Maura and Smirk are directors

 

Smirk

What was in your pockets going into A Shoe Full of Wet Sand?

 

Maura  

Well, I know Amanda from her being in a workshop of a Fringe show I directed. And I’m friends with Kristen Bailey through Applied Mechanics.  Plus Kristen had told me a little about the show, namely that Amanda had become interested in the brain science behind trauma. How about you?

 

Smirk

I went to school with Amanda and have worked on shows with her. It’s been about 5 years since I’ve seen her perform so I went in very optimistic

 

Maura

Shall we start with script/content then?  I think it is hard to separate script from performance, since Amanda created it, though.

 

Smirk

Agreed. There was a lot of audience interaction which leads me to believe we may have had totally different experiences.

 

Maura

Yes, I’m interested in that.  I felt like when I went we segued very gracefully from a lot of open-ended audience interaction into a scripted show. I was impressed by the way Amanda accomplished that.

 

Smirk

Yes! It was smooth I agree.  I liked the repetition of the coloring in of the brain and what each part represented.  I believed it was a part of this character’s daily routine

 

Maura

Me too. It was so satisfying when she snapped at herself “I’m way ahead of you.”  Perhaps I wanted too much of a play, but I’d say that one of my only critiques would be that I wished the brain map had been wrapped in a little more at the end.  I felt like we left it behind and I wasn’t sure why.

 

This is perhaps more design but I also LOVED the hummed song/sound that triggered the brain map coloring. It is still stuck in my head.

 

Smirk

100% I wanted more of the map. And yes to the sounds. It was very thoughtful.  I wanted to know more about the “why now?” It seemed very habitual and if we’re transient imaginary friends, why do we get it all now? I wanted so desperately for something to have to force her upstairs.

 

Maura

I think in general there was something so compelling for me watching a woman navigate her own mind and trauma.

 

Smirk

Not like the “close call” cuz she ordered takeout.

 

Maura

Ah, that’s a good point.

 

Smirk

I did care for her wellbeing and was anxious for her to uncover what brought her to this point.

 

Maura

I did get the sense that exploring and rehashing this stuff is something she does on the daily. But I agree with you that it seemed like it was our presence that started the show, which didn’t quite work with our casting as imaginary friends.

 

Smirk

Right! Any more thoughts on the script?

 

Maura

I felt like the ending was abrupt.

 

Smirk

Yes It was more of a day-in-the-life then a complete one act. I need the sequel. I like Mercy.

 

Maura

Yes!  I need the sequel too!  I suppose I felt like the “return to nature” stuff came a little out of left field for me — it wasn’t totally undeserved, but the animals and strained relationship with technology felt like an undercurrent, and then suddenly it was the focus of the ending.

 

That shift into back to nature felt like the beginning of sort of a second act and I was like “ok, ok, let’s go with this” and then it was over.

 

Smirk

Right!

 

Maura

The part where she talked about mental health treatment as not having a finish line really struck me.  The concept that you can “get better” mentally and emotionally is so harmful, so seeing it specifically rejected in a piece was beautiful to me.

 

Smirk

Yes!  

 

Maura

I think it might be useful to segue into Amanda’s performance here? It was you saying “I like Mercy” that made me think of it.  She is just such a compelling performer. I was so invested in this person, and she navigated so many style and tone changes in this completely graceful way.

 

I also was just so pleased that she avoided the sort of “harsh edges” stereotype of a military woman/person dealing with PTSD. That stereotype is a thing right? Do you know what I mean?

 

Smirk

Most definitely. The immediate association with PTSD is military.  I’ve definitely heard ignorant people say, “you can’t have PTSD if you didn’t serve.”

 

Maura

Ughhhh. WRONG.

 

Smirk

That just comes from only hearing the term when speaking about a serviceperson. It isn’t called post-traumatic military disorder.

 

But we digress.

 

I also can’t recall a character that Amanda has played like this, and it was nice to experience her growth.  I was very engrossed by her.

 

Let’s talk about the lights and sound

 

Maura

I mean, I loved the basement. I thought the atmosphere was great, the trash art was great, the beer bottles were alarming.

 

I loved the completely scattered puzzle, and the use of the couch as ersatz stage. For me, one of the most transporting house play environments I’ve seen.

