5. What line from a former play have
you never forgotten and why?
I read Golda’s Balcony by William Gibson as soon as I
could get a copy. I wanted to go see Tovah Feldshuh’s performance but never made it. I remembered reading this line in
the play: “We can forgive you for making your sons kill our
sons, but we cannot forgive you for making our sons kill your
sons.” It really hit me. It was powerful and profound, and I
thought, because of that line, I have to do this play. A few
years later while preparing for rehearsal, I did my first reread
through. I discovered, to my surprise, that the line wasn’t
actually in the play! The actual quote is: “We can forgive the
Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for
forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with
the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate
us.” I have no idea where I read [the other line], but it’s the
line that inspired me to want to do it so badly.
6. What “against type” role are you dying to play?
I don’t see it as being so much against type, but I definitely haven’t been pegged for the classics in this town. I would
love to play Lyuba Ranevskaya or even Firs in the Cherry
7. What’s your classic actor nightmare dream?
Typical: opening night, never read the script, I’m in my slip
stuck in an elevator that’s spinning out of control, and I can’t
remember the combination to my locker. It all runs together
at this point in my life.
8. What’s been the best thing you’ve
seen this season and why?
I really liked John by Annie Baker at Road Less Traveled.
The play is full of uncomfortable and awkward silences and
pregnant pauses. It’s risky business to attempt to hold an
audience in suspense like that. David Oliver is a bold director and he gets it. My husband and I also loved the ensemble
work in Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling, directed by Kyle
LoConti at Desiderio’s.
9. Plugs for the rest of the season or something else?
I’m intrigued by the August Wilson Monologue Competition at The Paul Robeson Theatre happening in February.
Other than that, how do you choose from the cornucopia
of Buffalo theater? I want to see as much as possible, but
I’m always disappointed at the end of the season for having
missed so much. Every year I do a little better.
BY DONNA HOKE
1. What’s your relationship to this show?
The first time I played Rose, several years ago, I fell
in love with her like no other character I’ve ever played.
She’s not famous, she’s not a hero, she’s just real and
funny and sensitive, and she’s been through a hell of a
lot. But not necessarily the things you might expect from her
experience living through the Holocaust. When Saul [Elkin,
artistic director, Jewish Repertory Theatre] asked me to bring
her back, I couldn’t believe it. So many times, I’ve wished
that I could play her again. I’m older now, closer to her actual
age, more experienced, and I see the play in a brighter light.
2. What’s the best acting advice you were ever given?
Don’t be afraid to look ugly. Create your own work. Become
a skilled communicator when promoting your work. Don’t
bite your nails; you may need your hands for a commercial.
I’ve had a life-long struggle with that last one. I make a lot of
commercials but, fortunately, not too many require close-ups
of my fingernails.
3. What’s your best “the show went on” moment?
The most amusing was at Snyder Square during a production of Hedda Gabler. We had just purchased new plastic chairs for audience seating at the tables. Just as Hedda,
yours truly, was about to throw Eilert’s manuscript into the
fire in order to secure George and her future, the back legs of
a couple chairs splayed and heads in the audience were plummeting. It took a moment to process, but I figured there was
nothing I could do, so the show went on. The victims, both
rather large men, were very gracious and we gave them complimentary tickets for the rest of the season. They asked if
they could bring their own chairs next time.
4. What’s the role that got away?
I ran into a prominent Buffalo director about fifteen years
ago. I didn’t know him well at the time. He told me that he
was directing Three Sisters, and that my name came up for
a role, but that he had been told that I only worked at my
own theater. At the time, I was artistic director of The Actors
Workshop of WNY. The play had been cast by then, and I was
heartbroken. I would have loved a crack at Chekhov.
NINE QUESTIONS FOR CHRISTINA
RAUSA (Rose in Rose at Jewish Repertory Theatre)
and the Boys at
Shea’s 710 Main
A transfer from the
2016 Shaw Festival
season, Master Harold…
and the Boys was far and
away my favorite show
from that slate. A classic
that’s still taught in college
classrooms, it hasn’t lost
its appeal onstage. Largely
Harold was first produced
in 1982, forty years after the
incident the playwright has
dramatized: a schoolboy
argues with and ultimately
spits in the face of his
“most significant—the only
friend,” a black waiter at his
mother’s tea room.
Fugard has publicly
confided it took those
forty years for him to “deal
with the shame.” And it’s
that honesty, that painful
reality—as well as Fugard’s
beautiful writing, which
takes center stage as
the play slowly unfolds—
that makes this piece hit
so hard. With all the new
plays on race currently in
circulation—it’s a zeitgeisty
topic after all—there is
something about this one,
even though its set in South
Africa (where it was initially
banned) during 1950
apartheid, and its naked
exposure of privileged
racism that makes it
feel like the unflinching
grandfather of them all.
The Shaw production
was pitch perfect, earning
critical accolades across
the board for its fine
performances and flawless
tone. And while Shea’s 710
might deplete some of the
intimacy that enhanced the
production at the Court
Theatre, it’s still a second
chance to see a superb
production. How often does