Life, loss and progression

. May 22, 2012.

The Purple Rose Theatre opened its 21st season on September 22, with a revival of one of their most successful plays, founder Jeff Daniels’ “Escanaba in da Moonlight.” The Purple Rose premiered the play in 1995, and the movie version came out in 2001. The play will run through December 17th.

I recently spoke with Artistic Director, Guy Sanville, and with actors Jim Porterfield and Wayne David Parker, who were in the original production.
 

How will you re-imagine the play this time?
Sanville: We don’t do karaoke here. There’s been a lot of people who have wanted to see this play again. We have three new cast members and we’re bringing back the two old warhorses here, reprising their roles. We’re sixteen years better, I hope. The interesting thing is that we’ve done the two other plays in the trilogy since then, Escanaba, and Escanaba in Love, so they can’t help but inform this production.
 

Jim and Wayne, you created these roles. A lot happens in sixteen years. What will you be bringing now that you might not have brought before?
Porterfield: You get a different perspective on life when you get over fifty, I think. So I bring some of that with me, the good things and the bad. You start to lose people, and there is definitely loss in this play.
Porterfield: Sure, a month doesn’t go by that somebody, a friend, or a friend of a friend, a relative…
Sanville: Life looks very different when there are fewer years ahead of you than behind you. 
Parker: For me there’s more a sense of keeping things as real as possible. We’re doing a farce here and the whole thing with farce is committing to it. If you commit to that, then it’s believable. I think that’s one of the things I’ve learned over the years, the difference between blatantly trying to get a bit in a show, or making it real. Sometimes, when you know a script as well as Jim and I know it, you kind of play towards what you know is going to happen next. We have to fight against that. It becomes more and more important to stay in the moment and just tell the truth.
Porterfield: This production is high stakes. This is the real deal, deer camp in the UP. All this stuff that happens in deer camps, the traditions, the families, we have an obligation to get it right.
 

There are no women in the play, until the very end, but some of the most poignant moments revolve around the men’s memories of the women in their lives.
Jim: The women are a very important aspect of the play. There’s a lot of reverence shown to them.
Sanville: This is a very special play for me. I have twelve great tragedies on my desk, but to find a really great, well-crafted comedy is… you know, “dying is easy, comedy is hard.” It’s true. There’s lots to chew on in this play, underneath all the laughs.

Trending

Domino’s Farms Aids Ann Arbor’s Need for Office Space

Domino’s Pizza and Arbor Research are both launching new office building projects at Domino’s Farms. Domino’s Pizza is creating a 33,000-square-foot building on the north side of Domino’s Farms, expanding to their current space. Arbor Research is creating a new 49,500-square-foot headquarters building on the east side of Domino’s Farms. Both buildings should be completed

A Physician’s Perspective on Legalized Cannabis

On Tuesday, November 6th, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Ten years ago, we had become the 13th state to legalize Cannabis for medical use. I voted for the medical cannabis law years ago because, in my view, cannabis is not a dangerous product, and too many people were being imprisoned for its use. At that time, however, I did not subscribe to the argument that there were legitimate medical uses for cannabis. How things have changed.

Tiny Expo at Ann Arbor District Library—A Curated Holiday Gift Fair with Flair

The Tiny Expo is a gem of an indie arts and crafts fair for vendors with original and unexpected products that make wonderful gifts but may not be an obvious fit for Ann Arbor’s mainstream art fairs. Shoppers who crave artistic, high quality products with diverse price points will find a rich variety of unique, handmade products to choose from.

New Tenants in Downtown Ypsilanti

Formerly long-vacant buildings in Downtown Ypsilanti are experiencing revitalization as small businesses and nonprofits are rapidly filling up spaces. Michigan Advocacy Program (MAP), a nonprofit organization that, “provides access to the justice systems for those that need it most,” recently purchased the Smith Furniture building at 15 S Washington Street which became their headquarters. Decode