Backstage at Crimes of the Heart

A Chat With Charlotte Gowdy

Charlotte Gowdy will direct “Crimes of the Heart” by Beth Henley in Watermark Theatre’s 2019 summer season. We had a chat with Charlotte about the play.

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Q: What excites you about the play Crimes of the Heart?
CG: So many things! I love the nuance and subtext of Henley’s writing and the rich history embedded in the relationships between characters. I am also excited by the Southern gothic setting of the play (Mississippi 1970’s) where a lazy, cheerful surface is intensified by an underbelly of explosive desire, deception, desperation and drama. This play has a wonderful mix of comedy and tragedy. I love that the characters can laugh even in the darkest moments. The play has a huge heart.
 

Q: What does the play say about sisterhood?
CG:The bond between the sisters in this play is immensely powerful, and I think it’s what keeps each of them from going off the deep end! Babe, Meg and Lenora are each so different in personality & lifestyle, but their shared history, and being together in times of crisis, serves to empower and embolden them. Of course, they fight and argue, and things are not easy between them, but there is a strength in their bond that is beyond words. It is full of love and optimism. I have been so fortunate in my own life to have experienced the powerful and uplifting force of sisterhood and female friendship. This play celebrates that force.

Q: How does the intimacy of the Watermark help or hinder the play?
CG: Well, the intimacy of the Watermark space will definitely help the actors embrace nuance, subtlety and depth of emotion. So, for the audience the experience will be very immersive and personal. I hope the audience feels like a fly on the wall of a very private, domestic scenario.
In terms of the set, the intimacy of the space is a bit of a challenge. In the original script the setting is described as a “spacious kitchen” with four doorways leading to different parts of the house, plus kitchen appliances (fridge, stove, sink, cupboards), plus a small bed in one corner, plus a kitchen table with chairs etc. So finding enough room on stage for actors to move around all the furniture is proving to be a fun challenge!

Q: What other challenges do you think this play presents?
CG It’s a slow burn. In this day and age, when people are accustomed to being overstimulated by technology and fast-paced entertainment, the play asks the audience to slow down and appreciate the depth of soul in each character and the subtle details of the plot. It asks the audience to appreciate the small things in life and the importance of family and resilience in the face of adversity. That said, with our amazingly talented actors, I am certain the audience will have no difficulty being drawn in to the drama!

Q: How does the play touch you emotionally?
CG: My heart aches for each of the sisters. They have faced immense tragedy in their young lives and still, they move forward, coping as best they can, and with a wonderful sense of humour. It’s inspiring! I am also deeply charmed by the men in the play. They are good men, enamoured by the sisters, and doing their best to help. At its core, the play looks at the complexities of being human, and of being a woman in a man’s world. This is not only relatable to me but also particularly relevant to everyone in the world today. The heartfelt relationships reassure me that connecting with other people is the only thing worth living for. And that fills me with joy!

Warm-hearted, irreverent, zany and brilliantly imaginative, “Crimes of the Heart” teems with humanity and humour as it examines the plight of three young Mississippi sisters betrayed by their passions. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the play brings you into the Mississippi household of the Magrath sisters. Babe has just shot her husband because she didn’t like his looks. Meg is back in town after a failed attempt in the music business and a nervous breakdown. And poor Lenny – everyone has forgotten her 30th birthday…plus, her pet horse was just struck by lightning! Bad luck certainly runs deep among the Magrath clan. But with warm-hearted laughs and touching family moments, the sisters forgive the past, face the present, and embrace the future in this contemporary American stage classic.

“Crimes of the Heart” runs from July 5th to August 30th at the Watermark Theatre in North Rustico.

For more information, or to set up an interview with Ms. Gowdy please contact Andrea Surich at 902‐963‐3963 or generalmanager@watermarktheatre.com.

PEI Professional Theatre Network

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PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse
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