Quotidian Theatre Company’s production of Eugene O’Neill’s ambitious ensemble piece The Iceman Cometh runs October 25 – November 24. Genevieve James has acted at Washington Stage Guild, Adventure Theatre, The Bay Theatre Company, 1st Stage, The American Century Theater, Flying V, Molotov Theatre Group, and other regional theatres. She plays against type in QTC’s production of Iceman, and writes about what that’s like for her:
My First Prostitute
“There’s not really a part for me in this show,” I said to my husband on my way out the door to my Iceman audition, “but you know me — I audition for everything.” As a woman in her thirties, this may sound like an odd thing to say about a show with three parts for women, but I have been playing the same kind of character my entire career. In the theatre, we call this “knowing your type”, and my type? Children and animals, of both genders.
Since getting cast in The Iceman Cometh, I have found myself saying to people, “I’m really excited — it’s my first prostitute.” Playing the character Pearl has been a welcome challenge. At first, I found myself playing her dumb, which made me feel not only ashamed as a woman, but also a bit like a lazy actor. With the added Adelaide-from-Guys-and-Dolls accent I had adopted, this seemed the obvious choice. I felt that if I wasn’t playing her dumb, then I had to rely on overt sexuality. This was so out of my comfort zone; I didn’t even know how to be sexy without looking like a caricature. Working with director Michael Avolio early on, however, we discovered much more to Pearl; a hard-as-nails, take-no-prisoners attitude on the surface that covers a much more sensitive person inside, and a mother hen instinct when it comes to her partner, Margie. (It has also been fun to do this with Carolyn Kashner as Margie. Carolyn and I first met doing theatre in high school, when she was the Annie Sullivan to my Helen Keller in Bishop Ireton’s 1998 production of The Miracle Worker in Alexandria, Virginia.)
As rehearsals have gone on, I’ve enjoyed the little nuances I’ve found in each line that lend themselves to a more complex woman. My panic about “being sexy” has subsided now that I have realized that it’s not about her sexuality at all. In fact, we never see any of the “tarts” in action. Her job could be anything, really. She, like all the characters, has pipe dreams she’s not ready to face up to. No matter what you do for a living, no matter how old you are, everyone has them. I found myself relating to Pearl the more I thought about that. We all have an idea of ourselves and an image we want to project to the world. Even in writing this blog post, I had the epiphany that my own personal image of myself as an actor was being challenged. I could keep telling myself that as an actor, I am the Sally Brown, Little Red, Piglet, Mittens-the-cat girl, and fight the part I was given, because “I AM NOT SEXY. I AM NOT THAT WOMAN.” Or I could let go of my image, my “type”, and access the other parts of myself that don’t always get showcased.
And maybe next audition, I’ll be more confident, because there are many parts of me, and therefore many parts for me.
Quotidian Theatre Company presents
The Iceman Cometh
by Eugene O’Neill
Oct 25 – Nov 24, 2013
Featuring Steve Beall, Matt Boliek, Frank Britton, Danny Brooks, John Decker, Tiffany Garfinkle, Genevieve James, Carolyn Kashner, Steve LaRocque, Ken Lechter, Brian McDermott, Brandon Mitchell, Louis Pangaro, Manolo Santalla, Ted Schneider, Chris Stinson, Christian Sullivan, and Frank Vince.
Director: Michael Avolio.
Artistic Adviser: Bill Largess.
Stage Manager: Christine Alexander.
Show times are 8pm Fridays and Saturdays, and 2pm Sundays, with one additional 2pm performance on Saturday, November 23.
Tickets are $30, or $25 for seniors and students, and can be purchased by cash or check at the door, online at Brown Paper Tickets, or by phone at 1-800-838-3006 ext 1 (ask for Quotidian Theatre Company). $15 per ticket for groups of 10 or more (email for reservations). Subscribers, email QTC or call 301-816-1023 for reservations.
All performances are held at The Writer’s Center: 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD.
The venue is a short walk from the Bethesda Metro Station. There is free parking on Saturdays and Sundays.