Tag Archive | "Sarah Hunnewell"

Hampton Theatre Company to Present ‘Time Stands Still’

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Kate Kenney, John Carlin, John L. Payne and Sandy York. Photo by Tom Kochie.

Kate Kenney, John Carlin, John L. Payne and Sandy York. Photo by Tom Kochie.

By Tessa Raebeck

While we often think of completed scripts as specific ideas that were long-brewing in the head then finally put to page, sometimes a new play can begin with an idea as simple as “A new play.” Donald Margulies started “Time Stands Still,” by writing that unassuming idea in his notebook, followed by “A loft,” and a series of questions that became a play framed in the extreme circumstance of the Iraq War, but cemented in questions that plague all relationships.

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Sandy York and John Carlin. Photo by Tom Kochie.

Presented by the Hampton Theatre Company, “Time Stands Still” will open Thursday, January 8, at the Quogue Community Hall, the second production in the company’s 30th anniversary season. Directed by Sarah Hunnewell, HTC Executive Director, the Tony Award nominated drama follows photojournalist Sarah Goodwin, who has returned home to Brooklyn after nearly being killed by an IED while covering the Iraq War. Sarah struggles to adapt to life at home with her partner James Dodd. A freelance journalist, James was also reporting on the war, but returned home before Sarah, traumatized by his own horrendous experience and on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

James, portrayed by John Carlin, takes care of Sarah, who was hurt by the explosion. As the longtime couple struggles to adapt to a new life together, they are contrasted by the blossoming, promising marriage of Sarah’s editor, Richard Erlich, played by John L. Payne, and his much younger girlfriend Mandy, played by Kate Kenney.

The couple’s respective experiences at war helped to create the issues they grapple with once back home, but their struggles are inherent to many relationships; one partner wants to settle down and lead a “normal” life, while the other aches for the action provided by his or her career.

“It’s really a love story,” said Ms. Hunnewell, the director, adding, “The intensity of the jobs these people do has raised the stakes in their domestic situation.”

As their desired paths diverge, Sarah and James struggle to find a way in which their love can be enough to sustain a relationship that is no longer practical.

“You can have the best intentions and you can actually really love someone, and sometimes it still doesn’t work out. It’s this really beautiful, bittersweet aspect of just, life sometimes has other things in mind,” said Mr. Carlin.

The four actors, who are all newcomers to the company, and Ms. Hunnewell are working to find the truths of their characters beyond what the script provides, from where they were born to whether they took the subway or a cab to get to the stage that day.

“What every actor tries to do,” said Mr. Payne, a Long Island native who plays Richard, “is to make the person a real human being, and a real human being has lots of stuff that they carry around with them—they have history from their previous life, they have history from that day.”

Despite the traumatic circumstances surrounding the play, there is much humor found in the script, often in the form of Richard and Mandy, Sarah’s 55-year-old editor and his 25-year-old fiancé, who are having a child together. The trials of James and Sarah’s love are counteracted by the ease of the story’s other couple.

For Sarah, “this is the most insane thing she’s ever heard in her life,” said Ms. Hunnewell, “but he is incredibly happy, so it’s a question of priorities and what works for one couple and doesn’t work for another. It’s a study in relationships of all kinds.”

At first appearing to be the standard, happy 25-year-old bride-to-be that is oft positioned as the natural nemesis to an older female, Mandy challenges Sarah in a much more human, and intriguing, manner. The significance of Sarah’s career in her own eyes is heightened by the sense that photographing the war helps the situation by telling its truth to the world, but Mandy questions the substance behind seeing the bloodshed.

“I guess,” said Ms. Hunnewell, “it could be said about the value of anyone’s work—particularly for workaholics and for people who just put work above everything—is what any of us actually do for work that important? Are we achieving something? Is it changing the world for the better, is it not changing the world for the better, and if a job is as dangerous as hers, is it worth it?”

“Time Stands Still” runs Thursday, January 8 through January 25 at the Quogue Community Hall. For more information and special dinner packages, visit hamptontheatre.org or call 1-866-811-4111.

After 23 Years, the Hampton Theatre Company Revives “The Foreigner”

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The Hampton Theatre Company in "The Foreigner." Courtesy of director Sarah Hunnewell.

Krista Kurtzberg, Ben Schnickel, Matthew Conlon and Diana Marbury in “The Foreigner.” Photo by Tom Kochie.

 

By Tessa Raebeck

After a widely successful run in 1991, “The Foreigner” will return to Quogue this month as the Hampton Theatre Company revives of one of its greatest hits.

“This show is just a very, very funny comedy, which we did 23 years ago with huge, huge sell-out success and so we decided, 23 years later, to revive it,” said HTC executive director Sarah Hunnewell, who is directing the play this time around.

“The Foreigner,” written by the late playwright Larry Shue, will run from March 13 through March 30 at the Quogue Community Hall.

