LOVE IN THE ARENA
My first adventure with Big Love started with a trip to the emergency room, because someone accidentally scratched my cornea during callbacks. Maybe the director just took pity on me after the accident and wanted to make a peace offering, but I was cast in the role of Nikos. And now, fourteen years later, I have the privilege of revisiting this wonderfully wild and fiercely relevant work. I thought I had a good sense of the production and the story I wanted to tell, but that was before I started looking more closely through the magnifying glass of the #MeToo Movement.
The story I wanted to tell evolved. One line kept reverberating in my mind, one spoken passionately by Thyona: “there can be no love because there can be no love that is not freely offered and it cannot be free unless every person has equal standing.” What would happen to the power dynamic if women actually had equal standing? And if women do not have equal standing, can we ever have justice?
I jumped at Chuck Mee’s invitation to “pillage the plays as I have pillaged the structures and contents of the plays of Euripides and Brecht and stuff out of ‘Soap Opera Digest’ and the evening news and the internet.” I updated references to bring us to 2018, added text from other works by Chuck, and changed almost all the music he suggested—which had been exclusively male—and found music composed, written or performed by women. This production is an equal collaboration amongst the actors, designers, and stage management team, and I couldn’t have fulfilled my vision without their incredible work.
So, welcome to our boxing ring. Chuck Mee says: “I like plays that are not too neat, too finished, too presentable. My plays are broken, jagged, filled with sharp edges, filled with things that make sudden turns, careen into each other, smash up, veer off in sickening turns, that feels good to me. It feels like my life. It feels like the world.” We hope you feel the same!
—Robert Scott Smith, Director
We will have a post-performance discussion immediately following the 7:30 p.m. performance on November 16, to talk about the impact the #MeToo movement has had on Big Love.
Big Love | November 9-18 | Babcock Theatre
Tickets available at tickets.utah.edu