The Stronger Variations at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

Brendan: Hi, I’m Brendan Healey, the Artistic
Director at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and I’m thrilled to have Allyson McMackon next
to me, who is the Artistic Director for Theatre Rusticle and the creator, director, choreographer,
the props builder for The Stronger Variations, on stage now. So Allyson, thank you for being
here. Allyson: Thank you.
Brendan: It’s great to have you back this year. So maybe you’d like to tell me a little
bit about what drew you to this piece, my understanding is that it’s based off of
a monologue that August Strindberg wrote in like 1885 I think, where a woman is confronting
her mistress- the mistress of her husband- on Christmas Eve. So what drew you to this
material? Allyson: Well, it’s one of these pieces
that I guess has been hanging around since theatre school, I remember having to do it
as a scene study. It really is one of these things where as a scene study you’re partnered
up, you’re flipping over between the two parts, and that left an impression. And then
as Theatre Rusticle started sort of moving around, in 2005 we got a spot in the Fringe.
And I just kind of… I didn’t have anything specific I wanted to do but I wanted to try
something… memory starts cooking back and it’s like “Oh!”, because it’s, as
you say, it’s a monologue for two women. You know in 1880… I think it was 1888 sort
of in there when he wrote it, the big convention is that one of them speaks and the other is
silent, and he wrote it for his experimental theatre project. So I was interested in that
level, I guess I was drawn to it more in terms of form rather than in terms of the actual
content of it… and then wanted to see what would happen if we just take a vague idea
of a musical theme and variations, deconstruct the piece to death, and see what happens when
you weave different women through different parts, cycling through and seeing how we respond
to that same situation. Brendan: So coming back to this material,
I mean you mentioned that you first encountered it in Theatre school, and coming back to it,
what have you discovered about it? About the play, about the text, about the situation,
things that you learned about it. Allyson: Well it’s interesting, cause in
Theatre School it’s just about acting; it’s just about “Okay, how do act? How do you
keep your life alive when you have no language?” And certainly in terms of our process, and
the way that I work and what Theatre Rusticle it’s all about, language can be anything.
So it’s adhering to the text but it’s also adhering to your inner text, to your
physical text. And to see that that’s, that we’re able to apply to what’s ostensibly
a classical piece is a kind of cool thing. I was talking to someone, I can’t remember
when, but Strindberg’s misogyny comes up all the time, which is an interesting thing,
and I don’t know what I really think about that. But I’ve always thought of the play
as actually a very feminist piece, or maybe that’s just the way that I wanted to go
in there, without being man-hating. I find it a human piece actually, you know so that’s
been a bit of an illumination inside of it, to be able to find humanity inside of something
that’s actually so latent with projection, which I think we do with very dated pieces,
like classical pieces, pieces in the cannon. And this situation is eternal, whether it’s
a wife, mistress, husband, lover, friend, like you know… We’re hurting each other
all the time and we’re looking for our own satisfaction all the time. We talk a lot in
rehearsal about this notion of the “shock of sensation”, when you actually feel something:
“Oh my god, I’m in love,” or “Oh my god I’m so sad,” or “This is not my
beautiful house, this is not my beautiful wife,” that kind of stuff as well. But what
that actually does in the system, like physically in the system, as opposed to “Oh yeah, I’m
thinking that through”. In the piece they have these little sections where they actually
talk about that, what does hurt actually feel like, like in your body, in your mind, in
your whole system? What does the love feel like? What does the sex feel like? Yeah, really
the sensation of it. Brendan: Thank you so much for being here,
for being back at Buddies, it’s great to have you.
Allyson: Thank you! Brendan: So The Stronger Variations are on
stage until December 7th, so please come, come, come, come, it’s a beautiful show.
And once again it’s a pleasure to have you. Allyson: Thank you Brendan.

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