QTC Finishes Its 2016-107 Season With Horton Foote’s NIGHT SEASONS

The play is framed by the occasion of Josie’s 93rd birthday, on which the elderly woman, who has outlived her husband and daughter, begins to realize that her longevity may be her punishment.

“Night Seasons is an examination of the quietly destructive effects of a life defined by bank balances.  (Daughter) Laura Lee is shown as an unwilling but passive prisoner of this sensibility, who watched as her mother, father and ambitious brother sabotaged her chances for independence. Suitors were dismissed as financially undesirable and, in her 30s, she was still living with her parents in rented hotel rooms and, later, an apartment, while pining for a home of her own.” Ben Brantley, The New York Times

Directed by Jack Sbarbori. Jane Squier Bruns and Carolyn Kashner lead a cast comprising  Quotidian Theatre Company (QTC) favorites–John Decker, David Dubov, and Laura Russell–as well as a number of talented newcomers.

Josie Weems, matriarch of the family
Jane Squier Bruns

Lewis Weems, Josie’s husband
John Decker

Thurman Weems, Josie’s oldest son
David Dubov

Laura Lee Weems, Josie’s daughter
Carolyn Kashner

Skeeter Weems, Josie’s youngest son
Bill Brekke

Dolly, Josie’s niece, Rosas first cousin, Mercer’s wife
Elizabeth Darby

Delia, Thurman’s wife
Laura Russell

Rosa, Josie’s niece, Dolly’s first cousin
Jennifer Osborn

Doris, a practical nurse for Josie
Debbie Minter Jackson

Mercer Hadley, Dolly’s husband
Grant Cloyd

Mr. Barsoty, Laura Lee’s beau
Sean Coe

QTC Exclusive Interview with John Patrick Shanley, Author of DOUBT: A PARABLE

DUBOV: I’m joined today by John Patrick Shanley, the author – playwright – of DOUBT: A PARABLE, and we’re going to speak to him about his thoughts on the play and our production of it coming up in April, in Bethesda, Maryland.

You call it DOUBT: A PARABLE. How does the metaphorical structure of parable, which you used – how do that work in the play itself?

SHANLEY: I guess, when I was a kid, I grew up in the Bronx, and I was a little Irish Catholic. On Sunday we would go to church; a priest would give a sermon, which was based around stories from the Bible, and then what the priest made of that story. And I always loved the stories, and then when the priest said what it meant, I wanted to get up and go down front and say, “I don’t think that’s what it means.” And that very basic objection, or desire to put my two cents’ in – is kind of the drive that led me to become a playwright in the first place. And so what interests me is to tell a story and leave it to the audience to say, “Well, this is what it means to me.”

DUBOV: Was there any particular parable that you were thinking of as you were writing?

SHANLEY: Actually, there’re a lot of parables that hold particular validity for me, but I wouldn’t moor the play to any one of them, because I do like the idea of the audience getting to say what they think it’s about, for themselves.

DUBOV: And along those lines, when you were writing, you – I think, in another interview [by Michael Riedel for] Theater Talk with the original Broadway cast – you talked about your thoughts when you were writing, about how deeply alienating the culture of debate was at the time and how people tended to either embrace or fight change, based on kind of a change going on in the Catholic Church, and Vatican II, and those kinds of issues surrounding the Church in the 1960’s. Does that hold any relevance today?

SHANLEY: Well, sure. You know, on the political landscape, or on any other landscape in which people talk about anything, discuss any idea, there is a tremendous amount of the “will to power,” and people aren’t just trying to win. There’s a kind of conversation that we’ve all been in, where we’re arguing with somebody, and we want to prevail in the argument, and the person that we’re talking to wants to prevail in the argument, and in our perhaps excessive desire to win the argument, we go further than we feel true conviction about, and we find ourself on increasingly thin ice, or maybe even standing on air, like [Wiley] Coyote and the Road Runner. At that point, all we’re trying to do is win, and we’ve lost the ability to listen to the other person, to be affected by them, to be swayed, or just informed. And that lack of humanity in conversation, in debate – in politics, in religion, in anything – leads to airlessness, and loneliness, and I’m against it.

DUBOV: And when you say “airlessness,” what do you mean by that?

SHANLEY: There’s nothing going on, truly, between you and the other person; You’re just pushing and pulling.

DUBOV: So it becomes kind of a power struggle.

SHANLEY: It’s about power. It’s not about ideas. It’s certainly not about the best idea in the room, and it’s a lesser thing than what we as human beings are capable of.

DUBOV: And do you see the characters of Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn… how do they move into that?

