Through the Eye of a Needle Cast and Crew Interviews

The Road on Lankershim is proud to present the world premiere family drama Through the Eye of a Needle by Jami Brandli. The play opened Friday March 23 and has been extended through May 26. Over the next several weeks we will continue to spotlight those associated with this show. This week we shine the light on the director veteran Roadie Ann Hearn.

 

Ann Hearn

As director of Through the Eye…what are your greatest challenges in mounting the play?

There are two areas of challenge with this play:

1) the technical needs – to provide the playing space for multiple areas of a home and focused simultaneous action in each, plus special props and effects —  in a small theatre with a limited budget

and

2) to create the tone of the play that captures the quieter serious moments along with bursts of crazy delightful humor that is the playwright Jami Brandli’s signature.

Talk about what the playwright has achieved.

Jami (Brandli) navigates between beautiful opposites.  The recognizable situations:  difficult holidays, family members attempting (and maybe failing) to cope, the quarrels between parents and children, and between spouses, and all our expectations for those holidays.  This set against the unfamiliar that we can only horribly imagine:  loss, estrangement, those we count on who may let us down when we most need it.

From holiday chaos comes miraculous clarity and the gift of how things can fall out in the universe to give us the healing and support we need.  Jami mixes crushing hurt and joyful humor; it is a journey audiences seem grateful to take with our Ft. Lee, New Jersey family.

Talk about your cast.

Our cast is a stunning combination of actors who have passion for the play and their characters. David Gianopoulos has championed the play and playwright from the time he first read the play, and embraces Larry with all his heart and courage. Meeghan Holaway understands and brings all the deep loss of a mother, along with a cheery optimism that makes you believe that this family can survive and bring good to the world. Daughters Dana and Samantha, played by Kara Hume and Kaitlin Huwe reveal the dedication and strength needed in our world, and give us hope that there are people – both as characters and human beings – that can create a better society for us. Kaitlin’s humor and enthusiasm is infectious.  Kara’s solid determination and stubbornness simply makes me cheer for her.  As Pastor Bill and his wife Shirley, Chet Grissom and Stephanie Erb have all the tools of exquisite actors deft at comedy.  You know you are in good hands with them, and they surprise and delight, and move me, every rehearsal and performance.  And Erica Mathlin is an uncommon actor who can do anything you ask, with clarity, seeming effortlessness, believability and humor.  I have felt so fortunate to work with them all; I have learned from them, been inspired by them, and driven to keep searching for the unexpected insights each has brought.

 What do you hope audiences will take away?

A bit of knowledge and curiosity about things they may not know much about.  And that healing can come in unexpected ways … and that hopeless is not necessarily so.

THE ROAD ON LANKERSHIM is located in the historic Lankershim Arts Center at 5108 Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood. Call (818) 761-8838 or go online to lankershimartscenter.com for info and tickets. Arrive early for street parking.

 

The Road on Lankershim is proud to present the world premiere family drama Through the Eye of a Needle by Jami Brandli. The play opened Friday March 23 and runs through May 13. Over the next several weeks we will spotlight the director and cast of the show. This week we shine the light on Roadie Kaitlin Huwe.

Kaitlin Huwe

What character do you play in Through the Eye… and how does she contribute to the play? 

I play “S” not Samantha. She is planning a protest and on a mission to change the world.

How are you preparing to meet any challenges? 

I got to learn some Karate for this role, and it was super fun and activating! 

Talk about your cast and director Ann Hearn

The cast is absolutely amazing. Everyone is a master class. I love working on this show because it’s a true ensemble piece.  We are all basically on stage the whole time, dancing and flowing together. It’s beautiful. 

Ann is an amazing director; throughout the process, she gave me tiny but potent nuggets of fuel for my character. She would give me one little moment to think about, or contextualize a scene in a certain way, that really resonated with me.  

What do you feel is the message of the play? 

Right now, my message is “Come to the theatre, and find out for yourself!”

This play has so many layers, and story lines, there are so many things that will move you.

What do you hope audiences will take away with them? 

