A guest post – and first in a new Addison Recorder series highlighting Chicago storefront theatre – by Leigh Yenrick. Leigh is an actress who has worked in Toledo and the Twin Cities, and who currently resides in Chicago.
This week we are taking a look at Profiles season opener Reasons to Be Happy. Written by Neil LaBute, the show is a sequel to his 2008 play reasons to be pretty, bringing us back into the lives of Greg (Eric Burger), Steph (Domenica Cameron-Scorsese), Carly(Sarah Loveland), and Kent (Dennis Bistro). All of them are in their middle aged years and trying to find happiness, whether that would be with each other or in the form of inner peace. I recently got to talk about the play with Profiles’ own Artistic Director Darrell W. Cox who directed Reasons to Be Happy.
LY: Why Choose Reason to Be Happy as the Season Opener?
DWC: It just seemed like the logical choice. Neil is a resident artist at Profiles and we produced “Reasons to be Pretty” in 2011. We also wanted to be the first to produce “Happy” post its World Premiere at MCC in NY. So, it all worked out.
LY: This is a sequel piece to LaBute’s reasons to be pretty. Do you feel it being a sequel does the story hold it’s own and how did you approach that as a director?
DWC: I think it does hold its own. The great thing about theatre is you can take the same characters and explore different themes–in a film you are expected to replicate the original, but, do it better. In “Pretty” Greg is dealing with the transition from boyhood to adulthood in term of his relationship with himself/others. In “Happy” he has moved on to ‘what kind of man do I want to be?’ and where that journey takes him. So, while the themes are similar in terms of tone they very much stand alone and you can enjoy “Happy” having never seen “Pretty”.
LY: This piece has quite a few tense moments between characters. Did you see this as a challenge? If so, how did you tackle this?
DWC: This is always a challenge. Acting is hard. And thus one of the directors jobs is to help actors find these things (pain/hurt) in themselves. When/and if that happens a play doesn’t feel like its repeating itself because there is a subtlety and nuance in a person going through a real experience.
LY: I saw from the program that this is your eleventh production with Neil LaBute, who seems to love working with everyone at Profiles. But why do you enjoy working with him?
DWC: Many things. First and foremost I love the way he approaches the work. We are vey similar in that way. We just want the best story possible. Doesn’t matter whose idea it is, what it takes, etc. So, there’s a huge amount of trust in our relationship. We also love his language and the way he fearlessly goes at telling a story. He doesn’t let his feelings about being misunderstood or disliked get in the way. And in that way we are very similar. And one thing many people don’t know is he has a BIG heart and is a great
LY: I noticed you did an understudy performance for this show. Have you done this before, and why did you decide to do one with this production?
DWC: We do that with every show. Understudies get the opportunity to do their own public performance. They work very hard and are an integral and important part of the process. So, it just makes sense to us.
LY: Lastly, as this is called UnScripted Moments, I would like to know which moment in the show you most connected with or the one that most speaks to you.
DWC: That’s a really good question. For me it is at the end when Carly gets upset and says what she did and then says this: ‘but, I’m looking for someone who wants me…not just my face, or my body, but me. Me and every-thing that goes with that. I don’t think Isn’t that all any woman is looking for in the person she loves? My favorite moment…..
Reasons to Be Happy will be closing this weekend so get your tickets before you’re out of time..
For tickets, contact Profiles Theater at 773-549-1815 or visit their website.