by Lorie Lewis Ham
We thought we’d change things up a little for this week’s Local Live and interview one of the lead actors of GPC’s production of Grace & Glorie on stage at 2nd Space, Laurie Pessano, and the show’s director Robert Sanchez.
Interview with Robert Sanchez:
Lorie: Can you give us a brief synopsis of what this show is about?
Robert: The show is about two very different women. Grace is a feisty, elderly farmwoman who has checked herself out of the hospital and returned to her ramshackle cottage in the mountains of Virginia where she plans to die peacefully. Gloria (affectionately dubbed Glorie) is a transplanted New Yorker with a Harvard MBA, now volunteering as a hospice caregiver. At first cultures and generations hilariously collide, but over time the two women realize they have more in common than they ever could have imagined.
Lorie: Why did you want to direct this show?
Robert: I loved the script. It was so honest, and dealt with the themes of faith, love and loss in a very real and poignant way. It is also very funny.
Lorie: What do you like best about this show?
Robert: Grace & Glorie is a celebration of the human spirit. It is a story in which everyone can relate on some level. We have all experienced grief, wrestled with the joys and heartache of love, and have questioned the meaning in our own lives. Through two women, this show addresses these themes among others and celebrates humanity. I have loved watching our audiences identify with these characters through both laughter and tears.
Lorie: Were there any special challenges in directing it?
Robert: The real challenge initially was to find two actresses who could carry the show and deliver both the comedic and dramatic goods sincerely. Fortunately, we were able to have two veteran performers make up our cast. Mary Piona who plays Grace and Laurie Pessano who plays Gloria, are accomplished actresses who have been entertaining Valley audiences for years. These women have wonderful chemistry and give solid performances on a nightly basis. I have learned a lot from these two women and it has been an honor to work with them.
Interview with Laurie Pessano:
Lorie: What role do you play in this show?
Laurie P.: I play Gloria in the show, whom Grace nicknames “Glorie” after some lyrics in an old hymn. Glorie is an ambitious, accomplished, highly educated over-achiever, with a need to conquer and fix the world. Yet she has much to learn from Grace, an elderly, illiterate, backwoods country woman who is struggling with terminal cancer.
Lorie: Why did you want to play this role, in this show?
Laurie P.: Well, there’s only one other role in the play and I wasn’t right for it! I mostly liked the entire piece when I read it — it touches your soul and speaks to every relationship in the world. I wasn’t that enamored with the character of Gloria until I got into rehearsals and started understanding her better. A couple of weeks into rehearsal, I thought, “I see why she acts that way!” and I started finding more and more things about her I understood.
Lorie: What was the biggest challenge in playing this role?
Laurie P.: At first, the biggest challenge seemed to be the line load. I didn’t realize how difficult handling the props would be at the time. Frankly, the stage business has been more treacherous than the line work!
Lorie: What has been the best thing about being in this show?
Laurie P.: It’s been great working with Mary Piona, who plays Grace. She’s such a smart and effective actor. Additionally, our director has done a beautiful job and his love of the piece is evident in every aspect. The stage manager and prop people are excellent and so much of the action depends on their professionalism. The set, costumes, and sound design are all exactly right. I feel so lucky to be part of such a perfect team. And finally, the audience reaction has been so rewarding. For me, theatre is all about connecting with other human beings — Grace & Glorie seems to embrace the world with such compassion and humor that everyone leaves feeling uplifted and more at peace with life’s struggles. It is a joy to celebrate the intense joys and bone-deep sorrow of life with fellow travelers.
Grace and Glorie is on stage at 2nd Space Theatre in Fresno through June 17, 2012. You can learn more about tickets prices, etc. on GCP’s 2nd Space KRL event page.
Watch for a new Local Live every Wednesday evening at 7 here at KRL!