It is the best-known play by Mr. Shue, a promising young playwright and actor who died in a plane crash at the pinnacle of his success in 1985. At the time of his death, two of Mr. Shue’s productions, “The Foreigner” and “The Nerd,” were enjoying successful runs both in London and New York, he was gearing up to make his Broadway debut as an actor and he was working on a screenplay of “The Foreigner” with Disney.

“It’s a silly play, but it has a lot of cards and it actually says some nice things about life and people and all that kind of stuff—but it’s wildly entertaining at the same time,” said Ms. Hunnewell.

Unhappy with his life, Charlie, a shy and awkward Englishman, is brought to a quaint fishing lodge in the middle of rural, backwoods Georgia by his friend Froggy.

“He basically, at the beginning, thinks he should never have come and is completely horrified with the fact that he’s there and he’s horrified by this seedy, peculiar fishing lodge in the rural south,” the director said.

Rather than adapting to his surroundings, Charlie decides to pretend to be a non-English speaking foreigner and invents a strange dialect so that no one will talk to him.

Diana Marbury and Matthew Conlon in "The Foreigner." Photo by Tom Kochie.

Diana Marbury and Matthew Conlon in “The Foreigner.” Photo by Tom Kochie.

“That’s sort of the comic premise of the play, the fact that he politically doesn’t speak any English,” Ms. Hunnewell said.

About to abandon his role-playing, Charlie gets stuck in his position when those around him begin to spill their secrets in front of him under the assumption he knows no English. Upon discovering an evil plot, Charlie must expose it without also exposing his own cover.

“It’s just a lovely, very fun piece and we’ve got a wonderful cast who are a joy to work with and all very talented,” said Ms. Hunnewell, who has directed all but two of the actors before.

Matthew Conlon is returning to the HTC stage after a near 20-year hiatus to play the lead role of Charlie. “It’s a nice fit, it’s like going home to that theater,” said Mr. Conlon of his return to the Quogue stage.

“The character is just like an outsider. It’s an outsider story about someone who finds himself through the challenge of having to extend himself to other people,” said Mr. Conlon. “At its heart, it’s sort of a sublime foolishness, but it has a heart to it. There’s something about this play that’s very sweet and real.”

Longtime HTC members Diana Marbury and James Ewing are reprising the roles they played in the original production, with Ms. Marbury as the naïve innkeeper Betty Meeks and Mr. Ewing as “this nasty southern stereotype guy,” Owen Musser, said Ms. Hunnewell.

“Jim is having a wild time, he loves his character. He plays the bad guy—which is always very fun to do,” Ms. Hunnewell said.

“It’s always interesting to come back to a role and just revisit it and see how it changed,” said Ms. Marbury. “You have different casts, so the other people involved in the show bring a different dynamic to the play itself—and, consequently, to you and your character. So, each time it’s a very fresh kind of piece.”

Other HTC veterans include Joe Pallister as the complicated Reverend David Marshall Lee, Terry Brockbank as the cheerful Froggy and Ben Shnickel as Ellard Sims, “sort of the comic character because he’s very dumb,” according to Ms. Hunnewell.

“Our new Ellard is just a charming young man that has done some work with us and really has quite a good grip on the character,” Ms. Marbury said of Mr. Shnickel.

James Ewing and Matthew Conlon in "The Foreigner." Photo by Tom Kochie.

James Ewing and Matthew Conlon in “The Foreigner.” Photo by Tom Kochie.

Newcomer Krista Kurtzberg plays the beautiful young debutante Catherine Simms. A native of Georgia, Ms. Kurtzberg is “a great addition in terms of getting our accents right,” said Ms. Hunnewell.

Primarily a drama director, Ms. Hunnewell has found a welcome challenge in directing comedy, especially with her cast of friends and longtime collaborators.

“The actors in a comedy have to just be good comic actors because you cannot teach comedy. Comedy is all about timing, delivery and timing, and if you haven’t got it, you haven’t got it,” she said.

“The challenges of doing this kind of comedy for me are to play it as truthfully as possible,” added Mr. Conlon. “This character, Charlie Baker, is funny because of situation and circumstances. I don’t think he’s trying to be funny, I think it comes. So for me, it’s to really find the values and the moment-to-moment reality that allow the play to be funny.”

“There just has to always be truth in the character, and as long as the character is real, the comedy or the drama come out of that,” said Ms. Marbury. “One of the tricky parts is not just playing for laughs, so the laughs come out of the truth of the character and also the dialogue—the premise itself.”

“The Foreigner” will run from March 13 through March 30, on Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. at the Quogue Community Hall, 125 Jessup Avenue in Quogue. Tickets are $25 for adults, $23 for seniors (except on Saturdays) and $10 for students under 21. The Hampton Theatre Company is offering special dinner and theater packages in collaboration with the Southampton, Westhampton Beach, Hampton Bays and Quogue libraries. For more information or to make reservations, call 866-811-4111 or visit here.