The New Electric Ballroom

Last night, the Acting Class had a unique experience at The Rogue Machine production of The New Electric Ballroom. The play was written by Enda Walsh and was directed by John Perrin-Flynn at Theatre/Theater.The theater was most likely one of the smallest any of us have ever sat (or performed) in, providing an extremely personal experience and interaction with the cast of only 4. The play chronicled a day in the life of three irish sisters who “replay an old family trauma as though it were a ritualized game,” says L.A. Times Theater Critic, Charles McNulty.

Going into the play most of us had no idea what to expect. The front cover of the playbill resembled something similar to an advertisement for Hairspray or Grease… something more vibrant than an old cottage in a fishing village in Ireland. I suppose that was the idea. The two eldest sisters, Breda and Clara, continuously tell the same precautionary tale of love-lost to their youngest sister, Ada, whom they hope to discourage from leaving the safety of their small town. Ada eventually is given one chance for love and escape that is provided by the plays fourth character, Patsy, an unstable and goofy fishmonger. By the end of the play, Ada manages to have her heart broken in the moments following a whirlwind Elvis-esque tabletop performance by Patsy who is madly in love with her and then instantly overwhelmed by it all. Yes, folks. You heard that correctly.

We were fortunate enough to have a talk-back session with the play’s director and cast members following the performance. This helped to answer some questions about the production and the specific directorial decisions made. Perhaps the most beneficial comment that came out of the entire experience was when Lisa Pelikan (Breda) told the audience that each cast member had many questions about their characters at the start of rehearsals, but that Perrin-Flynn would never give them any answers. They needed to have their own personal discoveries and once they did, they would not share those answers with one another. This creates a very true-to-life dynamic in that we do not all go around telling one another what brilliant understandings we’ve had about our own lives. This is an great piece of advice for both the acting and directing students in this program!

Overall it was an interesting night that I felt very lucky to have shared with my friends. It was sort of like the Cahuenga Peak hike, but less exhausting and more perplexing… it most certainly will have brought us closer.


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