Redtwist Theatre may be small in size, but since 1994, they’ve broadcast impressive ambition, producing a cavalcade of notable shows. Now, the storefront theatre heads into fall with Arthur Miller’s Broken Glass, a gripping drama about a New York couple in Kristallnacht’s aftermath. Our Town spoke with founder and Artistic Director Michael Colucci and star Jacqueline Grandt.
Our Town Broken Glass is one of Arthur Miller’s later plays, not as frequently performed as earlier ones. Why did Redtwist chose to produce it not once but twice?
Michael Colucci Broken Glass was—and still is—a buried treasure by the master American dramatist, written in 1994 during his golden years of full wisdom at age 79. We chose to produce [the play] in 2004, our first full season in our Bryn Mawr space. At that time, we were a relatively unknown resident company and thus very few people saw Jacqueline [Grandt]'s compelling performance as Sylvia Gellburg. Since then, she has become Redtwist's leading lady and one of the finest actresses in town. And so we felt it was imperative for her to revisit the role. Now that Redtwist has a bit of a following, many more people will see her exciting interpretation of this passionate and uniquely intriguing character.
OT Jacqueline, what’s it like to revisit an old part?
Jacqueline Grandt It is truly amazing! I didn't go back and review my previous script or look at the DVD. I wanted to allow a fresh perspective and take advantage of my added experience on stage, as well as my own personal life experiences, to create a new character, one which I believe is fuller and more complete than before.
OT Obviously you’re playing a character pretty far removed from your experience. What are you doing to prepare?
JG I did a lot of research on the era itself, as well as research on hysterical paralysis, which Sylvia suffers from. I discovered that the author of a book she is reading in the play, Anthony Adverse, suffered from shell shock, which is very similar to hysterical paralysis. It certainly isn't difficult to be frightened by the horrific articles and pictures of Germany at that time.
OT How did the dramaturge serve in prepping all of the actors for the show?
JG The research on each and every part of the script is so necessary and our dramaturg, Cassandra Rose, did an excellent job. I worked with her on Bug last year and she is wonderful! Thorough, thought provoking...it truly helps in shaping any character.
OT Are there specific onstage moments you can point to over the course of your career during which you felt the way growing up you’d imagined an actor feeling?
JG Yes. I believe it's the times that I've been in a scene where you actually feel the audience holding their breath...where you can feel their eyes watching and feeling every emotion you put forth. Those are the moments that I believe all actors live for.
OT What are your feelings on Chicago’s theater scene?
JG I believe its reputation is well deserved. We produce some of the very best live theatre in the country. Redtwist is signature Chicago because it gives you the "up close and personal" theatre that you don't see very often. I'm so very proud to be part of that!
Broken Glass runs through November 18th. Purchase tickets here.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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