Death and Comedy in The Hummingbird’s Tour
November 18, 2015 - accent chair
A widower who has retreated from life. An trusting who performs good works of indeterminate usefulness. An almighty traveler sampling philosophies to feed her devout hunger. Fraught family dynamics inform The Hummingbird’s Tour, a decidedly Southern comedy in that 3 unequivocally opposite siblings confront their possess mankind — and that of their dear childhood nanny — on a attainment of a foreigner who competence be an illusory follower from a beyond.
Playwright Margaret Dulaney and executive John Augustine came into Manhattan from Pennsylvania — where Dulaney lives with her father of some-more than 30 years, musician Matt Balitsaris, and Augustine lives with his partner of scarcely as long, playwright Christopher Durang — to speak life, genocide and comedy.
How did Tour come about?
Margaret Dulaney: we wrote this play 20 years ago, in my 30s. Then we changed to a country, and we thought, “I never was means to find a director; I’m never going to find one in Bucks County, so I’m quitting theater. I’m going to start essay something positively different.” You can put something down for 20 years and afterwards when we collect it behind adult we think, “I shouldn’t have picked this adult until this second.”
You both live in Bucks County. Is that how we met?
John Augustine: We met Margaret volunteering during a voter booth. She’s unequivocally political, nonetheless in a nonconfrontational way. Then a crony told me she was a writer, and talented, and so we schooled of her in a area and eventually met at, probably, a cocktail party.
MD: It was a decade before we thought, “We should do a play together.” we had a seen a play that somehow non-stop a small museum doorway in my heart. A crony of ours has a private stable that she incited into a opening space — she got lights and sound that were being tossed out from Lincoln Center. So we motionless to do this lab prolongation and get aged friends of cave involved, a aged connectors from a theater, and they were all still in museum and peaceful to come from New York and L.A.
JA: The stable wasn’t as finished as it competence sound. It’s unequivocally an dull dairy barn; this cold male that used to do stone concerts when he was immature — he’s, like, 70 now — he’s a one that had put in a lights. It’s, like, a barn… definition unequivocally rustic, beautiful, unequivocally hip. And we unequivocally did spin it into a theater. we don’t cruise we bought any furniture; we were like, “Just move a crap from a residence and chuck it on stage.”
I listened a gossip a set now is from your houses.
JA: Chris, when he saw a uncover he said, “Is that a rug?” we was like, “You wish that was a rug. Honey, a carpet costs about $50. This carpet was [Margaret’s] mom’s. we have a feeling it’s about $5,000.” But a tables are from a house, a flare is from a house, a chair’s from my massage office…
Besides furniture, what else was carried from genuine life?
MD: Mainly we was conference my grandmother’s voice. My grandmother was a unequivocally engaging character. She had a near-death knowledge in her 30s — she clinically died in birth and had a genuine near-death knowledge and came back, and she from that impulse on was on this philosophical hunt to know where she had been. She embraced all these opposite philosophies and religions and finally landed on Rudolf Steiner. She had a kind of regal, interesting, roughly English approach of speaking, even nonetheless she was Southern, that had no snippet of a Southern accent.
Would she speak about her experience?
MD: She so indoctrinated a grandchildren in her approach of meditative that we never had a moment’s fear of death. She pronounced she couldn’t wait to get behind — it was like a outing to Europe, we know. She’d give we a ring off her finger and she would say, “Preparing to translate.” We’re all utterly gentle with a theme of death, very, and there’s a lot of comedy in my family around death. One of a cousins had these dual bum relatives and she had their poetic small wooden boxes done before they died! My mom suspicion it was only totally desirable of this cousin that she bought her parents’ coffins, had them done before they died, and used it as sweater storage!
JA: we didn’t know that detail. That would be fun in a play.
MD: Her era was only some-more gentle around a theme of death. we feel we have gotten reduction comfortable.
Why do we suspect that is?
JA: Back in Kentucky and Ohio [where Dulaney and Augustine, respectively, grew up], people died and they were laid out in their vital room and people were during home. Maybe there was a comfort around that. Your grandmother lived with you, and when she died we laid her out in a parlor. Now we have people die bending adult to machines in hospitals. It looks some-more upsetting to us.
MD: I’m a genuine expert of near-death experience. And there are so many some-more since unfortunately they’ve gotten so good during — some people are passed an hour, bad things, and are brought back. It’s awful that they’re pulling people behind from death. My friends all say, “If we wish anybody to pointer a vital will, get Margaret.”