I hope people enjoy their night out. I hope people feel entertained and educated. I hope people feel that it’s okay to feel. I hope people feel moved and awakened in some way.

THE ROAD ON LANKERSHIM is located in the historic Lankershim Arts Center at 5108 Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood. Call (818) 761-8838
or go online to lankershimartscenter.com for info and tickets. Arrive early for street parking.

 


The Road on Lankershim is proud to present the world premiere family drama
Through the Eye of a Needle by Jami Brandli. The play opened Friday March 23 and runs through May 13. Over the next several weeks we will spotlight the director and cast of the show. This week we shine the light on Roadie Kara Hume.

Kara Hume

What character do you play in Through the Eye… and how does he (she) contribute to the play? 

I play Dana Keen, the eldest daughter of Barbara and Larry. Dana is the hub of the play’s wheel; the character at the heart of all the action. Everything that transpires in our story happens because, in one way or another, Dana triggers it.

 How are you preparing to meet any challenges? 

I approached Dana the way I do all of my roles – through my relationships to the other characters in the play, and how I feel about each of them. I grew up studying Shakespeare, so I always go back to the text for clues. Word choice, punctuation, what other characters have to say about Dana…it all informs my reading. Kaitlin (S) and Erica (Nasser) both had these incredible sounding experiences being coached for karate, dialect, and learning to play the oud, which I envied. I dunno, maybe I should have joined a bootcamp or at least taken a CPR course?!

Talk about your cast and director Ann Hearn

This is such a theater cliche, but we are really like a family. We are so close, spend so much time together, know each other’s habits, love each other, drive each other nuts, make each other laugh….our rehearsal process was long, but a true labor of love around this beautiful new play. Ann has led us with the most incredible warmth, love, and vision. She knows what she wants, but also encourages us to play and try anything and everything that comes to mind. Some of our most memorable rehearsals were held at Ann’s home — what a treat to work on this family-centric play in a real kitchen and living space. (And homemade honey cookies from Ann’s beehive in her garden never hurt, either! I was totally spoiled when we switched our prop cookies to store-bought!)

What do you feel is the message of the play? 

TTEOAN has so many messages, I don’t know if I can boil it down to one thought. S learns to fight for what’s right, even and especially when it’s hard. Larry and Barbara teach us how to work through grief, and that we must allow ourselves to fully feel pain before we can start to heal. Shirley owns her voice and her struggles with mental health. Bill learns a tough lesson about inclusion. Nasser demonstrates that bravery, courage, and trust are not mutually exclusive. Dana shows me that it’s better to live and love with your full heart, because the benefits always outweigh the risk. 

What do you hope audiences will take away with them? 

I really love the Rumi quote, and hope it makes an impression on you, too: “Sorrow prepares you for Joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new Joy can find space to enter…Whatever Sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take its place.” Don’t let fear of feeling emotions keep you from talking to your loved ones. Be open with those you care about; tell them and show them you love them, every day. Say yes to everything; the greatest gifts come from the most unexpected places. 

THE ROAD ON LANKERSHIM is located in the historic Lankershim Arts Center at 5108 Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood. Call (818) 761-8838
or go online to lankershimartscenter.com for info and tickets. Arrive early for street parking.

 

The Road on Lankershim is proud to present the world premiere family drama Through the Eye of a Needle by Jami Brandli. The play opens Friday March 23 and runs through May 13. Over the next several weeks we will spotlight the director and cast of the show. This week we shine the light on Roadie Meeghan Holoway.

Meeghan Holoway

What character do you play and how does she contribute to the play?

I play Barbara Keen, Sam and Dana’s mom.  Barbara is doing all she can to make this Christmas a happy one despite the tragedy in their lives. She is often overwhelmed, but hope springs eternal with her, and she won’t give in.

What is you greatest challenge as an actor?

Every play has its own challenges and this one is no different.  You just have to be patient with the struggle and know that the answer will eventually present itself. When something feels unnatural, or I hit a wall emotionally, my biggest challenge is always to search for and, I hope, find where my character is different from me. I have to ask myself who I need to be, so that thing no longer feels unnatural, and that emotion flows easily from that other person, where it might not from me.

