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Category Archives: Melancholy Play

Well, another show has come and gone. We had wonderful houses for our final weekend of Melancholy Play (we actually had to turn people away on Friday and Saturday, which we never like to do).  And now the chandeliers have come down for the last time. Is it wrong that after raising and lowering 5 chandeliers for every show, I never want to see another one again?

No matter. The main thing is that we had a beautiful play, and a great audience. Thank you to everyone one came out to see us! And keep checking back. We’ll be announcing the 2010-2011 season once we have everything nailed down, but I’m sure we’ll have some tidbits to distract you from doing your work every now and then.

After a great opening weekend, Lydia sat down with Melancholy Play’s scenic designer, Mac Young. Fans of Holland may recognize Mac as Derek in Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls and a Dark-Dweller in Kid Simple: A Radio Play in the Flesh.  They discussed making a living in theater, growing facial hair, and the overuse of the word “organic.”

Mac working on the set, sans shoes.

LA: You’ve actually acted with Holland Productions, but how you’re doing scenic design for us. Which came first for your, acting or design/tech work?

MY: As far as working in the theatre goes, acting came first; in highschool and more seriously in college. I’ve been designing and building things since I was a little kid, but it’s only recently that I realized I could apply that to the stage. Why it took me so damn long I don’t know. Nowadays, my money-making day job is in the theatre as well. (Of course, as anyone familiar with theatre knows, when I say ‘day’ I don’t necessarily mean ‘daytime.’)

LA: You’ve tended to play kind of wacky and unstable characters in the last two Holland Productions shows (Kid Simple and Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls). How do you feel about that?

MY: I feel pretty great, thanks for asking.

LA: What’s your process for designing a show?

MY: My general design process (this is the first time I’ve done a whole show) is long and organic. I know, I know, everyone likes to say their process is ‘organic,’ but I totally mean it.

I have my initial inspirations, but it’s quite a boon to me if I don’t have to go straight to the building phase. This is because my initial inspirations are pretty crappy. The germ of it will be something that excites me, but it’s usually overall flawed and impossible to execute. But, because I do get excited about it, it commandeers my brain for a while; I may not be sitting down at the drafting board, but whenever I have a chance to think, I’m thinking about the project. I like to stay busy and this helps with that. The idea improves a lot at this unhurried pace, and the practical solutions start to emerge. I decide on the right materials, test out the engineering, eventually arrive at math and drafting. By the time I need to start building, I’ve usually figured out my every move. The trick, of course, is to start early enough that you can do this!

I always love the finished product more than my initial idea. The details it gains in becoming real are the most interesting; they’re the things I couldn’t have imagined to begin with. The aspects of the idea that I have to cut, I don’t miss. If they don’t survive contact with reality, it’s usually because they were only superficially interesting.

LA: How did you approach Melancholy Play?

MY: We knew at the outset a lot of the elements we wanted: chandeliers, a mobile floor plan, etc. Those things could have been done a lot of different ways, though, so the job was to find the design and materials that would convey the right emotional tone. I really believe that materials, objects and places have an immediate feel — for example, I’m sure you feel different about natural fibers than about steel. Once I knew how I wanted (for example) the chandeliers to hang, and to fill up the airspace, I spent a lot of time sourcing old-fashioned manila rope and tackle from nautical salvage. I could have hung the chandeliers in the normal way, from steel cable, but it would have seemed like a concession to technical necessity, rather than part of the play.

LA: What’s been the biggest challenge with this show?

MY: Logistics. Getting everything I needed into the same room at the right time. I had to spend more effort doing that than I did actually building, and I found that frustrating. That kind of uncertainty, as in ‘where are we going to get that, and what will it look like when we do,’ leaves you with a lot of blank spots in your design — you need to start building with a lot of questions unanswered, and figure it out as you go.

LA: What’s been the best part of working on this show?

MY: Seeing my chandeliers under [lighting designer] Aaron Sherkow’s lights for the first time. I had intended for the chandeliers and the ropes to catch incidental light, but how it ended up looking was beyond my expectation.

LA: What do you do when you’re melancholy?

MY: Unlike certain hairdressers, I don’t get to take melancholy days. Besides, I’m more often phlegmatic, if not a little choleric. But when it does happen, I like to be alone and go somewhere outside. I admit, I have gone to the extreme of reciting Shakespeare at night, on a beach, in a storm. I’m with Sarah Ruhl on this; melancholy should be indulged.

LA: What else are you working on now?

MY: I’m over at the Huntington Theatre every night, as part of the run crew for Becky Shaw. I was involved in building it, too, so it’s been a long journey for me, one that has run parallel to Melancholy Play.

I’m also looking forward to doing another show with Imaginary Beasts, as an actor once again. Matthew Woods is a great director, with a visual eye I really appreciate. It might mean a few more marathon days for me, but I’ve offered to help with the design and build too.

LA: What’s your favorite nut?

MY: Just a coincidence, but it’s always been almonds for me.

LA: Anything you’d like to add?