JA: “Don’t tell Margaret you’re sick; she’ll try to send we over.” I’m a youngest of 8 children, so we responded to [Tour‘s] family dynamic, siblings entrance together and entrance home. This arguing in Margaret’s play we was captivated to — it always burst me up, 60-year-olds behaving like teenagers and cheering during any other a approach we do when we go home to family. You turn your 12-year-old self.
MD: When you’re in your twenties, we assume you’re going to mature.
The purpose a African-American nanny plays is a severe energetic to a contemporary eye. Did we have any concerns about how that competence be viewed?
MD: we did. we wanted this lady positively respected.
JA: She wrote a lady who cared about reading since her mom didn’t read, and it means something to her impression to know correct English, what she considers correct English. But it is an engaging plea in a contemporary understanding.
There’s no doubt such relations existed and were meaningful. You don’t wish to leave it out since it competence stun some people — or dispossess actors of tinge of roles. we did feel unsettled to be examination a impression who fit a eminent “Magical Negro” type, who takes caring of and teaches lessons to white people.
JA: It’s partial of a grace of those people who lived that life. And one contingency give honour to that time duration and not fake it didn’t happen. That is a sacrifice, if we wish to cruise of it that way, that a chairman of tinge made, to give themselves into a family, in a clarity — infrequently opposite their possess family. we cruise that is something to demeanour during and remember.
MD: If a impression were white, would we feel uncomfortable?
I don’t cruise so.
JA: In a Equity [listing] for understudies we put “Latina, Asian, African-American” — not white since we had white people on theatre and we only didn’t wish another white person. But since of a regionalism of Kentucky, Margaret unequivocally wanted it to be African-American.
MD: She was formed on a lady we knew, in my possess home, who ordered comprehensive honour from everybody who entered that house. She was conference her family’s voices 4 months before she died. we don’t cruise as nonetheless I’ve annoyed anyone. This male came a other day, an African-American man, and he pronounced that his aunt only died during 105 and a family she had nannied all showed adult and he finally got to accommodate them. And they were all in their 60s. He pronounced it was only bizarre. They were unequivocally distraught during a detriment of her.
It’s a partial of a story that of prerequisite creates people worried since of a continued inequities in a culture.
JA: It is an engaging question, a subject of what we paint in a work, what’s critical to remember or not remember or change.
MD: we have always created comedy about critical subjects. You have to change that so delicately.
Tone is so —
JA: Tricky. And it changes night to night with a audience, depending on how they feel. Paula Vogel wrote something — someone asked her how she writes a play and she’s like, “I don’t write a play, a assembly writes a play.” If a assembly comes and brings an energy, they are in a clarity essay their experience, since they’re bringing it out of a actors.
Working in museum takes bravery, confronting that assembly each night. What do we like best about directing?
JA: we have a lot of personalities, it seems. So as a executive we get to use all we do, my low-pitched ability, my comic, my drama, my writing, my acting. It’s fun for me to get to use all a tools of my personality…and not have to take remedy for it.
It’s a possess medication. The enjoyment of creating. Do we ever knowledge anguish while writing?
MD: If we didn’t write I’d be in some-more agony. It’s like visiting an aged crony that we unequivocally adore to visit. Since I’ve been operative on this play we haven’t been means to write, and we have unequivocally missed that aged friend.
JA: we customarily write small plays when I’m my many dissapoint or indignant or sad, nonetheless they come out funny. Usually my essay is an opening of unequivocally being pissed off politically or emotionally or during some viewed injustice, [but] we can’t contend it to a chairman or to a world, so we figure we can have a impression contend this. we make it a lady or a opposite age chairman so it frees it for genuine expression. [I wrote a] little brief play called Nicole and Jane about this narcissistic lady that verbalizes nonstop and her crony who she’s not listening to who’s grieving. And all my women friends, everybody thinks that they’re Nicole. we had to confess, “Actually, I’m Nicole.”
A supportive chairman will see moments she recognizes, emotions that ring true, and worry she’s a narcissist. A narcissist is not going to see it. “Oh, that impression was so hilarious. You’re so imaginative!”
JA: What we adore about this play — we cruise it would be unequivocally cold if she could get it published by, like, Playscripts, and afterwards let it go out into a world. we cruise it could have a genuine life in museum outward of New York, since of a age of a actors and a tone. And there’s no swearing, no nudity, no upsetting thoughts.
Unless we cruise genocide upsetting.
JA: That’s true. And people do, we guess.
(AN ENLIGHTENED ANNE O’SULLIVAN, SUSAN PELLEGRINO, RAY BAKER and LYNDA GRAVATT; PELLEGRINO: PHOTOS BY C.D. WILSON)