 

Smirk

Yeah! I must say I have a thing about basements so I had to relax and ‘Yes, and…” it out haha! but it was cozy and other-worldly like a bunker we could lose time in.

 

Maura

The lights were a part of that, I think, too.

 

Smirk

The puzzles and random items/pseudo-hoarding were really neat and helped elude to a disruption in the brain waves.

 

Maura

Yes! I was with someone who really loved the addition of the word puzzles on the vent.

 

Smirk

Coping mechanisms.

 

Maura

Yes, coping mechanisms, like the idea that one of the pieces of being imbalanced or suffering trauma is actually boredom, being stuck inside your own head. Oh, also — the use of the old toaster oven as laptop. Genius.

 

Smirk

Mmmm! Forgot that one! Yes! Loved it.

 

Maura

That felt novel to me, the focus on boredom.

 

Smirk

And I liked how the title was incorporated too. Quick sand.

 

Maura

Me too, I usually get twitchy when the Title of the Play is Stated, but this felt so effortless and natural.  I mean and also, that idea was heartbreaking, and so evocative. What if you felt like you carried the quicksand with you, in your very shoes? Oh man.

 

Smirk

Agreed.

 

Maura

So actually my least favorite design element, other than the humming, was sound. I didn’t entirely dramaturgically buy the speaker.  It was so obvious and on the stairs. Everything else was so atmospheric and in a way the speaker felt like the inside of her brain, so I wish it had been hidden or incorporated a little better.

 

Also to have the same speaker be the outside world/delivery person and the inside of her brain took me a tiny bit out of the play because I kept imagining someone else was there.

 

Solow shows naturally have limited resources so I don’t wanna be a jackass about it.

 

Smirk

I wasn’t a fan of it there either, but I figured there were so many nooks and crannies that if they hadn’t wanted it seen it could’ve easily gone above our heads or been hidden.

 

Maura

So why did they want it seen? Do you have any ideas?

 

Smirk

Now I’m not as certain as I was because you’re right, it was her thoughts, her alarm clock and the delivery guy. I would’ve really bought if she picked it to be just one and acknowledged it every time it made sound.

 

The more obvious remedy would have been to hide it so that all sound can come out of the same speaker.

 

Maura

Exactly. I could have also dug a speaker outside of the door for the delivery guy, since those lines were so clearly delineated content-wise.

 

I do think the nature reveal at the end was pretty great, though. For limited resources it was a really nice effect. And the birdsong absolutely contributed.

 

Smirk

There was a lot of thought and depth that went into creating the space that I think was immensely effective.

 

Maura

Which I think in part was Kristen — Amanda was saying after the show that she really encouraged the space being a hyper detailed mess.

 

Smirk

And it was the proper length. Though it did leave me wanting more and worrying for Mercy. It was an enjoyable piece with a subtle delivery for a large message.

 

Maura

It’s so hard to know with a piece like this what is director and what is performer/creator, but I do think Kristen must have had a lot to do with the tightness of conceit and transitions.

I thought it could have gone on for longer, but I am always glad to see someone do just the material they have rather than artificially stretching it. So maybe you’re right and just SEQUEL!

 

How are you doing Mercy? We care about you!

 

Smirk

Yes!

 

Maura

Also she as director clearly left space for a lot of authenticity and discovery, which is always so rad to see.

 

Smirk

When the actor knows what to do with that allowance, which Amanda did. Sometimes when you give an inch they take a mile…

 

Maura

Yes, that is a true, true thing you say.

 

Smirk

I think overall the content was very inclusive and relatable on the most basic level of self care.

 

Maura

Agreed. And also I am always just so freaking happy when a woman creates a complex, meaty role for herself. Beyond that — when someone who has thus far done one role in the wider text-based play universe starts to make their own stories, their own worlds.

 

Smirk

Do you think it helped or healed at all?

 

Maura

Did it help/heal me a little? Definitely. Did it help/heal Mercy? I’m not sure. And I guess I kind of like being not sure of the efficacy of her rituals and explorations. It is uncomfortable, though. Did you?

 

Smirk

Nicely put. It didn’t help or heal me, but I did leave worried for Mercy and empathetic.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s