David Mamet is one of today's most well known and controversial playwrights. Read on to learn about his play Boston Marriage, which premieres tonight at UM's Studio Theater in Room 204 of Hecht Residential College.
By: Cristian Andres Benavides
Boston Marriage is set in Boston (obviously) in the late 18th century. It centers around Anna and Claire, who are in a "Boston marriage" - a term coined around this time period for women who lived and prospered together without the help of men. At the beginning of the play, Anna is supplementing her income by becoming the mistress of a wealthy man while Claire is struggling to get Anna to accept her new female lover. Things to awry when Claire's new love discovers Anna wearing her mother's necklace. Most of the play focuses on Anna trying to get Claire back from her new lover.
The show is intense, to say the least. The characters include one woman fighting for another and a hilarious Scottish maid; most importantly, what makes the show unique is that every character is a fighter and each one is always reaching for her respective goals. The ludicrous twists and turns in the plot make it hard to give an accurate description of what goes on without giving away too much information. Nevertheless, the play is funny, sad, twisted, and oh so good. It runs for about an hour and thirty minutes, plus a fifteen minute intermission - so bring a jacket, it gets cold.
The play, originally directed by Mamet himself, was released around a time during which he was criticized for only being able to write male characters. It originally premiered at the American Repertory Theater, which now serves as Harvard University's theater facility and training center, on June 4, 1999. Boston Marriage has since been performed all over the globe from Peru, London, Ireland, and New York to right here in Miami, thanks to director Sarah Zemach.
The young artists in the play had four weeks to put the whole show together, including line memorization, stage blocking, costumes, lights, and sound. The overwhelming effort it takes to put on a show usually takes a considerable amount of time, but for this production, everything had to happen in only one month.
The first week is just table work. According to Zemach, "We [literally] just sit around the table and we talk about the tactics. We run it through, make a lot of decisions, and flush out the characters." She went on to say that basic character and play analyses and understanding what the show is all about also take place during this first week of development.
"After the table work," Zemach continued, "the idea is everyone should be able to make choices together." There are then two weeks of rehearsals in a green room - a room set aside from the performance stage solely for rehearsal purposes. During these two weeks the actors should form a rough block for the play, not unlike the rough drafts writers often compose before they present their final works.
In the final week before the show, the cast and crew move into the studio. This process consists of making the set, arranging the sound, and blocking the final production.
It's a rough process, and although the clock is ticking for the show to premiere, the cast and crew seem relatively ready. After all the hours of hard work that has been put into the show, Zemach said, "I am actually very excited about it. I think it will be very fun to watch. Come watch Boston Marriage - you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be turned on...maybe."
About the Director
Zemach reportedly works well under pressure and has no idea what she would do with free time, something that has been unheard of for this 20-year-old Michigan native since her junior year. Working from 7 a.m. to midnight isn't a long day for this dedicated director; it's every day.
She walks around campus with a calm, confident smile on her face, always ready to meet the next deadline which, quite often, is never too far away. She is getting a B.A. in theater with a concentration in directing as well as a major in sociology and minors in gender and women's studies and psychology.
Although she was born in Michigan, Zemach graduated from Coral Gables Senior High School back in 2007. She has always had an interest in the theatrical world, and this interest has grown from stage management to directing. To date, she has directed eight productions at the U and assisted the direction of another eight.
The young director is in the midst of graduate school applications, finals, projects, her job, and volunteer work, all while she concentrates on her Boston Marriage production. After strike - when the crew usually takes down the set and restores the performing facility back to its original format - on Sunday, Zemach begins rehearsals for next show, Karen Hartman's Gum.
Needless to say, this busy bee is very excited for her show to start and proud of what the cast and crew have accomplished. When asked if she would change anything about the process or the show in general, she gave a confident smile and said, "I guess if there was anything that I should have changed, I'll know after they've done the show." She then added nonchalantly, "It'll be great."
Cast and Crew
Anna - Sarah Siegel
Claire - Grace McCabe
Catherine - Liz Sihara
Stage manager - Franas Cruz
Set designer - Megan M.
Lights - Sean Zajac
Sound - Chris Ryan
Thursday, November 4 - 8 p.m.
Friday, November 5 - 8 p.m.
Saturday, November 6 - 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Sunday, November 7 - 2 p.m.