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Lauren Hirsch on LUNA GALE

Posted on November 14, 2017

After I read Luna Gale, I knew I had to be a part of this production. I cried when I first read the script by Rebecca Gilman. I was deeply touched by these characters and their struggles and complexity. Then reading the script again, I was fascinated by how she wove the whole play so intricately – every scene holds significance. When Michael Stevenson cast me as Karlie, I was ecstatic. I was also nervous because I would be onstage with actors I really admire, but every actor on this production welcomed everyone with open arms and laughter.  

LUNA GALE by Rebecca Gilman

Lauren Hirsch & Amy Resnick* in LUNA GALE by Rebecca Gilman at Capital Stage. Directed by Michael Stevenson. Photo by Charr Crail. *Member Actors’ Equity Association.

Something I really admired during this process, even though we were discussing heavy material, is that we were all able to find the humor – either from our lives or in the play and share it with one another. Michael, our director, opened the door for that enjoyment every rehearsal. He created a safety net of trust from the beginning, which has continued through the performances keeping all of us sane, even when real life became disconcerting.

The #MeToo movement took hold during our Tech and into our preview performances. My Facebook news page was flooded with #metoo, with some brave souls sharing their stories. Sexual assault allegations continue to appear in the news as men and women rally their courage to speak about the invasion of their being. This movement struck a chord with me, and I realized how important Luna Gale is in this way and how relevant it is with two women revealing their assaults in this play and how their lives were forever altered from that moment.

Luna Gale also deals with drug abuse and the foster care system. After every performance my fellow actors and I find ourselves speaking with a social worker or two about how the content of this play is what they deal with on a daily basis. The foster care system was not something I thought about ever, but this play has made me think about it and the children who are unfortunately lost in the shuffle of paperwork, and the social workers doing their best for these children.

This play has made me reconsider how I should contribute to society. It has me questioning many things. Is there a way to heal drug addictions? Is there a way to stop sexual assault? In what way can I help the foster care system?

My time on this production has been incredible, and I know it has altered me as an actor and as a human being. 

 

Lauren Hirsch
Actor, Director & Capital Stage Apprentice

Rehearsing AN OCTOROON

Posted on September 20, 2017

Producing Artistic Director Michael Stevenson reflects on rehearsals for An Octoroon at Capital Stage

When I read An Octoroon, I remember being amazed at the script and at how the 19th century melodrama carried unintended echoes of the present. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ fearless and inventive adaptation jumbles time, contemporary values and humor with the hard realities of race in America today. I felt it was our obligation to do such a daring piece of theatre.

After Charlottesville, this play struck me with a new resonance. I felt I woke up in a new and disturbing world. After the shock and dismay of the white supremacist march in Virginia, we as a country started to question our identity and our progress – who are we?

I vividly remember the moment in rehearsal when one of our actors started putting on blackface. Judy Moreland, our director, and I were sitting in the theatre during our designer run, and the tension in the air was palpable. I squirmed in my seat, and watched with both fascination and dread as the actor playing Pete/Paul/Assistant carefully and silently applied the blackface makeup. It was a surreal feeling – witnessing something I never thought that I would actually see in real life. Just moments before, our lead actor had put on whiteface.

As I watched the actors fearlessly step across taboos, it occurred to me, the genius of this play is that it uses taboos and stereotypes to open our eyes to our own beliefs – to a take a new look at ourselves. Dion Boucicault, the author of the original play The Octoroon, wrote it as an anti-slavery piece, but he himself was full of prejudicial beliefs. It made me begin to question what beliefs do I carry that I’m not even aware of?

A friend of mine posted this picture the other day on Facebook with the caption:  “Here’s your statue.” 

We’ve come so far, but we still have so far to go.

 

Michael Stevenson
Producing Artistic Director
Capital Stage