incest. I think there is a lot that knocks people off their center. In a town like Ponca City, which is primarily white Christians, the play just strikes a nerve of being kind of an illegitimate piece of art. But I think it is exactly the opposite. I think this play is exactly what Ponca Playhouse ought to be tackling, what we ought to be talking about, it's what everybody should be talking about -- which is the struggle inside these family units.

"I think the play makes people uncomfortable for a number of reasons. One of those is the fact that they can look at it and say, "Oh, that is my mom. This is my brother. Or my uncle did the exact same thing to when I was fourteen." So, I think a lot of it is that and, again, that goes back to the writing of Mr. Letts. It's just an amazing piece of literature that can hit so many bases all at the same time.

"I think that the play, at its heart, is a drama. But I also think that it deals with the dramatic in a very comedic way. One of my big defenses is comedy. If I'm in an uncomfortable situation, I start cracking jokes. And I try to make people laugh to lighten the mood. And throughout the show, there are many, many different instances where the characters onstage say something that, to them, in that situation, may not be really funny. But to us as an audience, it is a release, it's a way to laugh against the drama that we're being hit with.

"When you are yelling at somebody to "Eat the Fish!", that's not funny at all. But to us, the viewer, it's hilarious because it is so tense and we can see ourselves in that instance. So I consider it a very funny drama.

"People in Ponca City should come see the play because, number one, it's a fantastic piece of writing. Letts won the Pulitzer Prize, he won the Tony's, he's won Drama Desk Awards. Tracy Letts is an American writing institution. He should be up there with all of the other big names, and he's only in his fifties.

"Secondly, they should come and see it because it's a good time. You go the theater to get away from what you do in your everyday lives, and that is exactly what this show offers. Yes, it's drama... yes, it's tense. But when you walk away from the show, you feel like you have seen something extraordinary. And that leads into what you take away from the show.

"It is a show about being trapped, it's a show about having a family that is dysfunctional to the point of being ludicrous. And yet, at the same time, it's your family and you've gotta deal with it. How you deal with it can be everything from just not talking about the problems, to completely leaving the situation, to moving out of state and going somewhere completely different.

"And that is what this show is all about. When you leave the theater, if you have felt something other than, "Huh, I wonder what we should do for dinner.." Then I think the art form has worked a little bit in our favor.

[edit] Storm Fields

DESCRIBE YOUR CHARACTER.

Karen is like a two-way mirror. Think about why you look in a mirror, the purpose it serves: because you want to check your outward appearance, to make yourself look good in before you go out into the world. To the world and those around her, she looks polished, perfect, and pleasant. She’s showy and superficial, but charming and attractive. That’s what most people see because that’s what she wants you to see—it’s all a front. Because on the other side of that mirror is entirely different person who is looking back at you through your own reflection. Sure, she looks great on the surface, but who she really is, how she really sees herself, what she feels… that’s under lock and key. She is secretive, distant, and extremely guarded, but she’s deeply introspective and insightful. She has spent a lot of time—perhaps a little too much time—in her own head, obsessively evaluating and adjusting herself, over and over, setting the bar of her own self- expectations higher and higher. She is never satisfied with who she is because she thinks that no one else is satisfied with who she is.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF YOUR ROLE? HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THIS?

There’s plenty of facts given in the script about her life that are helpful to understanding her—she’s the youngest, she lives in Miami, she’s engaged to Steve, she’s a real estate agent, and lots of other interesting, odd details. But she’s been written as a character who is raises a lot of questions and is open to interpretation. So that’s what I’ve been doing: interpreting her, answering those questions, and building her persona from there. That’s been the biggest challenge.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR PAST THEATER EXPERIENCE. WHERE MIGHT WE HAVE SEEN YOUR BEFORE?

In the fourth grade, I was introduced to theater by Mrs. Marta Maril, the drama teacher, who encouraged me to write plays and perform in them. I was captain of the drama and debate team in high school, starred in a few plays, and then graduated in 2008 and didn’t do anything onstage for ten years. Then, last November, I auditioned for the Crucible on a whim, and was cast as Mary Warren… and then as the Woman in Duck Hunter Shoots Angel… and now as Karen.

WHY DID YOU WANT TO BE IN THIS PRODUCTION OF AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY?

This is one of my favorite plays, and I’ve always wanted to be a part of it, if the opportunity arose. I never expected this play to be produced here in Ponca, and that just makes it even more important and special to me.

WHY IS AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY AN IMPORTANT AND SPECIAL PLAY?

For a number of reasons. First of all, it’s an Oklahoman play—it’s about Oklahoma, the people that live here, the way life is here, and it’s written by an Oklahoman, Tracy Letts. It’s an incredibly powerful and challenging play, for both the audience and the actors. It directly takes on issues, personal or familial, that anyone (not just Oklahomans) has dealt with or witnessed in one way or another. For me, it’s special and important because it is set a little over an hour away from where I grew up, from where a lot of us grew up.

WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO REMEMBER ABOUT THIS PLAY?

I hope that when the play is over, people leave thinking about their own families, reflecting on themselves a little bit. Of course, I hope the play entertains, but more importantly, I hope it provokes the audience to think and reflect deeply within themselves. This play, in my opinion, is about family. It’s not about fighting, hating, or leaving your family. Even though there is a lot of that in the show, there’s also a lot of moments of love and goodness. It’s a lot like a real family—at one point or another, we have all had disputes with at least one family member, however extreme.

But at the end of the day, when something terrible happens, who are the people who you know will always love you, no matter what you’ve done, who will always support you and come together on your behalf? Your family. Relationships and friendships often die out, whether from neglect or from dispute, and are never rekindled—but something about a blood relation compels people to put aside their differences and come home. Sometimes it takes days, sometimes years have to go by, but eventually, we reconcile the past and love one another again. Family is all you have in this world, really.

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