SHANLEY: Certainly, in the play, there is vigorous debate, toward theater at various points in the play, of different people with points of view, trying to sway or overrun other people with their point of view. And one of the things that I was able to do in this play, which perhaps I haven’t done that often, and I should do more, is … I’m not in the play. You know, I’ve written a lot of plays where I’m one of the characters, and in this play certainly I’m all of the characters; I’m also just none of them, which gives it a kind of freedom for me as an artist and for the audience as participants, to go wherever in the play they want to go. If I exist in the play, I exist in that space between all of the characters, and the play itself is my description of what it’s like for me to experience being alive.

DUBOV: So you say you are not any of the characters. How did you then relate to … well, I guess, you’re all of the characters, or none of the characters …?

SHANLEY: You know, I’m kind of like the mob – you know, like, in Shakespeare, there’s the mob, and they start off, you know, they kill the king, and the guy makes a great speech, and they’re like, “Become king!” And – I don’t know how many people are willing to admit this, but I’m basically that way. If I’m listening to a bunch of compelling people talk about what they believe, and they hold different points of view, the longer they talk, the more I come around to their point of view. And then, when the next person talks, and expresses well another point of view, I start to find myself agreeing with them. And, you know, the question comes, “How can you agree with oppositional forces with ideas?” And actually, I can. And that’s one of the reasons I’m a playwright.

DUBOV: That makes a lot of sense. In one of the other questions one of our cast members talked about was, I believe, it was in another interview you did, with the American Theater, with Conor McPherson, and we did his The Night Alive, just this last fall …

SHANLEY: …terrific play…

DUBOV: It was a wonderful play. I was able to play Doc, which wa… it was a great honor to do that. And you talked about that a play was very much a product of the time in which it was written, and couldn’t be rewritten the same in another time …

SHANLEY: …that’s true…

DUBOV: …do you still feel that way?

SHANLEY: I certainly do. Any of the plays I’ve written, any other time but the time when I wrote them … and, in the case of Doubt, I wrote it in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, where they said there were weapons of mass destruction, and then we went in and there weren’t any; and during all of the ….I was listening very carefully to the news, and reading all of the newspapers, and I was looking for that piece of information that would confirm for me that there were weapons of mass destruction, and I couldn’t find it. And so I realized, when I was watching all of these talk shows, with people arguing really confidently about why we had to invade, I’m like, oh, this is just an act of faith. These people are actually offering …. just saying, “Believe me. Just believe me.” As we know now, there were no weapons of mass destruction. And Saddam Hussein was, in fact, writing a novel.

DUBOV: And we have someone in the White House today who says, “Believe me” a lot.

SHANLEY: An awful lot. But there’s a sort of hollow conviction that can feel very solid coming out of the mouths of many politicians, and it’s up to sagacious and mature people to be able to see through that, and not embrace humbug. You want to have the nuts and bolts of reason holding together the arguments and ideas of the people that we vote for.

DUBOV: And do you see – and this may be a bit of a stretch – but Father Flynn having that same kind of … “Just believe me, trust me, I’m a priest. I hold the power in the Church in this setup.”

SHANLEY: All of the characters are basically asking you to believe them, each in their own way. What if Mrs. Muller is actually lying about what’s going on at home? We don’t know. That certainly would change everything, wouldn’t it? And that’s true of all four characters. All four of them have a secret. There’s no question about that in my mind.


Tickets for DOUBT: A PARABLE, which opens April 7, 2017, are available at http://qtcdoubt.bpt.me.

NIGHT SEASONS by Horton Foote – July 14 – August 13, 2017

Night Seasons

The play is framed by the occasion of Josie’s 93rd birthday, on which the old woman, who has outlived her husband and daughter, begins to realize that her longevity may be her punishment…

Night Seasons is an examination of the quietly destructive effects of a life defined by bank balances.  (Daughter) Laura Lee is shown as an unwilling but passive prisoner of this sensibility, who watched as her mother, father and ambitious brother sabotaged her chances for independence. Suitors were dismissed as financially undesirable and, in her 30’s, she was still living with her parents in rented hotel rooms and, later, an apartment, while pining for a home of her own.

–Ben Brantley, The New York Times

Featuring many Quotidian favorites and directed by Jack Sbarbori. Stay tuned for more details! [NOTE: Night Seasons replaces our previously advertised Foote show, The Habitation of Dragons.]

Night Seasons is made possible in part due to a generous donation from The Phase Foundation and Joan Hekimian.

Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley

Praying hands. Free space for a text. Front view

April 7- May 7, 2017

Tickets available now!

