Review Fix chats with actress Sophie Gagnon who discusses her performance in Rebecca Gilman’s upcoming production of “The Glory of Living.”
About the Production:
Rising Sun Performance Company in association with Planet Connections Theatre Festivity
The Glory of Living
“You don’t know what normal is”
by Rebecca Gilman
Directed By Akia
Assistant Director Anna Hogan
Assistant Producer: Ronald Kitts
at the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity
June 12th thru July 9th 2017
Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center
The Glory of Living tells the story of Lisa, a 15-year-old girl, and her marriage to Clint, an ex-con twice her age. Systematically abused by her husband, Lisa is coerced into helping him commit crimes of varying magnitude. An exploration of the human condition in our society today. The play poses the question of what can happen when we discard our undesirables and what their alternate outcomes could be.
Featuring: Sophie Gagnon, John Hart, William Serri, Eric Parness, Nora Kaye, Julia Geromin, Kate Lynn Esswein, Hayden Field, Elizabeth Burke, Michael Pierce, Michael Pichardo & Desiree Pinol
Creative & Production Team: Jak Prince, Chrstina Tang, Ian Wehrle, Maggie Kissinger, Monica Blaze Leavitt, Emily Hart, Allison Crutchfield, Ben Lefkowitz, Ceila Castro, Elizabeth Rose Wilkins, Jane Bertelsen, and Miranda Cueller
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Sophie Gagnon: Getting off-book as quickly as possible is so important in my mind. One can only begin to scratch the surface of a character before one knows all their thoughts and words by heart. It can be such a hindrance on exploring the character in depth when you as an actor are trying to think of the next line, so I read and re-read a scene five or so times – asking myself new questions each time – then exploring comes from an informed place and the work can really begin.
Review Fix: What makes this different or special?
Gagnon: The Glory of Living represents human behavior which, unfortunately, is still very prevalent 15 years after the play was written. It’s a very real character study of the profundity of what years of sexual, physical and mental abuse in a marriage can do to the victim. Denial, apathy, blindness, and finally a fatalistic view of their situation. The hardest thing to swallow for an audience member will not be watching the physical and sexual abuse, rather Lisa’s sincere feeling that she had no other choice in life.
Review Fix: What did you learn about yourself through this process?
Gagnon: I learned that empathy and sensitivity are key in portraying a victim of abuse, in terms of making this “subject matter watchable for an audience – and then there is also an element of unawareness and naivety that is necessary in order to be authentic.
Review Fix: How does it feel to be a part of something like this?
Gagnon: It feels very important to be a part of this production, specifically now, in the reality of our present. Calling attention to the way abusers are prosecuted and ultimately sentenced in our society. Too often do we hear about some college student getting out of jail after six months after sexually assault another vulnerable victim.
Review Fix: What are your ultimate goals for this production and for the future?
Gagnon: I hope that this production makes the audience ask themselves whether enough is being done to bring justice to these despicable people and what they themselves can do to help combat this harsh reality.
Review Fix: What do you think your audiences will enjoy the most?
Gagnon: Well, I hope that in spite of the awful things Lisa does in this play as a result of her fear and denial,
that the audience is able to sympathize with her and begin to see the complexity of the mind of an abuse victim.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Gagnon: I hope to continue working with Rising Sun Performance Company on its workshop production of Henry’s Wives as part of our Artist Residency on Governor’s Island.