Talk a bit about your fellow castmates and director.

Ann (Hearn) is amazing! She has worked as hard as all of the rest of us put together! She has been supportive and seemingly tireless in her efforts to satisfy the needs of the play and the needs of the actors. Her devotion to telling this story is complete. And my fellow cast members are incredible – each and every one.  Acting is so easy when you look into the eyes of another actor and see that they are totally present in the reality of the story. It’s like floating. All I have to do it look at my castmates to find the reality of the situation at any given moment. They never fail me. My only problem is that they are so good, at times I find myself enjoying their performances like I’m in the audience and I have to remember I’m NOT.

What in your opinion is the message of the play?

Wow! There are so many things to talk about here. I guess, from Barbara’s perspective – You can pray for what you think you want, but your prayers may be answered in a way that you never expected. And if you keep an open heart, that answer is better than anything you could have imagined. There is a poem in the play that really expresses it beautifully – but you’ll have to come see us to hear it.

What do you hope audiences will take away?

There is always a reason to hope.  

THE ROAD ON LANKERSHIM is located in the historic Lankershim Arts Center at 5108 Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood. Call (818) 761-8838
or go online to lankershimartscenter.com for info and tickets. Arrive early for street parking.

 

 

The Road on Lankershim is proud to present the world premiere family drama Through the Eye of a Needle by Jami Brandli. The play opens Friday March 23 and runs through May 13. Over the next several weeks we will spotlight the director and cast of the show. This week we shine the light on Roadie Stephanie Erb.

Stephanie Erb

What character do you play and how does she contribute to the play?

I play Shirley in Through the Eye of a Needle.  She functions as not only occasional comic relief, but as chief listener in the play. I like to think the audience can relate to Shirley’s reactions to things because they are spectators as much as she is for the most part. Although she is not the ultimate outsider, Shirley is coping with her own issues of not belonging, social awkwardness, and finding her own voice.

What is you greatest challenge as an actor?

I think the challenge of any play, especially a new play, is staying true to the playwright’s words and the director’s interpretation of those words. Consistency is key. I always read the play at least once a day while performing to stay on point.  Another challenge taken on primarily by the director and to some extent us actors is that much of the play is set at a dinner table with 6-7 people… try blocking that so that all the actors can be seen when they are talking (it’s impossible!).

Talk a bit about your fellow castmates and director.

Well, the cast is a delight.  And we have been rehearsing longer than most equity waiver plays I have done, so the closeness of the cast is indicative of that time spent. I love that this play has more female roles than your average work (seriously) – which is so important to me personally at this time in history and in my life. As for our director Ann Hearn, she is a stalwart warrior for the play. She has worked tirelessly to make sure every prop, costume, and line in this play is served as well as can be managed.  I have loved working with her because she has challenged me personally to do better and better with Shirley. It is often easy for a director to settle for “good” when looking for the truth of a play, but Ann does not, and will never do that.  I appreciate and love her for her tireless focus on the truth of the play and the search for solutions to the problems. She even came up with ideas in her sleep!

What in your opinion is the message of the play?

I feel there are, of course, multiple messages in this play.  Not only does everyone in this work have a secret to keep (or divulge,) but they all cope with these secrets, loss, and exclusion with their own coping mechanisms. I know it was very important to the playwright to share the story of the horrible fate of most musicians in Iraq…as well as many details of that particular part of history most folks don’t know. To me, it is a play about people searching for their individual voices and whether that is achieved or not is, well, you have to come see the show. 

What do you hope audiences will take away?

I hope the audience will leave with a bit more knowledge of things that occurred in Iraq, of course, but also have that release of watching a family come to terms with loss. Losses like we all must endure as humans.  And, I also hope that laughs will be had along the way. Because what is life but laughs and tears all jumbled up into a crazy patchwork that theatre spreads out for the audience in a span of two hours or less?  It is why theatre is such a unique and beloved art.  

THE ROAD ON LANKERSHIM is located in the historic Lankershim Arts Center at 5108 Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood. Call (818) 761-8838
or go online to lankershimartscenter.com for info and tickets. Arrive early for street parking.