This fall, the Williston Northampton Theater Program presents Rumors, a farce by Neil Simon. The play, which runs through the weekend of Oct. 27, examines the world of upper class New Yorkers through the lens of a high end anniversary party where everything that can go wrong, does. A few days before the play’s opening night, Williston’s student blogger Brendan Hellweg ’14 took a short break from Beyond the Binder to sit down with actor Laura McCullagh ’13 to talk about her role, her costume, and how she’d react if stuck in an elevator with her character, Chris Gorman.
BH: What do you like most about acting as your character?
I really love that she is very different from me as a person. I’m one of those people who in a crisis situation will sit down and think of every possible way to solve it and then figure out which way is the best to go about doing things and she just panics and everything goes out the window. It’s really fun to play with that aspect of her – that she’s absolutely crazy.
BH: What about her is so different from you?
The fact that she really, really cares about what other people think of her, and I do to some point but… I wear mismatched socks on purpose because I like them… She’s very put together but at the same time a complete mess.
BH: How is your character shaped by the costume you were given?
The costume is… fantastic. I love it, I absolutely love it. I have this fantastic gaudy, huge wedding ring that has this enormous rock on it and then this dainty little watch that’s so at odds with the ring and in the dress… I feel like a disco ball it’s got feathers and it glitters and it’s really fabulous and really highlights her need for attention and that she must look the part of a rich lawyer in NYC.
BH: You devote hours and hours every day to the theater. What about acting makes this commitment worthwhile to you?
I think it’s just the camaraderie that forms in the cast that I absolutely love, especially with such a small cast like this, we end up getting so close knit and get to know each other so well. We spend so much time together and work on our characters together so it really is a family in the cast. I love the fact that we have that kind of connection.
Also, I may have gotten a terrible grade on a French test but I can just stand on the stage and I’m a completely different person. I don’t have to think about that [grade] right now. There are more important things to think about and I can push everything else out of the way. That’s really really nice, to have that kind of escape.
BH: If you got stuck in an elevator with your character, how do you think you would interact with her?
I’m guessing I probably wouldn’t like her. That’s just my knee-jerk reaction. She would probably be panicking but if she knew that there was help coming she would definitely be trying to calm herself down… I would probably be trying to calm her down too but she would be the type of person to think she was above that, like, “I don’t need you to calm me down. I don’t need that.” That would be an interesting experience [laughs] and really bizarre.
BH: At All-School Assembly, you said that all the characters are “terrible people.” Are there any you could see yourself being friends with?
If I were to be friends with any of them, it would probably be Cookie, she’s the cooking show host who wears her grandmother’s dress to this party and is just absolutely crazy but at the same time she cares a lot less about what people think about her and more about what’s practical. She carries this giant sausage cushion to the party because she has this chronic back-spasm. She’s wonderfully insane.
BH: How is this show different from other plays you’ve done in the past?
This play is very different because it’s more modern, and last year, working on Eurydice, it didn’t have a set time period. You could see it being, ‘30s, ‘40s, ‘50s, but this one being set in 1989 is definitely closer to home, and it’s still far enough away that you can step back from it, and while my parents are reluctant to admit that it is a period piece, it is, and it’s nice to have something like that which is close to our own time period and it’s interesting to be acting as someone so close to where we are now.
BH: What would you say to people thinking about giving the show a try?
They should walk in expecting to laugh, because it is very very funny, but you cannot be sophisticated and watch this show. I mean, it is Theatre, but it’s not theater up on a high horse and its fun so I would definitely think of that kind of feeling and they’re definitely going to walk away amused. This is a show you’re going to be able to quote a long time after you see it… it’s a statement on society but it’s not a hoity-toity statement on society. It’s making fun of people.
Rumors, directed by Emily B. Ditkovski, runs October 18-20, 2012 at 7:30 pm; October 25, 27 2012, 7:30 pm; and October 26, 2012, 8:00 pm. To reserve tickets, click here.