I sat down with director Eddie Kurtz and actress Laura Jane Bailey to see what drew them to wanting to bring Bad Dates to the Dragon stage. Here's what they had to say:
Q: Laura Jane, you suggested this show to Meredith Hagedorn for production in the 2011 season, correct?
LJB: Meredith came to me and said "I'm trying to fill out the season and I need more comedies" and I said "I have a comedy" it's a one-woman show and it's unique. And she said "let me read it" so she read it and called me back the next day and said "I love it, I'm putting it on the schedule for next season."
Q: What made you say I have to do this show?
LJB: Originally I chose the show for just an audition monologue. I though there's something in here I can use, this woman talks like me, she's funny, it shows everything I want a casting director to see. But when I read the play, I was like "oh wait, there's actually a story here, it's actually pretty good" and I wanted to tell that story and me importantly I wanted to see if I could do the job.
Q: How has it been in terms of preparation? I imagine it's different since it's just you - you have to develop the character by yourself, you're not bouncing off other people. As an actress has that changed how you've prepared for this?
LJB: Yes. No. *laugh* I'm totally lying. It hasn't. You would think that it would. It's the same work. I used the director a lot more than I normally would about talking about the character and things. I would probably talk about it with my fellow actors more. I had to bounce things off the director more.
Q: Now were you the one who recommended Eddie as the director?
Q: Why did you think "Eddie! He totally gets a one woman show!"
LJB: I have worked with 3 amazing directors in my life. And he is one of them.
Q: So Eddie you've been out of the theatre in awhile right? What made you get out of retirement to do this?
EK: I think there are very very very very few scenarios that would have gotten me to direct again. And given some previous experience, having people that I trusted implicitly and that I would enjoy being around that much, Laura Jane was one of those people. To back track a little, I had a small creative experience doing a little minute and a half iMovie that I did. I had gotten into politics a lot - I've made a whole career change. I worked at the Berkley Repertory Theatre previously and as a part of my leaving theatre and changing careers I wanted to find something I really wanted to do in the world. So I' d had an experience making a creative thing, I'd gotten home from work and was tired and decided I'd give it a shot on my Mac and then, like, four hours passed and I was exhilarated and it made me think I need to work those creative muscles a little more. So theatre was in the back of my mind. And then about a year ago Laura Jane sent this to me and I was kind of laughing and I told her to send me the script and my fiancé was more excited than me and I was feeling very protective of my time.What I realized I missed most was not performance but rehearsal and acting class. I think I learned more about myself and my life through acting class in college and I missed building things and building moments. So when I finally did read the play I was just filled with ideas of these moments and and oh that would be fun, we could do this and how to stage that and do that. So I mailed Laura Jane and I was excited. I cannot think of a single actor in the Bay Area that I frankly had the faith in. She's been in two of my shows - Pericles and Night of the Iguana - and I just always loved working with her. She takes notes, she's smart, she's just talented. There's really no one else I would have said yes to.
Q: Now Laura Jane I heard that you went to New York City for a week?
LJB: I've been to NY maybe five times in my life and it's always been to see theatre or something. So this time I went to try to find Haley. I just looked for her everywhere. I saw her a couple of times. Big learnings were "oh my gosh people in NY look just like people in the midwest and the west coast." That was a big learning because I literally thought I'd have to dye my hair or you know...
Q: Dress weird because that's what they do on Sex in the City?
LJB: Right! Exactly! No they are normal people just like we are. But it was really more about the pace. Here on the West Coast, things happen when they happen. In New York, things happen when you make them happen. You attack your day. If you don't attack your day things don't get done. So I think that's why people perceive Manhattanites as rude but they're just getting their stuff done and I was able to witness that. And I saw it that first day there and I tried to live the next four days like that.
Another fun learning was people in New York take their kids places. There are kids everywhere. We don't really do that here. You get on the subway with the kid. You take your kid to work with your because your daycare is next door. And in Chicago your kid is out in the suburb and you're out in the city so that was really helpful. Haley's a working mom so her kid is constantly near here or in her head.
Q: Well this has been really great, thanks so much for sharing this!
There are still a few more chances to see Laura Jane as Haley in Bad Dates - the show closes this Sunday and there are still some tickets available. Thursday is nearly sold out so buy your tickets today!