See I made a Starland Vocal Band joke out of Shirley's last name. And who says puns aren't funny?
Anywho, here are the answers that Shirley gave to DC Theatre Scene for their feature on Helen Hayes Nominees. For further reading visit them HERE.
I read something somewhere that Shirley was concerned about sending them a picture. I personally think that Shirley couldn't take a bad picture if she tried. But I'm just the Moon what do I know?
Shirley Serotsky, Outstanding Director
References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, Rorschach Theatre
Why this play?
I have wanted to work with Rorschach since I saw their production of LORD OF THE FLIES in 2002. I dig the gutsy, visceral work they do and Casa Del Pueblo is an exciting, provocative, challenging space to work in (may it rest in peace). Then I read the play. And it was stunning and beautiful and difficult and heart breaking. And daunting in the way that it combined a completely theatrical world with talking cats and dancing moons with the gritty, realistic, kitchen sink drama of two people who are totally in love but failing miserably at making that love work–trying desperately to come together and love each other again. And I thought it would be really hard to meld those two worlds without discounting either one of them. And the more I do this, the more I realize that the greater the challenge the greater the pay-off.
Most difficult scene
The quick answer is the sex scene, because it was the first time I’d directed an all out sex scene, and those are just tough–both technically and emotionally. Because it is such a personal thing and there you are putting it on stage. And the audience is two feet from Gabi and Andrew’s heads, and it might be your grandmother sitting in that seat. And where does Gabi throw her shirt so that she can find it later? And what happens when the wooden fence/bed creaks? And will they get splinters? And why does the damn sheet keep coming off the corners? As it turned out however, I think the two Benito/Gabriella scenes were simultaneously the hardest and the easiest to “get”. Because we can all connect with the relationship struggles that these people are going through, on some level we get that. We KNOW that. But because of that, it’s just not a fun place to go to for hours on end, night after night. And it was a challenge to find the shifts in the landscape of their argument, the rises and falls, the flare-ups and the moments of breath, so that it didn’t sound like one long rant.
I think the most surprising thing happened during auditions, and that was finding Gabriella in the first place. I’d had artistic directors of several theaters in the area say, “We thought about doing that play but were not sure we could ever cast it”. And here’s Rorschach, a small theater using all non-Equity actors, trying to do the play justice. And that meant finding actors for several of the roles that were, indeed, Latino. I knew Andrew was of Columbian descent and have admired his work for years, but I did not know if we would find an actress with the chops and background and spirit to play the role of Gabi, not to mention the fact that everyone in the play has to totally fall in love with her. And there was a somewhat exhaustive search. And then like, three people emailed me Gabriella’s info. And she came in and she tells us she’s of Puerto Rican decent, born there and raised here, and she’d lived in New York, and she’s gorgeous, and then she read the side and left the room and I think Randy and Jenny and I looked at each other and said, “We can’t let her leave the building. If we have to kidnap her and keep her here in Casa for eight weeks we will do that, but we have to have her in this play.”
Ahhhhh. Hard question. I can’t pin it to just one. I loved the Moon’s tuneful serenading and melancholic speeches from up above. I loved the eerie moon-glow light when he landed on the ground (thanks Andrew and Connor). I loved the perfect tango music (thanks Matt!). I loved the look in Martin’s eyes when he was peeking over the fence. I loved the Moon/Martin fight with the belly check (thanks Grady). I loved Cat coming back from her torrid night out all rumpled and wheezy and then climbing into the cupboard. I loved many moments that Robbie Haye’s brilliant set made possible. I loved Coyote’s tight, tight jeans (thanks Pei) and his passionate howls and heart-broken ghost. And, okay, look, it got to a point where watching Benito and Gabi interact was so laden with charged moments that now, reading back over the script, I can’t pin just one. Seriously, I loved watching those two. Can you tell? I loved this cast, I loved my design team (and I have to thank Tim Getman for putting that together). And I have to also say, I couldn’t have done this show without guidance and wisdom from Jacqueline Lawton’s dramaturgical input and overall smarts and clear-headedness.
If you could work with anyone in the theatre, living or dead, who would it be and why?
This is also tough. It’s like that dinner party question–where you have to think, certain people made really awesome contributions to history and to the world–but would they be good conversationalists? Likewise here. Just because someone’s brilliant doesn’t mean they’d be fun to work with. But I had an a-ha moment while up in NY earlier this week.
I’d like to work with my twin brother, who is an actor. Because he’s smart and talented and we shared a womb. I mean, with the short hand (secret twin lingo, right?) we have I think it would at the very least save time. And that would definitely make it into my parent’s holiday newsletter. I mean, I hope. Mom?
CRUMBLE (LAY ME DOWN JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE) by Sheila Callaghan with Catalyst Theater Company, running May 7-June 7. And yes, JT does make an appearance. Several, in fact.