On Monday, December 1, we had our Meet & Greet for Lifeline’s next Mainstage production, Mariette in Ecstasy, adapted from Ron Hansen’s novel by ensemble member Christina Calvit (A Room With a View, Jane Eyre, Far From the Madding Crowd) and directed by ensemble member Elise Kauzlaric, whom you’ve seen on our stage many times and who’s been behind the scenes as a KidSeries adaptor/director and as a dialect coach multiple times as well. For me, it was just four days shy of a year since the beginning of my last rehearsal process as an actor in a production, which was Talking It Over.
I was immediately excited by the design presentations. Alan Donahue is doing the set (he’s done all my favorite Lifeline sets – including The Mark of Zorro, Johnny Tremain, and Around the World in 80 Days), so of course there’s pieces that spin, flip, pivot, etc., and our sound designer Tim Hill told us about how he intends to give our small, 99-seat theatre the “auditory illusion” of a cavernous space – for those who haven’t read Ron Hansen’s novel, Mariette in Ecstasy takes place in a convent very early in the twentieth century. I don’t want to give away too much because it’s going to be so cool. Besides, I feel unqualified to comment on the design side of things at this point.
I am playing Sister Aimee, the infirmarian of the convent. I am always drawn to Christina’s scripts. They are always deceptively simple on the surface, with a lot of emotional depth underneath. She always mines so much from the novels she adapts, without ever getting bogged down in plot and exposition. I was drawn to this role in particular because of how much seems to be going on beneath the dialogue, and I have been excited about the prospect of getting into the character and digging around to see what I can unearth. I walked into the read-through last night feeling connected to the character while knowing just how much further I can explore in rehearsal, how limitless the possibilities are on Day One – like, I know I don’t get everything yet, but I can’t wait to dig in and see what comes up. And while we were reading, the potential in the room seemed to crystallize. I can’t wait to see the choices everyone makes. I can’t wait to see how everyone’s choices interact with everyone else’s choices. I can’t wait to work with the people I’ve already worked with again and I can’t wait to work with those I’ve never met before. So, I guess, to sum up: I can’t wait!