World Theatre Day has rolled around again – where did that year go?
This year I would like to acknowledge playwright Landford Wilson, who passed away March 24, 2011. His name conjures up special memories as one of his plays was my first foray onto a professional stage.
Pulitzer prize winner “Talley’s Folly” is a deliciously provocative two hander (2 person play) set in 1944 introducing Sally Talley, and Matt Friedman. Matt in pursuance of Sally tries to find ways to get to know her. They both have deep serious secrets and are cautious when it comes to opening up and trusting each other.
I was fortunate to be cast and spent a summer at the Victoria Playhouse, in Prince Edward Island, Canada doing repertory theatre. The Victoria Playhouse was, and still is, situated idyllically by the ocean in a tiny community. I was surrounded by inspirational nature and a lot of positive support for my first major professional role.
As Talley’s Folly took place at a gazebo by the river, the set was embellished with trees, branches, and bushes that I had to make my way through for my entrance. Every time the stage was re-dressed there seemed more and more trees for me to clamber through, expounding my first line, “MATT!!!” I think the stage hands were having fun challenging me each time. It helped my performance!
The dialogue was witty, deep, and intelligent, and had a rhythm that was pure pleasure to play with. It is a hopeful love story that strips the protective shells of Sally and Matt, in order to find their truthful depths.
Matt: “This guy told me we were eggs. … He said people are eggs. Said we had to be careful not to bang up against each other too hard. Crack our shells, never be any use again. Said we were eggs. Individuals. We had to keep separate, private. He was very protective of his shell. He said nobody ever knows what the other guy is thinking. We all got about ten tracks going at once, nobody ever knows what’s going down any given track at any given moment. So we never can really communicate. As I’m talking to you on track number three, over on track five I might be thinking about …. Oh any number of things. And when I think you’re listening to me, what are you really thinking??”
Sally: “And you think he’s right or you think he’s wrong?”
Looking back, I realize that I must have understood only certain elements by instinct as I was so young playing a thirty something. I would love to play Sally Talley again. (albeit.. an older one!)
Thank you, Landford Wilson, for this play, and many others you wrote. I dedicate this year’s World Theatre Day to you. R.I.P. Mr. Wilson….
Read more on Landford Wilson: The New York Times
Read the World Theatre Day Message
Read the Canadian Theatre Day Message