August: Osage County – I’m … Running Things … Now!
This is the end, my beautiful friend, the end. Of our elaborate plans, the end. Of everything that stands, the end – The Doors
Three months, many missed lazy weekends, blurry eyed mornings, 120+ hours of rehearsals and one hell of a time later I find myself thinking where time has gone by at August: Osage County.
Will miss every bit of — racing down 101 to make it to NH on time every weekend, kicking off rehearsals by jostling to catch a train on Andheri platform #9 (warm ups!), painfully yelling “sa re ga ma” to get our throats prepped for hurling verbal projectiles at each other (more warm ups!), listening to recorded lines ad nauseum while driving around town, spacing out at work meetings to line-read in my head, smiling like a retard when I see catfish on a menu, cussing like a mofo, smashing plates, croaking after every scream fest that was “the epic dinner scene”, juggling calendars to be at two places at the same time (well … almost pulled that off), endless banter with the motley cast (who are now, my friends) on how to be more messed up versions of ourselves, … and, did I mention … smashing more plates while .. cussing like a mofo. And this isn’t even the meat of it .. rather the “beef” of it. See what I did there, Osagers?!
We started out as acquaintances/strangers/some of us friends, just a few weeks back. Laughed, cried, fought (on stage) and made up … got our egos bruised and then made sure we got it right. In the end we morphed into a family, this August Osage County family I love.
The stories we read, act or write are often juxtaposed against the stories we’ve lived. Even when left unspoken, I find that we are bound to the characters in an inexplicable way. I play Barbara Fordham in August: Osage County – this intellectually driven, scathing yet witty, feisty, honest to a fault, grammar nazi of a woman who is going through one of the most difficult phases of her life. Dutiful in her quest to keep peace with her family, Barbara does everything a good daughter should do. But what she really, really wants is to escape her mother, Violet Weston.
So there it began – my slow and agonizing journey to get to know Barb. Here’s a woman – completely disconnected from her acrid mother, separated from her philandering and unreliable husband, Bill and woefully failing to hold on to her rebellious teenage daughter, Jean. Detached and lonely, she projects a hard exterior … all this, right around the time when she is roped into Violet’s latest crisis and forced to visit her mother’s hermetically sealed world in Osage County, Oklahoma.
What ensues is a bitterly funny drama of human relationships explored through unraveling secrets and explosive exchanges that are a joy for any linguist or non-linguist, really! In the middle of a heated argument with her husband Bill, Barb snarls at him for using the wrong participle. Do this for yourself, don’t miss watching this fabulous Pulitzer winning script come to life on stage!!
Like many others in our Naatak cast, my personal journey of crawling in Barb’s skin was not an easy one – she is in some ways like me and in many ways not. I dived into the deep caverns of personal experiences, had candid conversations with those close to me and most importantly reflected alone as I tried to go deeper and deeper into the crevices of Barbara’s psyche. What comes out is what you see on Naatak’s stage – the verdict is in your hands now. Not a day goes by when I don’t wonder if I missed a key layer of her persona or twists of her complex mind. If I knew her in real life, would I want to reach out to be her friend, to listen, to hold her hand, to hug her .. maybe we would chat about our grammatical pedantry syndrome over tea and biscuits. And bond over how “forsook” could be our new go-to F-word.
No question – it will be a while (or maybe never)before I get to play someone as complex or nuanced as Barbara – but there is one thing I can say with all honesty. I’ve given this character as much of me as I could have as an actor. And I STILL feel I could do more.
Barb … I’ll miss you dearly, even though, as Bill says, you’re a pain in the arse. But before I let you go, make room for me to crawl under your skin one last time – to be even more deliciously bitter, scathingly funny, and a jagged little pill this coming weekend than ever before …
Ps: Come watch our last three shows at Cubberley Theatre from Feb 26th through Feb 28th. We play our parts – it IS the audience that makes a performance memorable! Tickets and details at www.naatak.org