BWW Interviews: Stark Naked Theatre Talks FAITH HEALER and THE GOOD THIEF

Photo by Gabriella Nissen.

Stark Naked Theatre Company is kicking off 2014 with two plays, Brian Friel's FAITH HEALER and Conor McPherson's THE GOOD THIEF, being performed in repertory. John Tyson is directing both productions. FAITH HEALER stars Philip Lehl, Kim Tobin, and John Tyson, and Santry Rush is reprising his role in THE GOOD THIEF. In the midst of their busy rehearsal schedule, I got to speak with all four artists about the two plays.

BWW: What was the inspiration for programming FAITH HEALER and THE GOOD THIEF in repertory?

Philip Lehl: Well, I think the simplest answer to that is that John (Tyson) proposed FAITH HEALER to us (Stark Naked Theatre Company), and as we read it, we fell in love with it. I certainly remember seeing Santry do THE GOOD THIEF before, under John's direction. I'd thought, "God, these two plays share so much tonality, thematically. They're both by Irish writers," and I know John or Santry had mentioned to us at one point that they had wanted to remount THE GOOD THIEF somewhere inside the loop. So, it just made sense in a lot of different ways. They were ready and willing to do it. [Looking at John Tyson] Does that jive with what you remember?

John Tyson: Yeah. We had approached you about the possibility of using your space when you weren't using it. We'd rent it from you to do THE GOOD THIEF. So, separately we had been talking about FAITH HEALER, and it was your idea to say, "Why don't we do them in rep?"

Philip Lehl: [Pointing at Kim Tobin] Probably her idea.

John Tyson: Her idea. [Kim Tobin Laughs]

Philip Lehl: Who knows. [Pauses] But it's just such a perfect fit. The two plays demand simplicity in their setting, and that is something that could be done in repertory. If we were talking about doing, I don't know, MIDSUMMER'S NIGHT DREAM and THE RIVALS in repertory, there's no way we could do it. But these plays, yes.

BWW: Because of thematic similarities, hopefully audiences will elect to see both works. What do you hope that audiences take away from the shows?

Kim Tobin: I think, in line with an aesthetic of acting being part of our mission, these plays demand attention to acting. I think that in that vein we're asking people to come watch acting and to come watch storytelling. That's what you're going to see. Our audiences have been very wonderful about that. They've constantly come and been excited about storytelling, been excited about the acting, and been excited about what we've given them in terms of really fun and relevant storytelling in terms of different kinds of issues to be put on the table. But these plays are poetic and very detailed storytelling, I believe, and have an even more complex and exciting... demand. That's not the right word...

John Tyson: But, that's what I was thinking though. Both of the plays are direct address plays, where the characters talk with the people that are in the room with them. They ask that the audience listen very carefully, think about what they're hearing, and make some decisions about what they're hearing. Especially in FAITH HEALER where the three characters talk about the same basic events, they contradict each other, and the audience is asked to think about, "Well, what does that mean? Does that mean that people are lying?" No, not necessarily. Memory is a funny thing. A lot of this is about what you remember and what you chose to remember.

Kim Tobin: And how you experience your own life.

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David Clarke David Clarke has had a lifelong love and passion for the performing arts, and has been writing about theatre both locally and nationally for years. He joined running their Houston site in early 2012 and began writing as the site's official theatre recording critic in June of 2013.

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