MY: Apropos of nothing, I’m participating in 826 Boston’s Moustache-a-thon, which is a very clever fundraiser for a very clever organization. I invite you to check them out — they do a lot of good, and they do it with an appealing sense of humor. I teach there, and I love it. If you’re moved to chip in, the money goes to a great place.

See those chandeliers, and maybe catch a glimpse of Mac’s moustache, at Melancholy Play. There’s only one weekend left, so get your tickets now!

We’ve been putting it together this week at the Factory. The music, the lights, the set, the costumes, everything looks great! It’s amazing how a bit of blocking can be transformed by a simple sound cue or colored light. But see for yourself. We open tomorrow night (March 12) at 8:00 pm! You can purchase your tickets on theatermania or at the door (cash only). And we hope you’ll all join us for an opening night party at Symphony 8, starting after the show (around 9:30 pm). We’ll see you there!

Before the crazyness of tech week started, Lydia had a chance to sit down with Kate DeLima, who plays Joan, and try and get to the bottom of the Geico Gecko controversy.

LA: Tell me about Joan.Kate looking decidedly un-melancholy

KD: She’s a nurse and she really likes to take care of people, including her partner.  She especially likes it because she’s shy. Taking care of people gives her a structured way to be helpful.

LA: And she’s British.

KD: And she’s British, which is nice because my mother is British. If I get worried, I can always ask her for a little dialect coaching. She has in other productions.

LA: And is she proud?

KD: I think so!  She has mentioned that my Cockney sometimes sounds Australian.

LA: You know, I get those confused a lot. Like the Geico Gecko? My friends and I argue over if he’s Cockney or Australian.

KD: I should know that, but now I’m not sure. But you know who does have a great Cockney accent? Michael Caine.

LA: Well, Michael Caine is practically made of Cockney.

KD: Ha! Actually, according to my mother, that was a big deal in the 60s. He basically made a living playing working class people, and that was not the way it was done.

LA: Right, like Alfie.

KD: I’ve actually never seen it.

LA: Oh, you need to.

KD: Okay, I will.

LA: What else have you been in recently?

KD: I did the Boston Theater Marathon with Bevin, and I had to do part of the “Single Ladies” dance. That’s actually why I knew I wanted to work on Melancholy Play, because of having worked with Bevin. Other than that, I’m more often in musicals.

LA: How is the process different in a musical than a straight play?

KD: The process of finding your character is much more thorough in a play. You get to dig into relationships. Musical theater has more ingredients, it’s more technical. My next show, actually, is a musical: City of Angels at Longwood. It’s pretty much the opposite of this. A big cast and lots of music.

LA: What do you do to find a character?

KD: A lot of it is just trial and error. I like room to play. Also, especially in this case where there’s not a lot of text, and because it’s a short show, and not very self-revealing, you really have to trust the director. It’s great to be able to just do whatever Bevin says. She allows for experimentation and give and take.

LA: What do you do when you’re not acting?

KD: I’m a tutor ( I tutor middle and high school students. And I’m getting my MBA. I also have a dog, two cats, and a snake, so that’s fun.

LA: What do you do when you’re melancholy?

KD: I read a lot. My friend sent me a book, one of her favorites, which I’m saving for when I’m melancholy next. I lie around. Sometimes I watch bad tv. I’ve heard that there’s a tendency in humans, some sort of self-perpetuating tendency about sadness. I could be making this up, but we know to get ourselves out of it, internally. But instead, we choose to dig into it a little bit. Sometimes you need to play Whitney Houston. You can’t be melancholy when you’re listening to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

LA: Have you taken a Melancholy Day? Joan and Frances talk about taking those in the show.

KD: I’ve totally taken those. I’ll spend a lot of time in bed. I try to stay in my pajamas as much as possible. I may get dressed to go to the movies by myself. I’ll take the dog for a walk. I might cook a little bit. That’s a nice solitary activity.

LA: Are you someone who can’t stand for people to be in the kitchen with you?

KD: No, I don’t actually mind. I like the company, but my kitchen is so small, only one other person can fit! But when I’m alone, I’ll listen to NPR. “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” is a great cooking show. You can pay just enough attention while you’re working. And it’s not too heavy. “This American Life” is good too, if you want more substance.

Judge for yourself if Kate will make her British mum proud in Melancholy Play by Sarah Ruhl, opening this Friday (March 12) and running through March 20. Tickets available at

Lydia recently sat down with Alex Simoes, who plays Lorenzo in Melancholy Play. They discovered a shared love of Nutella and Top Chef (is this a Quick-Fire Challenge in the making?).

Alex as Lorenzo

LA: Tell me about Lorenzo.

AS: Lorenzo is a challenge. Like me, he’s struggled with finding his cultural and emotional identity. He comes from an Unspecified European Country. He’s an orphan. His mother abandoned him specifically saying he looked like an American when he smiled. So even though he’s European, he’s shunned it, just like he’s shunned a lot of his emotions. He doesn’t feel the suffering of Europeans. But he can be happy in the US. He’s a therapist, so people deposit and share their pain with him. Then along comes Tilly, who opens Pandora’s Box and he starts to feel those emotions again and realizes he also wants someone to deposit and share his pain with.

