Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Actor Harry Bouvy on the importance of listening and remembering in MOTHERS AND SONS

For the final stretch of Mothers and Sons, Harry Bouvy sits silently on stage and listens.

His character, Cal, has just engaged in more than an hour of testy conversation with Katharine, an unexpected visitor in his Manhattan apartment. They’re two people united by buried grief: Andre, Cal’s former partner and Katharine’s son, died 20 years ago from AIDS. Katharine has reappeared in Cal’s life without warning, bringing with her an icy front of barely concealed disdain. She never approved of Andre’s sexuality or the man with whom he shared the final years of his life.

They’ve talked and talked, through exchanges both poignant and quarrelsome, as they try to reconcile conflicting memories of the man they both loved. But now it’s time for Cal (and Bouvy) to sit and listen as Katharine breaks down and reveals the profound loneliness that lies at the core of her resentments.

Bouvy teaches acting for stage and screen in New York City, and he’s often stressed the importance of listening to his students. Regardless of the medium, listening places the actor squarely in the moment and connects them with their fellow performers. Listening, Bouvy says, is also one of the chief virtues that Terrence McNally’s Mothers and Sons offers to its audiences.

“It’s this idea that if people talk and people listen, people can walk over these bridges and really meet each other on their opposing sides,” Bouvy says.

This play is deeply personal for him. In 2009, Bouvy lost his partner of 14 years to AIDS. Like Cal, Bouvy later married following the legalization of gay marriage.

“There’s this line where Cal says, ‘The first time I tried to use the word ‘husband,’ nothing came out,’” Bouvy says. “And that’s very true for me. I’m thrilled every time I get to introduce my husband Sean as my husband. But it’s not without its bumps. Whether straight people realize it or not, when I introduce my husband, I am coming out. Every day, I’m sort of forced to come out by choosing whether or not to say, ‘this is my husband.’”

But more than just the parallels between the script and his life story, Bouvy knows many people who lived through the height of the AIDS epidemic. While he sees Mothers and Sons as primarily a play about family, preserving the painful history of the disease and its continued presence is elemental to the piece.

As Cal’s partner Will says in the play: “Young men are still falling in love… and some of them are still dying.”

“People tend to think we’re kind of safe from (AIDS) now, that it’s over,” Bouvy says. “My story is that it’s not. Just seven years ago I had a partner die. Trust me, it’s still alive and well.”

That being said, the play isn’t just a dour memorial or an ideological think-piece. There’s a radiant element of optimism in the script in the form of Bud, Cal and Will’s 7-year-old son. Bouvy says he’s inspired both by Bud’s character as well as Simon Desilets, the young actor who plays him.

“Without Bud in the play, I think the play would be very different,” Bouvy says. “I don’t think the play could really hold up without Bud. Because Bud’s the generation to whom none of this matters. None of this idea of two men raising a child makes a difference.”

During a recent post-show discussion, audience members asked Simon how he felt about doing a play like Mothers and Sons, which features a pair of gay men.

“You could see his wheels churning trying to come up with an answer,” Bouvy recalls “He was confused by the question.”

After a few moments, Simon answered.

“Well, I was telling some friends of mine, and one of them asked me what the play was about,” Simon said. “And I told her, ‘Well I play a boy who has two gay men as fathers.’”

“So what did she say?” Bouvy asked.

“She said, ‘That sounds like a really fun play,’” Simon replied.

Bouvy shakes his head in marvel while recalling the exchange.

“It wasn’t controversial to him or his friend that was asking about it,” Bouvy says “That was just the plot of the play.”

There’s hope out there, if we just stop to listen.

November 9, 2016 at 1:58 PM | (0) Comments | Permalink
Categories: Studio | Mothers and Sons

Monday, October 24, 2016

Review roundup: UNTIL THE FLOOD makes a profound impact

The Rep’s world premiere of Until the Flood has sparked conversations among theatre goers and critics alike.

We’re compiling all of the local critical reactions in this space, so be sure to keep checking back as the reviews continue to roll in!

Mark Bretz, Ladue News:

“(Dael) Orlandersmith’s drama is a riveting, thought-provoking production ... certain to generate conversations.”

Lynn Venhaus, Belleville News-Democrat:

“This high-voltage piece is an example of what art can do — reflect a time and affect change. It may make us squirm and tear up. But it can’t not affect us.”

Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“Subtly directed by Neel Keller, Orlandersmith delivers a fast-paced, wide-ranging series of character sketches. These characters — all composites, drawn from people Orlandersmith spoke with here as well as from her own imagination — consider Michael Brown’s death from their own points of view.”

Chris Gibson, Broadway World:

“The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’ dazzling production of UNTIL THE FLOOD is a short (around 70 minutes), but mesmerizing piece of theatre that I consider required viewing.”

Steve Allen, Stage Door St. Louis:

“‘Until The Flood’ is a heart breaking but hopeful story that should be seen by just so many people- you should be one of them.”

Richard Green, Talkin’ Broadway:

“The results are moving in unexpected ways: friendships are broken by the aftermath of the shooting; some of Ms. Orlandersmith’s characters manage to find their courage as a result; and stereotypes are smashed left and right.”

Tina Farmer, KDHX:

Until the Flood captures your attention and prods you with challenging questions delivered in the off-the-cuff style of conversation.”

Megan Washausen, PLAYBACK:stl:

“I’m not reviewing this show so much as I’m telling you to go and see it—now! If you take nothing else away from this write-up, take that!”

Ann Pollack, St. Louis Eats and Drinks:

“Worthwhile, and more challenging than it appears at first.”

Michelle Kenyon, Snoop’s Theatre Thoughts:

“Here, at the Rep, what we’ve been shown is something of a conversation starter, or more of a conversation enabler since there’s no real way to avoid these important issues, and they need to be addressed.”

Like what you read? Be sure to pick up your tickets for Until the Flood!

October 24, 2016 at 4:32 PM | Permalink
Categories: Mainstage | Until the Flood

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Watch the powerful trailer for UNTIL THE FLOOD

Eight characters. Eight voices. One city.

Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith interviewed real St. Louisans about the past two years of social unrest in our city. Their thoughts formed the basis for the eight characters of Until the Flood, who all have something to say about the past, present and future of St. Louis.

Get a look at their thoughts in this trailer for the show, in production now on The Rep’s Mainstage:

Until the Flood continues its run through November 6. Get your tickets here.

October 20, 2016 at 11:39 AM | (0) Comments | Permalink
Categories: Mainstage | Until the Flood

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