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.
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.