Under the masterful and collaborative direction of Sammi Cannold, along with the rest of the team: the exacting musical leadership of Makulumy Alexander-Hills, the über-detailed organization of Brandon Powell's stage management, and the vocal artistry of the beautiful Allie Trimm in the lead role, in April, Violet took to the streets of Cambridge on a bus - really (see below as I await my final "entrance"). This production was part of the immersive theater trend of the last 5-6 years to which the piece is very well suited. A word of caution: you also have to have a fabulously talented production team that genuinely enjoys problem-solving - deep problem-solving, with a touch of masochism even. It took a long time between audition notice and getting the role of the Old Lady. I considered declining the opportunity, but my husband told me I was nuts not to "climb on board." He has an annoying habit of being right and I'm glad I listened.
There are many standout memories, but my top pick is the character presentations we were tasked with early in the production. An entire evening of rehearsal was dedicated to each company member's performance of a seven minute (or so) original piece in their character's voice. It democratized the cast, unified us, and built a foundation of artistic respect and collaboration. I am so grateful to have been part of it. I look forward to seeing what my fellow-company members have in the works.
I recently started work on the Rabbi's monologue from Angels in America with the great Anthony Abeson. I am embracing my "inner old" in preparation for Violet at the A.R.T. this April directed by the amazing Sammi Cannold - and I really enjoy the gender-bending thing. But I find there is always a deeper deep as to why I work on a particular monologue. Mrs. Zang comes to mind. She was a holocaust survivor that I visited as a volunteer for Jewish Children and Family Services when I first arrived in the city. She was confined to her 3rd floor apartment and had very little in the way of material things. She was always taping quarters to the Jewish appeal notices she would receive - she did what she could. My job was the mail, since she could no longer do stairs. We had a ritual: I would eat some of the Stella D'Oro cookies she put out and at some point she would ask me to deal with the mail. I always said "No problem, Mrs. Zang," and went down for drop off and pick up. This went on for several months. One day when I handed her the mail, she asked me, "I know it is no problem, but is it your pleasure?" It brought me up short. It made an impression. I haven't forgotten. Later, I realized that one of the only ways she could still contribute was to give me an opportunity to perform mitzvah for her. I think of her from time to time and hope I let her know I appreciated her. At the very least, she informs my Rabbi Chemelwitz. I hope it is a tribute that does her justice. It is my pleasure to do so.
Mary Niederkorn - Actress, Filmmaker, & Storyteller