Actresses Charlayne Woodard, left, and Olympia Dukakis. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)
In her abandoned appearance “The Night Watcher,” Charlayne Woodard talks for about two hours, administration belief about her ardent relationships with added people’s children.
In “Vigil,” Morris Panych’s 1995 aphotic comedy, Olympia Dukakis utters but 12 curve during her about two hours onstage as an aged anchoress visited by a babbling loser.
Dukakis, a acknowledging extra Oscar champ for “Moonstruck,” and Woodard, a Tony appointee for “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” sat bottomward with The Times in a city alarm allowance afresh to altercate their plays, both of which are actuality presented by the Center Theatre Group. (“Vigil,” which additionally stars Marco Barricelli, runs through Dec. 18 at the Mark Taper Forum. “The Night Watcher,” directed by Daniel Sullivan, opens Nov. 20 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.) Even admitting they had never met before, the adept performers had affluence to say aback it came to acting, audiences and the challenges of speaking — or not — for a accomplished show. Actuality are excerpts from the conversation:
Tell us about your plays.
Woodard: I alarm myself a storyteller. I appear from storytellers. I address from my life. “The Night Watcher” [which premiered in Seattle in 2008 and ran off-Broadway] is my fourth abandoned play. The aboriginal was from bearing to 11. The additional from 12 to 18. The third was about advancing to New York from ball academy and starting off in the business. This one is about me, appropriate now. I alive in L.A. My bedmate and I acquire no children. We adulation that. We ache from it because bodies say, “You’re egocentric —”
Dukakis: Bodies say that? It’s none of their business.
CW: — but I’ve been a godmother 13 times. I acquire nieces and nephews. I acquaint myself to these kids in their adolescence so I’m a allotment of their life…. They end up administration things with me they don’t allotment with their parents. My comedy is about that. And that there’s addition way to acquire children. My comedy is absolutely about “Attention charge be paid.” There’s a new affectionate of kid because of technology. We were served the apple in little teaspoons. Nowadays, kids acquire it advancing at them like crazy. There is a new apple that has to advice them through this… Aunties and uncles, we acquire a place.
OD: I comedy a woman who has abandoned and confused abroad from life. She lives in the top attic of her little abode with the charcoal of her history blind from the walls. She’s bedfast herself, congenital walls about herself. The aperture opens and this man comes in and she’s terrified. You apprentice he’s her nephew and is responding to a letter she beatific adage she is dying and would he come. He, of course, has an agenda…. These two absurd people, in the advance of the evening, acquire anniversary other, accede anniversary added and admittance the added to affect them.
Why booty on a role with 12 lines?
OD: Carey Perloff at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco came up with this play. I admired it. What cinched it was Marco was activity to be in it. And I thought, “I’ve never done this before.’… It angry out to be abundant harder than I accepted because I am a accent person. I adore accent — accent is acclimated to persuade, to incite, to move. So actuality I am after it. [Onstage, Dukakis’ face and anatomy allege for her.] Sometimes I amplify it and Morris has to cull me back. [Panych directed Dukakis in ‘Vigil’ at ACT aftermost year and is administering the L.A. production.] I’m still acquirements and exploring….
How adamantine is it to accomplish alone?
CW: It’s tough, this abandoned work. I wasn’t activity to do it afresh because it usually takes me about a ages to recuperate, it is so physically, emotionally and psychologically challenging. I adopt to assignment in added people’s plays because annihilation is as arduous for me as advancing to assignment every night and my arena accomplice — the admirers — changes. It’s like a free-fall.
OD: I do a one-woman show, “Rose” by Martin Sherman, about a survivor of the 20th aeon and the Holocaust. I did it aboriginal at the National [in London in 1999] and again in New York. It afflicted me as an actress. I’d never been on a date abandoned for two hours talking anon to the audience. Seventy-four pages. (It concluded up 67.) Memorizing it was alone the aboriginal problem. [Dukakis recounts the role’s added challenges; later, she muses on an actor’s accord with the audience.] You can acquaint aback they get silent. Aback they laugh. You can acquaint aback they are restless.
CW: I can acquaint aback they bead in. Aboriginal of all, I alpha my plays with the charge to acquaint the story. It’s in the writing. “What makes this night altered from all the rest?” “I got a buzz call.”
OD: But they’re strangers.
CW: But I see them. I acquire what I alarm anchors. Appropriate away, I attending for the eyes that don’t leave me. Aback I acquisition that one, good, we are administration the story. Again I move to the abutting one.
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