The 2nd Act Players’ production of the new play “Boys in the Basement” hopes to “break box office records” for the young troupe.
2nd Act’s third production so far, “Boys in the Basement” is another written by Creative Director and Co-founder John Frank.
Mary Reynard will direct “Boys in the Basement” for the production at the Noyes Center. “Having Mary join us represents a major step forward for the 2nd Act Players,” says Frank.
Frank wrote the play to inject humor into the poignant and difficult story of men coping with divorce, as well as to provoke the audience. “I’m excited to see how Mary’s creative vision will blend with ours to bring the story of these angry, depressed, and, in some cases, downright misogynistic men to the stage,” says Frank.
"We're planing a talkback each Friday evening," says John Frank. "Several divorce support groups have indicated they will be coming those nights so they and others in the audience are invited to stay to talk with the author [me] and the director, and possibly some cast members. I want people going through divorce and dealing with its painful aftermath to know they're not alone and that there is life after divorce."
Reynard, director of “Boys in the Basement,” spoke with Evanston Now about her history and this new piece.
What are some of the highlights of your directing career?
Well, currently, I have a show running at Redtwist called “That’s F’d Up”- and what I’m excited about is that I have three original works that I’m directing, going up soon and almost overlapping. I’m directing an indie television/web series, too. We’re doing the pilot and then we’re going to shop it around. Netlflix, Amazon, Hulu…we’re hoping to find a very commercial platform.
How did you find the 2nd Act Players?
There’s a woman, Barbara, who’s the unofficial casting agent of Chicago. She keeps meticulous records of everybody’s information, so John had called her, and she contacted me, because she knows I like to work on new work. So I read the play and I was just stunned by the play and wanted to do it.
I think you can tell when there’s an enthusiasm for your work. John could tell from our interview.
Characterize “Boys in the Basement." Is it similar to work you’ve encountered before? What’s new about it?
It’s very creative and unusual, very original, and about a very underserved topic; what men go through when going through a divorce. John Frank, the author, has really written something unapologetic, very honest- it was a real eye-opener for me, the testosterone-driven world of the man cave. All these men that have been hurt by their relationships with women, we see how they cope, how they develop coping mechanisms that change them. It’s very provocative.
Do you find the material “misogynistic,” as John Frank put it in the press release?
I think that it could be interpreted as misogynistic, but as director, I see these aspects as coping mechanisms. Without judging the characters, I see how their pain informs their behavior. They come up with generalizations about the way women are, distance themselves from women by hating and disrespecting them…
John has written in the need of women for men and men for women, but we see how these men fill their need. Often it’s with casual relationships with women, and not taking it seriously, not getting too attached, so they can’t damage them further.
In the past, I might have seen it as misogynistic, but looking deeper, you actually see the journey that men take to get there.
Does the play address more than the male perspective?
It appealed to me, so speaking for myself, I think that’s it’s informative and enlightening, so women will respond to it. It will give them some information that they never thought about.
Because this is very sophisticated material, I didn’t want to go in with a cookie-cutter approach. I decided to do table work with the actors, and we’d discuss each scene. That way I’m tapping into the resources of the actors.
It has such a complicated subtext that the actors had to get really in tune with the scenes. They’ve brought nuances that really can’t be directed. It informs the harmony in the cast, and you can’t get it without that type of work, letting everybody discuss their insights.
We’d also ask the author, and he’d often say it was a revelation to him. The actors have been very open, very willing to go into new emotional territory- it’s very raw. The actors have been great.
“Boys in the Basement” runs November 6th-15th at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St.
November 6th and 13th performances have special rates for divorcees and children of divorce. Tickets may be purchased at the special rate online at http://evanston2ndactplayers.com/boys-in-the-basement/.