What notions or themes in this play inspired you and your students to perform it?
I love Stephen Adly Guirgis’ work. He is a major voice in the American theatre. This is one of his funniest and most dramatic plays. It is extremely entertaining and, at the same time, dramatic and thought-provoking. That’s a hard trick for a playwright to pull off, and he’s done that. There is full humor and deep tragedy in this play, which is what makes it a great piece of dramatic literature. I like the ideas he is dealing with–about how the past intrudes on the present and the future is unknown.
How did you cast this production? Do you work with a “company” of actors at LACC?
We do not have campus-wide auditions. It was cast from among the eligible actors in the Theatre Academy’s three-year, professional actor training program. The play was chosen because of my belief that we had a number of actors that could serve this play well. It was actually quite difficult to cast because there were so many good actors vying for these twelve parts.
You are working with a great script and a talented group of actors. What is your job as director?
To serve the play and the playwright. To render onstage the best possible communication of the playwright’s work. If I do that, I also take care of the audience at the same time.
How long and how often are you rehearsing?
We will have rehearsed for four weeks, six days a week, four to six hours a day. It’s a tough job [for the students], balancing class work and production work. We require complete commitment to both so we are all very tired at the end of the week.
The language in Our Lady is salty at times. What do you tell people who may be turned off by the prospect of sitting through a play that makes liberal use of profanities?
This is the way these characters speak and express themselves. In the play the action is played out in three major locations–a church, a funeral parlor and a bar. One of the characters in the play says that God spends more time in the bar than the church. The truth is these characters are speaking truth–and their profanity is part of their truth. There is wisdom being spoken–even when the speaker is using profanities.
The world of this play is one that combines the sacred and the profane–as symbolized by the church on one hand and the bar and grill on the other. Ultimately this is a play about reunion, of people reuniting, or at least, attempting to reunite. Of homecoming. And it’s a play about forgiveness–of people trying to find union. Union with each other and with themselves. The characters are here to rectify the past, to correct something, to purify something, to cure themselves, to put things right, to repair the damage of their lives.
Michael Herring October 2, 2014