A blog post by Emerald City cast member Morgan Rowe – Emerald City opens March 9th at West of Lenin. For more from the cast & crew visit the Emerald City Blog.
I first met playwright S.P. Miskowski over ten years ago when I was cast in an independently produced production of S.P.’s play The Red Room. It was a wonderfully gothic piece about three sisters whose mother had just died. Two of the grief stricken siblings proceed to pick up their mother’s mantle, becoming serial killers in the rural south. I was the innocent of the bunch, a woman stuck in perpetual childhood who was being sexually abused by her oldest sibling. Contrary to how it may sound when boiled down to those few facts, The Red Room was deliciously funny in all it’s dark, disturbing, haunting stark reality. After the play was over, I knew two things…I would always jump at the chance to work with the director, Leslie Swackhamer, and I would always run, not walk, to be in a play written by S.P. Miskowski.
After doing Daughters of Catastrophe, S.P.’s play produced by the Mae West Fest in 2007, S.P. approached me about collaborating on a solo piece. She’d write and ultimately direct; I would edit and act. I was absolutely thrilled that out of all the amazingly talented people here in Seattle, she would choose me to work with. In My New Friends, S.P. used a story from the media as a seed for two almost dueling sets of monologues that explored the dark alleys of social networking, teenage angst, parental competition and the common, yet futile, goal of trying to fit into a society bent on becoming more and more streamlined and homogenous. I was blown away each time I returned to the text, by S.P.’s artistry, her ability to drop a coin into the collective consciousness of the audience at just the right moment. Being on stage by myself with no props, set or even action to speak of, I had only the script and the audience to work with and I began to feel when the people sitting in the dark would all collectively have an a-ha moment or when their delight in a character would suddenly turn to horror. Since my task was to embody the emotional landscape of the two women on stage, I had to almost block out the keen mind of the writer who gave me the words so that I could let the audience discover the multitude of land-mines hidden along the path of the story at their own pace. In other words, I had to willfully pretend that I didn’t understand what a genius S.P. is while I was actively performing her play. It was increasingly difficult not to stop in the middle of performances and break character and say, “I know…RIGHT…isn’t it AMAZING how S.P. just slipped that little dark nugget of nuanced human deviousness into a sentence that seemed to be so innocent and without guile….???”
For almost two years now, Live Girls has been workshopping Emerald City, honing the story with S.P. to bring you the script we have today. Knowing S.P. the way I do, I would venture to say that this is her most personal piece and therefore, in some ways, her most accessible. It is a love story written by a wizard. Really, it is several love stories…each real and often agonizingly human and told with the sharp humor and deep honesty that makes S.P. so darn powerful. S.P. brings all of her brainiac gifts to this one and then she brings something more…the courage to reveal her heart.