Marlin Thomas’s riveting new play concerns a pawn broker during the Second World War called upon to be a middleman between the Nazis and our allied forces. He must help hammer-out a deal between two people in Zurich. The collateral: cash, weapons, and prisoners of war.
The play features Kallen Blair.
We spoke with her about what it means to do a Holocaust drama today.
Tell us about yourself as an artist.
An artist who is still learning about who I am as an artist! The reason I made theater as a kid is different to the reason I made theater in college and is different still to the reason I continue to do it as a young professional. I know for certain that I view my chosen profession as a responsibility as much as I view it as a joy. If it’s a question of what kind of theater I want to make — I believe it is important for people to see theater and feel hope, or feel like their perceptions have grown, or feel known. That is the kind of work I hope to offer as an actor. Beyond that, I know I’m still growing as an artist. And I hope I never stop!
When dealing with historical dramas, do you feel a stronger sense of responsibility in conveying the play’s message?
Yes and no. I actually don’t think I feel a stronger sense of responsibility about conveying the message as I feel about “doing the character justice” if that makes sense. If this is a human who actually lived and had real dreams, passions, triumphs and failures — then I want to breathe life into their words in a way that validates those dreams, passions, triumphs, and failures. However, I remember having a conversation with a mentor after a mini freakout over this exact situation, and they reminded me that every character on a page could have lived a very real life, so how is this any different? Any drama could be a historical drama in that sense. So I suppose there should not be a difference. As far as a “conveying a play’s message” — I don’t believe that should ever really be the focus. Tell the story truthfully and it will come out.
What role does independent theater play in the New York art scene ?
It gives rare theater a platform. Usually the indie theater scene is where that eccentric but genius production happens because the Off-Broadway and (obviously) Broadway circuit can’t afford to take a chance on it. I have definitely left an underground theater thinking “wow I wish every person in the world could see this.” Granted, I have also left without such positive reviews …. but still fully acknowledge that independent theater gives everyone a chance to put their work out there. I am working on my own right now, actually.
Oh wow. This list is always growing! My absolute dream is originating roles in new works. I am thankful to have had the opportunities before and will continue to seek them out. It is an honor to be trusted by a playwright to help them find a character’s voice and facilitate the making of a story that is identifiable by the people watching it.
I tend to nerd out on the topic of contemporary playwrights so working directly with them is definitely a dream. Aside from that, there are a whole host of Tennessee Williams’ ladies I am itching to play, as well as a wide range of Shakespeare’s characters (Imogen, Desdemona, Puck to name a few). My off the wall dream role is Cyrano de Bergerac; I am not aware of a previous gender-bent version of Cyrano but I have full plans to make it happen in the future!
THE MIDDLEMAN BY MARLIN THOMAS
A FEATURED EVENT AT NYSUMMERFEST
THURSDAY, SEPT. 14 @ 9PM
SATURDAY, SEPT. 16 @ 1PM
SUNDAY, SEPT. 17 @ 6PM
THE HUDSON GUILD THEATER
441 WEST 26 STREET
(BETWEEN 9TH AND 10TH AVENUES)
NEW YORK CITY