by Nancy Holley
Special KRL coupon for this show at the end of this article
“Sitting around” are you kidding? According to director Donny Graham and actors Leeni Mitchell and Susan Mathews, A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking abounds with action and energy, belying its title. Mitchell and Mathews, veteran actors accustomed to the hard work that theater productions require, still find themselves exhausted at the end of each rehearsal from the intensity and action of their characters.
The play is set in Westchester County, New York, in the present day. Hannah Mae Bindler (Leeni Mitchell), new to the area, is anxious to make friends, latching on to her nearest neighbor, Maude Mix (Susan Mathews). Mitchell describes Hannah Mae as a former University of Texas cheerleader – Hook’em Horns – full of energy and enthusiasm! Hanna Mae is married to Carl Joe, a former tackle for the University of Texas, who takes the train into New York each day leaving Hanna Mae to her own devices. Hanna Mae, a non-malicious busy body, who lives on the surface through her outgoing personality, is “emotionally abused by her husband and is drawn to Maude, sensing a kindred spirit.” Mitchell describes the play as very funny and fast paced. “There are elements of friendship, grit, and optimism that will speak to everyone.”
Initially, Maude is not enthusiastic about Hannah Mae’s intrusion into her ordered life. According to Mathews, Maude lives superficially with many acquaintances, activities including intense exercise that keep her busy, daily routines that are ordered and controlled. Hannah Mae is a loose cannon, disrupting Maude’s well-ordered existence causing her to delve into issues she normally keeps hidden from view. Maude is married to a lawyer, who is openly promiscuous with flings every two years, but who always returns. Despite the fact that Maude’s “identity is heavily wrapped around him, she has a wild side that does not fit her cocoon.”
Both Mathews and Mitchell prefer small casts, but admit that a two-person show puts a heavy burden on both actors. Trust and a similar work ethic are musts. “Two-person shows are very intense, wonderful, and scary. Working with Susan is good because we both work the same way,” says Mitchell.
Mathews is happy to have Mitchell as a co-actor. “I don’t need to worry. She is willing to work as hard as I am to make everything right.”
Donny Graham, with an undergraduate degree in theater history, is a veteran director and actor. He prefers directing to acting because of the control directors have. “As an actor, the control is with the director. I enjoy having the show be mine, picking the ideas, and seeing the characters develop under my direction.”
Graham likes A Coupla White Chicks because of the bonding that occurs between two women who, on the surface, appear diametrically opposed, but during the play develop a relationship that will last a lifetime. “It is the type of bonding that women do, but men don’t,” says Graham, who sometimes finds himself jealous of the ability of women to bond in a short period of time. Graham, who considers himself a New Yorker, loves the set design. It is his concept of Westchester County, New York, environs. When asked about the difficulty of directing a play with only two characters, Graham stressed the importance of continuous action, which author John Ford Noonan provides within the script. “The actors are multitasking, and it is great!”
The show opens at the Ice House Theatre at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 29, 2011 and runs for three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 4/29, 4/30, 5/6, 5/7, 5/13, and 5/14 and matinees at 2:00 p.m. on 5/1, 5/8 and 5/15.
For more information about the Visalia Players, check out their website or the Local Theatre listings page here at KRL. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.
Watch for another Local Live, here next Wednesday at 7 p.m
Print this page and take to the show to get discount:
Visalia Community Players Two-For-One Coupon A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking By John Ford Noonan Admit 2 Adults for $12.00 Coupon good for any performance of the play. One Coupon Per Family
Reservations Suggested – 559-734-3900