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Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Spotlight on Silver Spring Stage’s Rabbit Hole

By • Apr 29th, 2010 • Category: Interviews
Rabbit Hole
Silver Spring Stage
Woodmoor Shopping Center, Silver Spring, MD
Through May 9th
$20/$18 Seniors and Juniors
Interviewed April 23, 2010

Mike: This is Mike Clark with ShowBiz Radio. I am talking with Chris Curtis who is the Director for Silver Spring Stage’s Rabbit Hole. So tell me about Rabbit Hole. What is the story about?

Chris: Rabbit Hole is about, without getting too much into the details, is primarily about a young 30 something couple who have experienced a major loss in their lives and are really trying to deal with the after effects of that and not really having the best of luck at it, shall we say. And their relationships and their relationships to their family members and some of the other people involved are really the subject of the play.

Mike: So it sounds like a dark show.

Chris: I would not characterize it as dark. The subject matter is definitely weighty. There is dealing with very serious themes and very serious emotions, but at the same time Lindsey-Abaire the playwright did a very fine job of balancing that with a lot of humor and a lot of real humanness to it. These are real people and they are not overly dark or brooding. They are just trying to deal with their lives the best they know how. And as I said, there is quite a bit of humor in it as well.

Mike: Is it hard on the actors to go from the weighty matter into the humor? Or is the humor just kind of interwoven so it it is pretty straight forward.

Chris: When the play is well written as Rabbit Hole is, one of the things that you find is that the humor ends up being a necessary component of the emotional arc. That it acts as kind of a safety valve if you will to relieve some of the emotional tension that you build up in some of the heavier moments. And so when a play is well constructed you will find some of these moments in exactly the right place when you need a laugh to get past where you just got to as a character or indeed as an audience member. I find that Rabbit Hole is very well calibrated in that sense.

Mike: Was it difficult getting the right actors to bring up this family?

Chris: I would have to say no. I had a tremendous selection from some incredible talent from all over the area that auditioned for me. Actually the hard part was narrowing it down to just the people I could actually cast rather than finding a place for everybody. There are only five characters in the show and unfortunately you can’t cast everybody.

Mike: And did Silver Spring’s unique stage configuration pose any challenges?

Chris: Not especially. I’ve done a fair bit of work at Silver Spring Stage both as an actor and a lighting designer in addition to directing. It is a space I am familiar with and pretty comfortable in. It really ends up being that you have to kind of deal with it as a theater in the round plus you get to have a couple of walls. That is really the best way to look at it. So I would say there wasn’t any particularly challenging elements to that.

Mike: It seems like Rabbit Hole is being done a lot lately. It won the Pulitzer, what four yeras ago?

Chris: Yes, 2006 so four years ago.

Mike: So it has just become available so everyone is doing it.

Chris: That is kind of the feel. Although it is interesting in the area. Olney did it. I think they were the first ones in the area to do it. And then the following season Colonial did theirs. Then this last fall Every Man up in Baltimore did it. A couple of the cast from Olney were also in that production as well. I know Foundry ws slated to do it last year and ended up not doing it.

Mike: Did you see any of those other productions?

Chris: Yes I did.

Mike: So was that hard? If you have seen something that you are interested in doing and kind of taking it and doing some parts differently. How does that process work?

Chris: It was actually an interesting experience for me. There are some directors who go into isolation when they are working on a show and do not have any contact with anyone else’s production or ideas or anything else like that. For me it ended up being a very fascinating way to look at the show. I was already so familiar with it and I had such a clear idea of what I wanted out of the show and what my ideas were that in seeing other people’s productions it was not really about this being an interesting idea and using that or that idea not really working for me. It was more of that was an interesting take on it.

Maybe in a couple places there might have been a few things when I saw a moment that I would have interpreted slightly differently or did not fit with my overall vision. But I think taken as a whole each production is so different in its vision that at least for me it doesn’t come across or feel like actually seeing the same show. I am probably not describing it very well, but that’s really what it feels like for me. It is more sort of like, “Oh, well this is an interesting play. It has a lot in common with the Rabbit Hole that I’m directing, but they are different plays.” Not sure if that explains that or not, but that is kind of how it feels for me.

Mike: Something that Laua and I have been struggling with is shows that are very well known and directors can not change certain parts of it, even thought they are not in the script. It is interesting seeing the same play. There are certain shows that we have seen four or five times. It is always fun to see the same show done differently.

Chris: Definitely. And that is the great thing about theater. Two productions with different directors and different casts even working from the same text. Even if you are dealing with a text that is extremely specific about how things have to be done, there is still so much room for creative interpretation. The things you pull back a little bit and the things you pull out a little bit that every production is a different animal.

Mike: Are you familiar with the rest of Silver Spring Stage’s season? Do you know how Rabbit Hole fits into the whole season? They have had an interesting mix of shows this year.

Chris: It has been an interesting season. Part of what we do at Silver Spring because we have seven or eight shows a season typically. We have an opportunity to do a variety of styles if you will and try and do some things that are familiar favorites. We did an Agatha Christie. We are doing Pygmalion this season. But then we also have the ability to intersperse it with some of the edgier more challenging drama or comedy, but this year The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, which is a very difficult play, but a wonderful production. And a great example of why Albee is great. We did www.ssstage.org.

Mike: Is there anything else you wanted to talk about with Silver Spring Stage or the show?

Chris: I guess I would just add that one of the reasons that I was drawn to this show in particular and why I think it is such a great play is tht although the specific situations are ones that anyone will ever have to encounter in their lives, there is an elment to that experience that speaks to a common experience that everyone will have and that we can all relate to. So there is an element of what theater does best.

As a very good friend of mine and a very talented director once put it, “why this matters” is that we the audience are able to learn something about ourselves and about our own lives through the vicarious experience of others on stage. And I think that is what David Lindsey-Abaire has done beautifully throughout this whole play.

Mike: Thank you very much for talking with me today. I do appreciate it.

Chris: Very glad to talk about it.

Cast

  • Becca: Andrea Spitz
  • Howie: Andrew S. Greenleaf
  • Izzy: Audrey Cefaly
  • Nat: Sally Cusenza
  • Jason: Stephen Sanow

Crew

  • Producer/Stage Manager: Bridget Muehlberger
  • Assistant Director: Joshua Greenwald
  • Set Design: Andrew Greenleaf
  • Sound Design: Kevin Garrett
  • Lighting Design: Amy Narron
  • Costume Design: Rachael Feola
  • Properties: Sonya Okin
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This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/4949.

started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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