Emily Schwend, Jay Stull, and Boo Killebrew of “Take Me Back”

The Kindling Theatre Company presents Take Me BackWe all make terrible decisions at some point. With any luck, those terrible decisions only lead to some heartache, or maybe just some slight lingering shame, perhaps a small scar or two.

But for some terrible decisions, the consequences are a bit more dire — like a four-year stint in federal prison, which is what happens to the character of Bill in Emily Schwend‘s excellent new play directed by Jay Stull for The Kindling Theatre Company, Take Me Back. A short time after Bill’s release, he’s back living with his Mom, trying to help her take care of herself, trying to get his life back on track, trying to settle his relationship with old flame Julie (played by Boo Killebrew), and trying to get his truck running again. But opportunities don’t come easy for an ex-con in Muskogee, OK (yes, that Muskogee).

This play succeeds, as I point out in the interview, in marrying the political and personal — it’s one that kept me thinking after I left the room, which is one of the best compliments I can pay to a theatrical production. Go see this show.

Listen in as Emily, Jay, Boo, and I discuss writing close to home, systematic inequality vs. flawed character, paying for bad decisions, and why this very American play is important for New York City right now.

“Is it possible to be good as a person in places where there is no opportunity for improvement, or employment…?”

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Clay Edmonds, Janet Jenness, and Aurora Heimbach of “OCD: or, The Trouble with Mrs. Henderson”

Gobsmacked Productions presents "OCD: The Trouble with Mrs. Henderson"I think of Hedda Gabler as one of those Mount Everest sort of shows; “exciting and daunting,” as one of the guests on today’s episode puts it.

The ideas and challenges of Ibsen’s classic are brought smack-dab between the play’s original 1890 setting and the modern day, in Gobsmacked! Productions’ 1950s-set re-telling entitled OCD: or, The Trouble with Mrs. Henderson. Gobsmacked producers Clay Edmonds and Janet Jenness share directing duties with Clay’s original script, and the (fabulous) actress Aurora Heimbach takes on the tragic heroine, known here as Henrietta Henderson; that’s her with the rifle in the photos below.

Listen in as Clay, Janet, Aurora and I discuss setting Clay’s favorite play in the 1950s, their personal relationships with that archetypical era in their choice of location (the American South), and what it’s like to take on the challenge of one of theatre’s most iconic roles.

“…I thought translating this piece into the ’50s was totally genius…that veneer of the ’50s, that painted on, plastic, ‘everything’s great’ was this even more concrete obstacle that I think helped with the claustrophobia of this woman who is trying to reconcile her own aspirations with the reality of the hand that she’s dealt…”

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