“The Edge of Our Bodies,” written by Adam Rapp, takes over Washington Ensemble Theater’s stage on March 28. The one-person show about a pregnant teen, Bernadette, played by Samie Spring Detzer, dives into young adulthood and “the challenging pull between the need to connect to others and the desire to disappear.” Director, Devin Bannon, gave The Capitol Hill Times some background on the play and how it came together.
Tell me about the script; why was it chosen?
We found this script through a friend director who suggested it to us because she’d seen it at the Humana Festival, and thought that it might be a good piece for Samie Detzer, the actor who’s playing Bernadette, the lead role.
We read it and we thought, “Okay, this is a brilliant, beautiful script; it’s really different from anything that we’ve done, though. Can we do this? Are we the right people to do this?”
We haven’t done a one-woman show since… Season 5; it’s out first Adam Rapp piece, and it’s a regional premier; it’s also my first solo show as a director, and Samie’s first solo show as a performer.
Isn’t it backwards to have the actor before you have the script?
Yes and no. When we go through our normal pitching of a season, some people will attach themselves to an idea for a project.
Sometimes we vote in scripts because we just think that they’re brilliant, having not thought too much about the who it would be perfect for or who would direct it. But this was on the other end of the spectrum.
What has production been like?
I had this hesitation that because it’s a one-person show the company might feel like it’s a smaller production and therefore that it needs less attention. And the more that I dove into it, I realized that this is a huge production; it needs as much attention as anything else if not more.
Samie and I started meeting a year ago, having readings and brainstorming, getting into it. And it kept unpeeling more and more layers, getting deeper and deeper. There are scripts out there that you read once or twice and you feel like you’ve gotten it all. And they can make fine performances to watch, but after you’ve read it you don’t necessarily need to read it again. But this script, every time we read it, on a monthly basis, we were seeing new things, and that continues to happen.
I saw “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo,” which was dark, and “The Icelandic Illumination Rangers,” which was fun. What’s the mood of this performance?
I’d say that it’s a dark, contemplative show. It’s a show that operates within the mind, a lot. It’s, at times, a brooding show. It’s, at times, a beautiful show. It’s about some pretty heavy subject matters concerning abortion and maybe psychosis. It’s also about growing up, and it’s humorous. I’d just say that it’s captivating.
You’re diving into the brain of a young woman who is way too brilliant to be 16. She’s vulnerable, and she’s a writer, and she’s the most interesting person who I’ve ever met. I feel like getting to know her has been a falling-in-love process.
And Samie makes a good Bernadette?
I can’t imagine anyone else doing it.
What else should people know besides that they should go see the show?
The vulnerability and the performance quality that we’re aiming for is unlike the more theatrical productions that we’ve done. This is going to be very intimate. The audience will be very engaged and enveloped by the show. It’s going to leave them with something that they’re not going to be able to cast aside immediately after the show; it’s going to stick with them.
THE CAST AND DESIGN TEAM for The Edge Of Our Bodies
(*Denotes member of Washington Ensemble Theatre)
Samie Spring Detzer* — Bernadette
Adam Rapp — Playwright
Devin Bannon* — Director
Nicole Song — Stage Manager
Jessie Underhill — Assistant Director
Jenny Littlefield — Scenic & Props Designer
Tristan Roberson — Lighting Designer
Kathleen Hegarty — Costume Designer
James Schreck* — Sound Designer
Zac Eckstein — Technical Director
ARTIST BIOGRAPHIES :
Adam Rapp (Playwright) is a novelist and playwright best known for his work on Winter Passing, Blackbird, and Red Light Winter. Rapp is a graduate of Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa and also completed a two-year fellowship at Juilliard. His play Red Light Winter was awarded the 2005 Joseph Jefferson Award for New Work at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago and was nominated for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. His plays often combine stories of Midwestern longing with the idea of finding escape in New York.
Devin Bannon* (Director) is a local director, performer, and Co-Artistic Director of the Washington Ensemble Theatre. Recent directorial credits include The Castle and Madeline’s Dream (Fathom Performance Collective), and The Vaults (One Coast Collaboration). Devin earned his BA in Theatre at Hampshire College and studied physical theatre at l’Accademia dell’Arte in Italy and has worked in a variety of roles with many other companies in Seattle, including Café Nordo, Degenerate Art Ensemble, Theatre, Intiman Theatre, The Satori Group, and Teatro Zinzanni.
Samie Spring Detzer* (Bernadette) is a graduate of Cornish College of the Arts and a Co-Artistic Director of Washington Ensemble Theatre. Samie was most recently seen in Tall Skinny Cruel Cruel Boys, The Fairy Tale Lives of Russian Girls, These Streets and in Wayne Rawley’s award winning Live! From the Last Night of My Life. She has worked at A Contemporary Theater, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Book-It, Theater Schmeater, Taproot, The Solo Performance Festival, the Chicago Improv Festival, and 14/48. Next up, Samie will be seen in The Hunchback of Seville at Washington Ensemble Theatre in March 2014.
Nicole Song (Stage Manager) is thrilled to be stage managing at Washington Ensemble Theatre for the very first time. She is currently finishing up her last year of undergrad at Seattle Pacific University. Nicole’s most recent stage management credits include Letters Aloud: With or Without You, The Miracle Worker, and Hunting Dinosaurs.
Jessie Underhill (Assistant Director) graduated from Cornish College of the Arts in 2010 with a BFA in Original Works. Since graduating, she has worn many hats as a theater artist. She is happy to return to WET as an assistant director where she was previously seen on stage in Bed Snake.
Jenny Littlefield (Scenic & Props Designer) attended Bellevue College for Theatre Design and University of Washington for Interdisciplinary Visual Arts. She recently completed a scenic design internship with the Intiman Theatre’s Summer Festival. Favorite design credits include Aladdin Jr. at Village Theatre, Very Still… at Bellevue College, and The Little Dog Laughed at ArtsWest. Thank you to the wonderful production team, friends, and family for their support.
Tristan Roberson (Lighting Designer) is a theatrical designer based in Seattle and is thrilled to be designing at Washington Ensemble Theatre! Past designs across Seattle include Third, The Little Dog Laughed, Ajax in Iraq, Bat Boy: The Musical, Failure – A Love Story, 5th of July, Shirley Valentine, Oo-Bla-Dee, Cloud 9, and Urinetown.
Katie Hegarty (Costume Designer) is excited to be designing again at Washington Ensemble Theatre where she designed The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls, Stuck, The Callers and Babs the Dodo. Other designs include Ching Chong Chinaman at SIS Productions and Big Love and La Finta Giardineria at the University of Washington. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from Western Washington University and an MFA in Costume Design from the University of Washington.
James Schreck* (Sound Designer) is the Resident Sound Designer at Washington Ensemble Theatre. His work has most recently been heard in the Ensemble productions of Smudge, The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls, and Bed Snake. James is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Drama.
Zac Eckstein (Technical Director) is a technical director, web designer, and marketing guru. After graduating from Cornish College of the Arts in 2007, he started a theatre company, founded an arts website (theseattlevine.com), and joined the circus (Teatro ZinZanni).