This is the beauty of independent theatre. It is vibrant and alive and on the edge.
Red One Theatre Collective cordially invites you to George and Martha’s home for an intimate evening of soul wrenching mayhem. Cocktails will have been served throughout the day, including perhaps some rubbing alcohol. Follow them into the wee hours of the following morning as you witness the alcoholic fuelled demise of a damaged marriage. Disappointment and disillusionment will be served as appetizers. Edward Albee’s iconic play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf breaks down the doors of the Storefront Theatre, whose curtains rise at 7 pm. Get ready for a wild ride, baby!
Veteran actors, Janet-Laine Green and Booth Savage, real life wife and husband play the well know characters. Son, Tyrone, directs. A true family affair. Benjamin Blais and Claire Armstrong round out the four hander, as Nick and Honey.
Tyrone Savage talked about directing this massive piece, “I’m working with two of my very close friends and my parents, so we all have such intimate relations. In terms of watching my parents act, I’m really so bowled over by how good they are. I didn’t realize how really REALLY talented they are. Watching them here has been touching. And to see what my parents do best… I think, Wow! I’ve got a lot to learn.”
Tyrone is also an actor. “I think it would be interesting to act with them. To do, say, Death Of A Salesman.” Booth pipes in, “No! No!” Booth continues, “It’s a really big chew and all the odds are stacked against you, doing a big play like this.”
The Red One Collective Theatre actors had a very short rehearsal period, for the three hour show. “So throwing in the familial dimension and the friend dimension and all of the other things, it’s a miracle we’ve gotten this far without coming to blows. As to whether we get to where we’d like to be, that’s to be determined.”
The word amongst their peers is that indeed, they have amidst a tough crowd, with high expectations. The curtain went up on December 10th, and the first week has been marked with great reviews amongst the actor set and the critics.
“That’s always been the rule in our household; you say you’re going to put on a show, you put on a show. And we’re going to do it, come hell or high water,” says director Tyrone, who feels the greatest challenges have been character choice. His father cuts in, “I’m going to challenge you.”
There is no lack of passion amongst this family of thespians. Mother Janet-Laine sits, blue eyes locked intently on the conversation between the two men. “I’ve been doing this a really long time. I’m not a sit in the back kind of guy. I’m full of opinions and that’s been a challenge for us, for me, when I do offer my opinion on something that’s not really my business.” Tyrone slides in, “But you do anyway.”
Booth continues, “We’re working for ourselves. So we are all doing this. We are all contributing our money, our time and our energies. So I feel I have the right to say more than under other circumstances. It’s been a challenge to negotiate that highway.” This is the beauty of independent theatre. It is vibrant and alive and on the edge. It’s exciting to watch the exchange between the family.
Tyrone leans in, “I think being their son makes it more emotional. Everyone pitches in and I’m not interested in railroading my ideas solely on the stage. But when you’re dealing with your folks, there’s that undercurrent. It’s kind of cool. It makes for a more lively experience.”
For Janet-Laine, the challenge lies in the inherent qualities of Martha. “I’m not an alcoholic. I’m not an abrasive person. I’m a sort of get along kind of person. Martha is not an individual who needs to get along with people, she just sort of shoves her tits in your face. I’m loving it! It’s a big challenge. I’m not pulling away from it, but it’s also scary. It’s a huge piece of theatre, but it also goes to the depth of your soul. So you have to have time and commitment to take this on.”
The 1962 play made it’s debut on Broadway at the Billy Rose Theater, consequently winning both the Tony and the New York Critics’ Circle Award in 1963. Dealing with the ideologies and the close of the 1950’s, the play explores the assumption of the perfect family, marriage and middle age loss of hope.
“If you’re a Canadian actor, or probably a Canadian artist of any kind, except for a very few, a very select top of the pyramid, the rest of us spend a life of increasing disappointment. And I think this is what this play largely centres on. I don’t think anybody gets to the place they thought they were going to get when they were young,” says Booth.
Janet-Laine weighs in, “The play also discusses and compels you to jump into what is marriage and what is your commitment to the other person you are hacking your way through the forest of life. Again, there are compromises, disappointment; when do you leave, when do you give up or when do you stay in for the long haul?”
This begs the question, do George and Martha stay together after the fallout? Janet-Laine replies, “That is to be determined every night. It’s an open exploration. The audience will have their own experience. And each person in the audience will have a different interpretation of what happens the next morning. Do they stay together or do they just become totally incapable of functioning in society?” You will have to be the judge of that.