Editor’s Note: Actress, writer, would-be filmmaker and overall Renaissance woman Marla Seidell—whose play reviews and reports you can now read on Picture this Post—has been working long hours getting ready for an upcoming production of THIS, THAT and THE OTHER THING, where she performs in each of the related one-act plays written by playwright Mike Brayndick. Picture this Post caught up with Marla Seidell to find out more about this upcoming work and her experiences so far with this and similar acting roles she has taken on, which you can read following…
Please tell our readers about This, That, and The Other Thing
There are three one-act plays, all written by Mike Brayndick: Fragments From the Permanent Collection, Only You Could Think That, and That is That.
Fragments From the Permanent Collection follows a lonely astronomer that approaches a stranger in the Art Institute, as the arc of a relationship plays out in miniature in a series of intertwining scenes. Only You Could Think That visits a philosophical café where the proprietor is intrigued by a frustrated consultant that turns people’s problems into bigger ones. In That is That, a play within a play, comedy is taken to hyperbolic proportions as the characters negotiate questions of status, power, and control, on two levels of reality at once.
Each play is different, but addresses the same result: that some things just are the way they are. The way we experience the decided nature of life, that is, the past, relationships not working out, death, conflicts and power struggles, are examined as a unifying question about existence across all three plays.
How many different roles do you play in this production?
In this production, I am in all three plays. I play a quirky proofreader, a frustrated consultant, and an egocentric leader of a theatre troupe, consecutively.
Have you had similar performances that require you to shift roles throughout the performance?
Yes, I have done that of course while performing improv onstage, and in my last play, Our Christian Nation [at Cornservatory] I played God, a quack doctor, and a young boy at a Christian ‘conversion’ camp. In the film Be Your Woman, I played dual roles—the male and female split personalities of the same person.
What are the special challenges/joys of having such a multi-role gig?
I absolutely love playing multiple characters onstage and I feel it is not only very challenging but also a rewarding experience as an actress. When I see plays, I particularly enjoy watching the actors that seamlessly slip into various roles throughout the course of the play.
Does this 3-related-but-separate playlets in any way change the rehearsal process?
We tackled one play at a time, and then put them all together. In particular, That is That was very challenging for all of, due to the language—like Beckett or Shakespeare—was not natural for us. It was also challenging for me, as I change my character from one scene to the next. I start out whiny and desperate, and by the second scene, I’m running the show and quite dominating.
Did you know or work any of your fellow cast members before this production?
No, everyone in this show is new to me, including Mike Brayndick, the writer, Pat Henderson, the director, and the other three members of the cast.
How did you get this gig?
I saw the notice online and submitted my Headshot and Resume. Mike emailed me and asked me to audition the following evening.
What type of audience members do you think will be most drawn to this work?
I think This, This, and The Other Thing will appeal to any who loves new works and philosophical, thinking kind of theatre. All shows are incredibly quirky and offbeat, so for those looking for something a little different, these one-acts are perfect!
How are you hoping to convey that to your audiences?
As with any work, I focus on being in the moment with my scene partners, and being as present and open to my own emotions as I possibly can.
Given your interests in filmmaking- how do you think this would translate into a film? Are there classic films that this script reminds you of?
Oh gosh! That is That would be a good Christopher Guest type of film, such as Waiting for Guffmann. Like the people in that film, my character thinks she is way more important than she really is—which is funny. With this play, we poke fun at theatre folks taking on grandiose ideas of self-importance, which of course is fun for us, and hopefully for the audience, too.
What have you discovered about this script by getting into the thick of it?
I discovered my own moments, that is, my vulnerability, my dominating side, my quirkiness, my drama, wit, wonder, and wackiness.
Which aspects of Brayndick’s writing are you especially drawn to? Why?
When I auditioned, I read for That is That, which I have to say is my favorite. It’s philosophical and farcical at the same time. I think This, That, and The Other Thing is similar to British plays in the sense that the scripts are very fast, witty, and wise. These are not the typical scripts I come across, and it’s refreshing to find work that is more symbolic and hyperbolic than I would normally do.
March 31 – April 28, 2016
Saturdays 2:30 PM
Berger Park Coach House Theatre
6205 N. Sheridan Rd. Chicago
For tickets visit the Brown Paper Tickets website or call 800 838 3006.
Tickets are also available at the theater for cash at the door.