Fall Arts Issue
Magenta Giraffe introduces the season with a ripe rarity from a master dramatist
Published: September 14, 2011
MT: Do you know why Freud was compelled to write an essay about Rosmersholm character Rebecca West? Or what it said?
Shepard-Bates: Freud was fascinated by the character of Rebecca West; she has the most complex backstory of any of the characters in the play. He was taken by her being motivated in many of her actions by what he deemed to be a classic Oedipus complex — which will be explained further when you see the play. I don't want to ruin anything.
MT: What kind of man is the protagonist, Johannes Romers?
Shepard-Bates: He has strong views, but does not come to any of those views on his own. He is idealistic to the extent of being somewhat childlike; he takes his cues from people around him.
MT: What does Rosmersholm require of the actors?
Shepard-Bates: The play has been very challenging for all of us because the characters are so densely layered. There is nothing easy about Rosmersholm. The actors have been very willing to dive in and explore these complicated psyches, and we've taken our time finding out how exactly to approach the characters. There has been a lot of experimenting and exploring, and, luckily, these actors are more than up to the task of figuring all of it out.
MT: How did you find the experience of casting this play as opposed to others? Was it particularly hard or easy?
Shepard-Bates: This play was actually fairly easy to cast. The actors I wound up casting really stood out in auditions, showing that they already understood the characters and situations to a certain extent. They are extremely committed and skilled artists, and it has been a joy working with them. The actors playing the three "lead" roles have been very brave and determined about figuring out what makes their characters tick, which is not all on the surface and must be dug for.
MT: Before we go, is it true that you are putting on theater workshops this fall?
Shepard-Bates: Yes. We are continuing our workshops for theater artists of all levels this fall and winter, on a monthly basis. One example of a workshop we teach is monologue coaching, which has proven to be popular and effective. All of the workshops are taught by Lisa Melinn, who brings a wealth of experience to the table and approaches these workshops with a sense of fun and encouragement.
MT: Finally: You've been fighting hard for four years to help grow the Detroit theater district. How's it going?
Shepard-Bates: It's certainly been very challenging, but I feel like we've gained a strong foothold in the theater community. The main challenge we have been facing is the usual one: coming up with the funds to allow the company to continue to thrive and grow. We'll be holding a number of fundraisers this season, and we'd love to see some new faces there. We'd just love to see more people coming to see theater.
Opens 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, with performances at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Oct. 8, as well as a 3 p.m. matinee Sunday, Oct. 2, at 1515 Broadway, Detroit; tickets suggested $18 for general admission, $15 for students, seniors and industry. Reservations at 313-408-7269 or magentagiraffe.org.
> Email Travis R. Wright