We continue our Midtown International Theatre Festival Q&A and speak with not only the playwright of Until We Find Each Other (Brooke Berman), but we also asked the show’s director, David Winitsky some questions.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer / director?
Brooke Berman: Well, I’d always written stories, from the time I was a little girl. But I thought I wanted to be an actress. And indeed, I came to New York at 18 — and then to Providence, following Anne Bogart to Trinity Rep, at 20 — pursuing an acting career. But when I started performing pieces of my own writing as monologue material, Anne pointed at me and said, “Do that.” So then I was a writer/performer for about five years until writing really took over. I’d say, playwriting found me. I resisted at first. Then I gave in.
David Winitsky: In high school and college, I was a musician and a singer, even an occasional actor. I loved the energy and the artistry, but frankly I never had the concentration and individual focus necessary to be great performer. My attention always wandered, to the visual environment, to the rhythm of the show, most importantly to the audience.
After I appeared in a small show for a friend’s company, he asked me to direct Neil Simon’s The Good Doctor. As I sat in the director’s chair for the first time, it all became clear – this is where I belonged. This is where my roving eye, care for the audience and love of all the time-based arts came together. It’s a wonderful feeling, discovering your place in the world.
What is your show about?
BB: Family and faith. And the paths we choose, that ultimately lead us home.
DW: It tells the story of three Jewish cousins who share a profound psychic gift. One of them has reached a crucial milestone in a painful journey, and calls the others home to help her take the last step.
On a larger level, though, the play is talking about the many ways that we are connected to and responsible for each other. Brooke Berman, the playwright, elevates the cousins’ bond to mythical levels to investigate how heritage, tribalism, sensuality and feeling create our sense of home and belonging.
If you had to single out a quality between dialogue, plot or character, which one is the strongest in your project, and why?
DW: The characters are the focus in this play, the ways that they feel and respond to each other, they way they intuit each other’s thoughts. Brooke also does a wonderful job of creating supporting characters around the cousins who do not share their mystical gifts, yet are integrally connected to the unfolding of events.
What is the funniest thing that has happened, and what is the most frustrating thing that has happened so far during this experience?
DW: Well, there was the simple physical gag of a table collapsing underneath me during rehearsal, but that’s probably not it. I also remember cracking up when we went to do a run through of the show, we moved into places, started the soaring sound cue, and then Mara went up on the first line of the play. Brought the entire business to a screeching halt.
As much as I have enjoyed the festival, the limitations of resource and space have been a bit frustrating. The festival has to move 10 shows smoothly in and out of the Workshop Theatre Mainstage, and has to set a lot of restrictions to make the playing field fair for everyone. That leaves me as a director without some of the design-based story-telling tools that make theatre the multi-media spectacle that it can be. The way I’ve approached it is like yoga – I embrace the stresses and limitations of the pose and find the movement and flow within it.
Name one show in the festival you are planning on checking out, and why?
DW: Given the Jewish themes in my show, I’ve got to check out Can I Really Date a Guy Who Wears A Yamulke?
Until We Find Each Other
written by Brooke Berman
directed by David Winitsky
Playing July 20th through August 1st at the Main Stage Theater (312 W. 36th St., Fourth floor)
Tickets are $18 (Students $15) available at www.MidtownFestival.org