The Road Theatre Company is proud to present an Exclusive Los Angeles Engagement of Edward Albee’s “The Play About the Baby.” Over the next several weeks we will be spotlighting the cast and creative team of this exciting play.
This week the spotlight is on award-winning actor and director Sam Anderson, a veteran member of the Road and co-artistic director.
What character do you play and how does he serve Albee’s vision?
I play MAN. I drive and guide the evening’s “entertainment,” all designed to get the other 3 characters down to the raw truth as I see it.
What is it like to do an Albee play?
It’s an amazing and bittersweet experience. Albee pushes the actor to the limits, and it’s like going to a master class every time we do it. Having him pass away on the day of our opening was something I’m still trying to process, but every time we perform it, I hope we are honoring him and doing him proud.
What is the message of The Play About the Baby?
I believe this piece has so much to do with innocence and experience and how people deal with loss, how each of us has our own “reality,” our own way of seeing the world, and how blind we are, how stuck in certain areas or ways of thinking, how the past affects the present, and how we mourn it once it passes.
What have you done to prepare?
Tough question. I read his wonderful biography by Mel Gussow. I thought a lot about vaudeville, and the theatre of cruelty, and I remembered from an interview that Albee said all of his plays in one way or another were about parenting.
What are audiences taking away?
It’s been so gratifying to listen to people discuss the show after, and like the cast, to accept you are not going to get all the answers wrapped up in a neat little bow, but there’s something to take away from it for every single person. I also love hearing the feedback that above all, audiences are really entertained by it and fascinated with it. I applaud their willingness to take it on its own terms.
Last week the spotlight was on Philip Orazio, a new member of the Road.
What character do you play? What purpose does he serve in the play?
I play “Boy” in the show. He is one half of a duo that is very much in love and living what seems to be the dream. The baby is ours and loved by us, until it is taken away. Ultimately, the Boy and the Girl are going on a Journey to discover who they are and how to frame the rest of their lives together.
How awesome is this to be working in an Edward Albee play!
SO AWESOME!!! I met Edward Albee while I was in Houston, Texas studying at the University of Houston, where he taught part time. The man was a genius. It’s not an opportunity many people get to be putting up his work at this caliber of a production. I’m honored to be a part of it.
With that in mind, tell us a little about the theme or issues of this new play from the master playwright.
Well… I don’t want to give too much away – but one of my favorite themes in the show is Memory – how beautiful and yet moldable it really can be. Nothing is set in stone, not even our experiences. I have been reading and researching the topic of memory- turns out every time you think of a memory, you are reconstructing it, from scratch, and in the same way, reforming it. Every time you remember something, it gets a little further away from the truth. This is what allows us to heal ultimately – distance from trauma or pain gives us new perspective, but at the cost of honesty. So yes, our minds are beautiful, moldable, and terrifying.
Are you doing any above board preparations for this role?
Working out. A LOT. (HA!) The Boy is in far better shape than I was when we started this process. But strict diet and daily exercise have gotten me to a place that I am comfortable with. On a side note, that is one of the great things about being an actor- it forces you to care for your body! Hopefully I will keep it up after the show closes. Fingers crossed.
What will audiences, in your opinion, take away from the play?
Total honesty here- this is going to be a very polarizing production. Some of the themes and content will appear almost disturbing to people. But when you take a closer look, you will see a deep and pure human condition in the performance, especially to anyone who has ever experienced deep pain in their own lives. It is a story of trading innocence for wisdom. So what audiences are going to take away is a very deep and real discussion of what we offered them. Ultimately, that is all any of us can want from good theater – a deeper look at ourselves and each other.
Last week’s spotlight was on Allison Blaize, a new member of the Road. She is making her debut in this play.
Who do you play in Edward Albee’s “The Play About the Baby”?
I play the character of “Girl.” In a basic sense, she represents the uninhibited innocence and purity of the seemingly “best version” of the female self.
How has your experience been so far?
It is truly a life-changing experience! It is such a treat to be working with writing that gives an actor the opportunity for discovery in every rehearsal and run.
What do you feel are Albee’s themes?
Great loss and identity are fundamental themes in this play. How one deals with the conflict of what “should be” and “what is” is a constant in this play. What lengths will an individual go through to keep self-preservation in times of major tragedy? Ultimately, the play poses the question, “Can one only find true identity in times of tragedy and unwavering loss?”
Nothing I would consider above and beyond preparation. I have spent a lot of time researching motherhood and the subjective bond of mother and child.
What do you expect audiences will take away with them?
The beauty of this play is that audiences will leave with something different every night. However, I do hope the audiences will take away that in the deepest depths of despair even, “beyond salvation,” there is always a chance of discovery, growth and hope.