With a unique voice that charms, and a smile that lights up a room, we asked the delightful Tracy Newirth, WorkShop company artist known for her terrific work in Skin Deep (Jon Lonoff), The Guest at Central Park West (Levy Lee Simon), Right Sensation (Rich Orloff) and The Power and the Glory (Le Wilhelm) to talk about her new role as “Clara” in the upcoming Main Stage production of Through the Darkness (Alan C. Briendel) and directed by Leslie Kincaid Burby opening Thursday, March 9th.
Tracy says, “As an actor in the company as well as a member of the Board, I get to perform AND ask people for money – in this way both sides of my brain get exercised! And now let’s hear what she has to say about Through the Darkness:
What was it that attracted you to the role of Clara?
I read a bit of Clara at a Monday night writers’ meeting almost a year ago, totally by chance, and I could not get the piece out of my head. I contacted Alan (the playwright) and told him so, in fact. I went on to participate in the Sunday@6 reading of the piece last June, playing the other woman’s role (Helen), actually. They are both phenomenal roles, the writing is beautiful, but I confess a soft spot for Clara. Something about how she managed to remain open-hearted and grateful for kindness after having every reason to be the opposite really resonates with me.
How do you feel Through the Darkness is relevant today?
It might be shorter to talk about how it’s NOT relevant today, unfortunately. Even a year ago when I first read the piece, it felt evocative and powerful and beautifully written, but not necessarily topical. The second time I read it, during the election, it felt like a damn cautionary tale. Now… it feels downright prescient, I’m sorry to say. But in many ways, it makes me even more honored to be a part of it (and to hope, pray and fight like hell to make sure nothing like this ever happens again). The original title of the piece was Anywhere But Here… indeed, eh?
Is there a history of immigration in your family that is influential?
My mom’s side of the family is the Italian side, but my father’s side of the family were Romanian Jews. My grandparents, however (which is about as far back as I can remember on that side), were born in the US, long before the war. I need to have a good chat with my aunties to get more details, though…
What is the biggest challenge of doing this play?
Well, there are several! But without getting too much into the weeds, I will say this: I think we’re all feeling a certain weighty sense of responsibility being entrusted with telling these incredible stories lived by these incredible human beings (some of whom are still alive, by the way). I mean, how could you not, right? So, ok, we can acknowledge that, but we really also have to throw all that “importance” (or “reverence” or “earnestness”) out the window in a way and just find out how to truthfully tell these stories asthese people, not about them. I’m not Tracy telling you how I feel about Clara’s story, I need to just be Clara telling you my story. And give the audiences room to figure out their own feelings about it!
What would you like audiences to take away from the show?
I’d like them to feel they’ve seen some powerful theater. I’d like them to feel recommitted to speaking out against hatred and injustice of any kind wherever they may see it or even suspect it. And I’d also ultimately like them to feel hopeful for the future.
And then I would like them to make a donation to the Workshop Theater! 🙂