This suspenseful, thought-provoking drama received both the Pulitzer Prize and Broadway’s Tony Award. Set in the Bronx in 1964, the play pits Catholic school principal Sister Aloysius against the new, charismatic priest, Father Flynn, when his relationship with the school’s first African American student is perceived to be suspicious. Compelled by her moral certitude, Sister Aloysius sets off on a personal crusade to unearth the truth.

Directed by Stevie Zimmerman.

Featuring Kecia Campbell, Elliott Kashner, Chelsea Mayo and Stephanie Mumford.

The Actors of THE NIGHT ALIVE Talk About Their Roles: David Dubov Tackles Doc

039_david-dubov-color-webQTC board member/actor David Dubov has been very busy at QTC this season. Besides leading QTC’s PR/marketing team, David has played major roles in QTC’s A Lesson from Aloes, The Lady with the Little Dog, and now as “Doc” in The Night Alive. And yet, David still had time to respond to a few questions posed to him by QTC Co-founder Stephanie Mumford regarding his work on the role of Doc.

What do you think of the character of Doc and his role in “The Night Alive”?

“Doc is complex, despite his simple exterior. He is supposed to exist in a brain state “five to seven seconds” behind everyone else, but his mind is far beyond the time lapse he experiences in the life of the play. Each character has his or her profound moments, but Doc’s musings take in a much wider scope than you would expect of a low-life moocher stuck in the grit of Dublin. McPherson has created this person who might be based on real life guys he’s known, but his brilliant writing has taken the whole cloth of Doc and crafted a wonder – funny, interesting, and full of a deep appreciation of life despite its sometimes desperate circumstances.”

How does your role in “The Night Alive” compare to the one you played in McPherson’s “The Seafarer”?

“I played Nicky Giblin in QTC’s The Seafarer a few years ago, and Doc shares some characteristics with Nicky. They are both good men caught in situations beyond their control and beyond their mental capacity to understand what is happening to them. Nicky may be more straightforward in his narrative through-line during the play, but Doc is a deeper person. I’ve had fun with both, of course, but Doc makes me the happiest.”

Was there a certain aspect of Doc’s nature with which you connected or that fascinated you? Was there a key physical characteristic that helped you in developing his character?

“Despite the complexities and simplicities of Doc, his shining humanity and understated good-heartedness are what I latched on to, to create him on stage. His speech pattern is distinctive, too, giving me a handhold on which to hang the layers of the character, and that gives him a depth a more straightforward portrayal by a playwright less skilled than McPherson would have neglected. The coke-bottle-bottom glasses are a great touch, too!

“It’s such a pleasure playing this man with all of his frailties and strengths. A real challenge!”

THE NIGHT ALIVE Opens Friday! 5 Reasons to See It

13221722_1148066648547609_1983080169193235724_n1) QTC is “the best stage to experience McPherson’s plays in the Washington, D.C. area”

2) Director Jack Sbarbori’s ninth McPherson production with designers Don Slater and Ed Moser

3) An all-star cast, featuring QTC favorites and fresh faces

4) A supernatural drama just in time for Halloween

5) $15 tickets every Friday for patrons 30 & under

GET YOUR TICKETS TODAY: http://nightalive.bpt.me

Quotidian Theatre Company Opens Its Dynamic 2016-17 Season With Conor McPherson’s THE NIGHT ALIVE

13221722_1148066648547609_1983080169193235724_nQuotidian Theatre Company opens its amazing 2017 season with the haunting and darkly funny THE NIGHT ALIVE, by Conor McPherson.

The often dark, at times violent, drama about the relationship among five highly imperfect people is also infused with black comedy as these sad souls fumble in the darkness toward the light. The piece is set in a run-down house in Dublin which is now inhabited by Tommy, a fifty-something layabout. He does odd jobs with his friend, Doc, and has a tense relationship with his Uncle Maurice, who owns the house. These men on the margin of society live day to day, barely surviving in the junk and squalor of the bedsit.

One night, Tommy brings home Aimee, who has been beaten by her boyfriend, Kenneth, and everyone’s lives are changed forever.

“With its focus on these very flawed people, you would think this piece would be very bleak,” says Jack Sbarbori, Quotidian’s Artistic Director, and the play’s director. “But, in reality, it is a portrait of ordinary personalities, placed in extraordinary and dangerous circumstances. MacPherson’s genius lies in taking this situation, and finding the humor and warmth in it.”

Quotidian has a long history of producing McPherson’s work, including the United States premiere of THE VEIL. Join us on 6 November for a post-performance talk-back with director Jack Sbarbori and his cast, moderated by McPherson expert/author Professor Gerald Wood.

THE NIGHT ALIVE opens on October 21, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and runs through November 20.

Tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets (http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2592907) or by calling the Quotidian Theatre Company box office at 301-816-1023.