LA: How long did you work on the accent?

AS: Not long! Western and romance accents come easily, especially if they’re Unspecified! I actually kind of based it on Fabio from Top Chef.

LA: Everybody loves Fabio!

AS: You can’t hate Fabio! It’s the accent! People like accents. And like with Fabio, people fall in love with Lorenzo, it just happens.

LA: You were born in Boston, but lived in Venezuela during your childhood. You told me once that you always find yourself drawn back to Boston. Why is that?

AS: Yeah, I was in Venezuela from the time I was 2 until I was 17, so 15 years. I came back for college because I wanted to come back to where I was born. Plus I’m a Red Sox and Patriots fan. I’ve moved a lot, but every time I try to leave, some other project comes up. I’ve left 3 or 4 times, and every time within 6 months, I’m back.

LA: What is it about Boston?

AS: I think it has a great balance. I can do theater and I can work my computer gigs. People sometimes think there’s a ceiling here, and if you want to work in theater you have to leave, but there’s so much the city has to offer. Plus, I find places like New York and L.A. get lonely.

LA: Speaking of lonely, what do you do when you’re melancholy?

AS: I play guitar. Or I listen to music and stare at the ceiling. I’ve been listening to a lot of Beatles lately, and I really like trip hop. It has this great combination of anger and relaxation.

LA: What’s your favorite candy?

AS: I love sweets, but I’m more of a dessert and chocolate guy. I can just reach for a jar of Nutella and eat it with a spoon. Lorenzo eats marzipan, because to him it means something. It’s a root to Europe. But I don’t have a taste for it.

LA: Maybe you can talk Bevin [O’Gara, Melancholy Play’s director] into replacing it.

AS: Yeah, just that jar of Nutella and a spoon. Every now and then I’ll say how good it is in an unspecified European accent: “This Nutella is delicious!”

LA: I bet you could get a sponsorship deal out it.

AS: Maybe!

LA: What have you been in lately, besides Melancholy Play?

AS: I’ve been doing theater in Boston for about 7 years, so I’ve worked with lots of great groups. Commonwealth Shakespeare, the ART, the Publick Theatre, Stoneham. But lately I’ve been focusing on collaborating with people I find interesting and who I want to work with. Like Bevin, I’m very excited to be working with her.

LA: If you could be any inanimate object, what would you be? Katie said a book.

AS: I know, she took the best one! I think a musical instrument, like the guitar. That’s a good poetic thing.

See if Alex becomes the new spokesman for Nutella in Sarah Ruhl’s Melancholy Play at the Factory Theatre March 12-20. Tickets available at

This week, Director of Development, Lydia Anderson, sat down with Melancholy Play cast member, Kathryn Lynch. They discussed hair, nuts, and feeling blue.

Kathryn as Frances, feeling melancholy

LA: Tell me about your character in Melancholy Play, Frances.

KL: There’s a lot to tell. She’s tough. She’s a hairdresser and owns her own salon. But she’s someone who has become complacent and doesn’t know quite how to restart her life. To get a kick back in it. Tilly [another character in the play] offers that. She puts a name on complacency and make her realize she needs something more than she has.

LA: Do you have a regular hairdresser?

KL: I don’t have a standard place, but I’m searching for a good hair place. It’s kind of crazy hair. I can’t imagine people would come to my salon.

LA: I don’t know. You’ve got both blonde and curly, that’s like the Holy Grail.

KL: Believe me, it’s not.

LA: What else have you done in Boston lately?

KL: I understudied for All My Sons at the Huntington. And I was also in Love’s Fire with Exquisite Corps.

LA: How did you like understudying?

KL: It’s fun! It’s a lot of work on your own time. I treated it like a silent apprenticeship. I got to watch all these interesting talented professionals every day. To just sit in a room and watch Will Lyman is not an everyday experience for someone my age.

LA: Did you ever just wish an actress would get sick?

KL: A little, a little! But I had a good enough relationship with everyone that we could joke about it.

LA: Where are you from originally?

KL: The North Shore. I grew up there. I went to Western Mass for school [UMASS Amherst], and then was in New York. But I’ve been back since September of 2008, so I feel like I belong again.

LA: This play is all about being melancholy (but in a funny way). What do you do when you’re melancholy?

KL: Audition. If I’m melancholy, that means I’m probably out of work.

LA: What’s your favorite nut?

KL: I think almonds. Salted. They’re a multi-purpose nut. But I also enjoy cashews and walnuts.

LA: If you could be any inanimate object, what would you be?

KL: Maybe a good book. At least then you’d be visited and considered. It’s the closest to a living breathing thing.

See Kathryn and all her great hair (don’t believe her when she says it’s not awesome) in Sarah Ruhl’s Melancholy Play at the Factory Theatre March 12-20. Tickets available at

After an extended hiatus, the HP blog is back! Keep checking for updates on our next show, Sarah Ruhl’s Melancholy Play (March 12th – 20th at the Factory Theatre in Boston). Until then, visit our website, to learn about our previous productions, Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls and Kid Simple: A Radio Play in the Flesh.