“Baby” Talk: A Conversation With the Cast of “The Play About the Baby”

The play about the baby page“Edward Albee is so funny, so biting and says the most amazing things about human nature,” says Phil Johnson, director of Monday night’s staged reading of The Play About the Baby. “But, he does it in a way that is so poetic and has so much artistry to it. And in the end, the point he leaves you with is so enormous, so enlightening.”

Phil Johnson

Phil Johnson

Such strong statements can rarely be said about just any playwright, which is why Albee is considered one of the greatest living American playwrights of our time. From his early work in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (which will have a future mainstage production at Intrepid) to this, one of his later offerings, over and over, and for better or worse, Albee’s plays expose and illuminate the truth in our very human nature.

As in Virginia Woolf, The Play About the Baby centers around two couples, one younger and more naive, and one offering the depth and darkness of experience. The younger couple, Boy and Girl, give birth within the confines of their idealistic worldview and are soon visited by Man and Woman, who have come to take the baby away. What ensues is a dark exploration of human nature, the reality of loss and the necessity of forging on with existence.

Ruff Yeager

Ruff Yeager

While the nature of the play sounds bleak, leave it to the genius of Albee’s words to lead us through the darkness while holding hands with the absurd. Shana Wride and Ruff Yeager, formidable talents with the charisma to tackle this unique brand of humor, will take charge of that journey, portraying the Woman and Man in Monday’s reading.

“The absurd form is one of my favorite genres of dramatic literature,” enthuses Ruff. “The games that these characters play! Role-reversal, gender-reversal, devaluation of language, logic, and plot! If the audience loves a good mystery, the brilliance of Edward Albee, and the witty and wily manipulation of language, this play is certainly not to be missed.”

Laura Bohlin_0744_Headshot

Laura Bohlin

Bringing the naivete of Girl and Boy to life will be Laura Bohlin and Connor Sullivan, their characters both charged with the daunting task of the play’s awakening.

“One of the most chilling takeaways for me was how much our reality can be morphed according to what, or perhaps WHO, influences us,” says Laura, pinpointing the stark universal truths couched in the absurdist structure of this piece.

“If someone tells you that something is the truth enough times, you may start to internalize that even if your own perceptions have told you otherwise. This really resonated with me because of how often we are told, persuaded, or even coerced to believe certain untruths,” she says.

Shana Wride

Shana Wride

Finding these universal truths where both the challenges and opportunities of this play lie. Assembling a cast that could unpack the particular language of this search was not an easy task. “I read this play on a fluke,” confesses Phil, “and it was so very funny, and then the point it made was so devastating. I knew I had the right people,  and we could do it well.”

In the 2001 Off-Broadway review for The New York Times, Ben Brantley stated that “tragic theater, from Oedipus onward, has always centered on that moment when time is up. Mr. Albee…accepts this harsh given of existence unconditionally. But he refuses to sob and whine about it. Cursing the darkness is easy; lighting candles of defiant, fiery wit, like those that illuminate The Play About the Baby, is heroic.”

Connor Sullivan

Connor Sullivan

It is no wonder that we have entrusted the interpretation of some of our bigger, more human experiences to adept playwrights such as Edward Albee. We invite you to join us on Monday for this heroic journey.

“A big ‘thank you’ to Intrepid Theatre Co.,” says Ruff, “for providing the opportunity to explore the edgy, the experimental and the exciting.”

 

The Play About the Baby by Edward Albee. A staged reading. Monday, November 23, 2015. 6:30 pm appetizer reception. 7 pm reading. $15. Encinitas Library. 540 Cornish Drive. RSVP to boxoffice@intrepidtheatre.org and pay with cash/check at the door or purchase tickets online.
Encinitas Library