The theatre is a direct descendant of religious ritual, and it also requires a collaborative, cooperative community ready to listen and compromise for a greater good in order to function smoothly and serve its purpose in society.
In Holy Laughter, currently playing until November 22, playwright Catherine Trieschmann has created a story about people facing joys, challenges, and surprises as a community. So we asked each of our cast members to share their answers to these three questions about their experience as part of our WAM Theatre Holy Laughter community:
- What has been your greatest joy working on this production?
- What has been your greatest challenge?
- What has been your biggest surprise?
Dana Harrison – Esther/Myra
My greatest joy has been the synergy of people and mission. The play is about people of diverse backgrounds coming together with the underlying common goal to form a spiritual community. And with our company we have remarkable artists, from Kristen to Catherine to Megan on through to the cast and crew, of varying backgrounds (in faith, age, geography etc) united toward helping tell this story and the larger cause of helping the two charities. In both cases there is something bigger than our individual selves at stake. It has also been a joy that, without exception, they are all kind, hard-working lovely people, and the play is hilarious! We feel joy in the work and hopefully that shows.
To call any of this a challenge gets a little slippery for me. I imagine coal mining is a challenge…. love this job and am always grateful to be able to do it.. But acting is indeed a craft, and my co-stars are incredibly hardworking craftspeople who raise the level of their own and my game all the time. To seek to create a character that is still being written, to be true to what is evolving on the page but also honor my own process and instincts is unique. It’s exciting, really.
What I will take away/biggest surprise : I am not being hyperbolic here, I actually will leave this process with a much greater personal understanding of the value of spiritual community wherever you can find it – a house of worship, a theatre company, a book club or charity group. It finally really hit me on this process that it’s no accident ‘Theatre’ and ‘Theology’ both have the same Greek root: Theos -meaning “Of or from God(s)”.
A group of people all doing something they love, with other people who love that thing too, which is of service or benefit to others or the world: that sounds like spiritual community to me. That is Holy Laughter and that is WAM.
I was also surprised -and delighted-to see the stage management team perform the final dance to near-perfection the other day with no rehearsal in their backstage-blacks and headsets.
Ron Komora – Lloyd & Victor
Greatest joy: The support of my castmates in developing the ensemble.
Greatest challenge: Evolving two separate characterizations without the aid of sophisticated makeup or elaborate delineating costuming (necessitated by quick changes).
Biggest surprise: The professionalism in every aspect of this little company that could: WAM! I am thoroughly enjoying the entire experience and wish it would never end!
Amie Lytle – Abigail
My greatest joy: this project has been overflowing with joy! The team of people that WAM has created is superb. I feel so grateful to get to work with this talented cast and crew every day. And the WAM family is so generous and delightful! I feel so welcomed into the community. My greatest joy is seeing this “team of misfits” grow and discover as a result of the hard work of our hugely talented playwright, our brilliant director and this group of actors. To watch the play change and grow over the past month has been a dream. And each change that Catherine makes is so intuitive it always felt like, oh of course Abigail would say that! (Which incidentally, makes the line learning a little easier!)
My greatest challenge has been embracing my role as a “leader” of sorts within this community of talented actors. I often play supporting roles and am more comfortable taking a step back. But just as Abigail needs to find her grounding and her confidence as a leader in the church, I’ve struggled to find my strength as an leading lady throughout this process. Thankfully, I had support from everyone involved including fellow actors encouraging me to embrace this role and let them support me as I take this journey. It’s my coming of age story in a truthful, almost literal way!
My surprise: I consider myself to be a spiritual agnostic. I was curious how this play would resonate with people who aren’t religious, like myself. The beautiful thing about this play is that there is a universal truth infused in the story. A feeling of coming together, community, relationships and love. There is something for everyone and the play really includes any type of “believer”! It’s exciting to see how regardless of people’s background or beliefs, we can all share in the grief and joy Abigail and her cast of misfits experience along their way!
Kimberlee Monroe – Martine & Vivienne
My greatest joy has been working for a company that uses their gifts to help others ! WAM is a First Class Theatre Company that treats their artist with such respect !!! There are many other reasons such as all the knowledge I gained in researching all different religious denomination , the Haitian History and dialect, working with a great writer and director. And exploring such a beautiful town.
My greatest challenge, hands down, was mastering the Haitian accent.
I didn’t have any big surprises. It’s just a wonderful journey I’ve been blessed to be on !!!
Benjamin Zoëy – Noah/Sam
I feel so lucky to get to work with such talented and creative people at every level. The cast, crew, WAM staff, volunteers, and donors are all so passionate about making good theatre and making a difference for women around the world.
It is always a challenge to play multiple characters in one piece. It forces you to make big choices that you can snap on at a moment’s notice. But challenges like that are why we love to perform!
I was pleasantly surprised with just how much collaborative trust everyone had with each other. Workshopping a new show can be a big challenge, but as an actor, I never felt that anything was being dictated to me. The show was a collaborative effort every step of the way.