Gabrielle C. Archer Is A Woman Under Siege In David Heron's AGAINST HIS WILL
Gabrielle C. Archer has joined the cast of David Heron's Against His Will- The Staged Reading, and readily admits the character she will play is completely unlike anything she has ever done before.
In the production, which takes place at The New Vibe Lounge in Rockville Centre, Long Island on Sunday February 17, Archer takes on the character of Gillian Forbes, a beautiful, sexually liberated entrepreneur in Kingston, Jamaica who is accused by a male employee of having had sex with him without his consent.
When the young man - Daniel Bryan, played by James Duke Walker- elects to press legal charges against her, Forbes finds herself in the middle of a legal and societal firestorm, as the people of the Caribbean island grapple with the question -does an erection imply consent?
Heron's play, originally written and performed in his native Jamaica nearly two decades ago, has been successfully mounted in Canada and The United Kingdom as well. But with the rise of the #metoo movement in recent years, a revised and updated version of the script has been stirring controversy and a great deal of interest after a staged reading was held at the Billie Holiday Theatre last September to launch the 2018-19 season of the Frank Silvera Writer's Workshop.
Heron has subsequently been inundated with requests to take the staged reading production on the road, hence the remount slated for February 17.
Archer, who is new to the cast of the show, made her professional New York stage debut opposite Heron playing Virgilia, wife to his Coriolanus -in Shakespeare's Coriolanus at The Poet's Den Theatre several years ago.
When she got the call from Heron and he sent her the script for Against His Will, she couldn't quite believe what she was reading at first.
" To be very honest, my first reaction was almost to laugh out loud- not because the play is a comedy- far from it- but because the premise is so unusual, and my character is so amazing" she says. "I found myself really enjoying her."
"Here is a powerful, confident, successful businesswoman who is almost an alpha male. She speaks her mind, she goes after what she wants and she is completely unapologetic about it. She competes ferociously and equally in a patriarchal society, but without sacrificing an ounce of her femininity. She's as good as the boys but she's not one of the boys. And she knows how to use her feminine wiles to her advantage in subtle and overt ways. I find her truly fascinating."
For Archer, born in Paris to a French- Spanish mother and an African American father- and who studied acting at The Stella Adler and Terry Schreiber Studios, the play's unique take on the #metoo movement also makes it an extremely timely story to tell right now.
"I believe that all victims of sexual assault or harassment deserve to be heard," she says "And we have been hearing a great deal from the women who have been victimized, but not the men. With this nearly twenty year old play, David tapped into something years ago that we are only catching up to now. It's important that we hear a story like this from a male perspective because they are under siege too."
That said, Archer is convinced that audiences who see the production will come away with very mixed emotions regarding the guilt or innocence of her character.
"I'm not at all worried about being the woman under siege, because I believe the story gives an equal hearing to both characters at the centre of the drama. My character is accused of something that she absolutely does not think she did. It's not my responsibility to judge her. As an artist I have to find justification for her actions and uncover her truth and her humanity. Between black and white there are always shades of grey. And that is true about this play more so perhaps than any others out there right now."
Tickets to Against His Will- The Staged Reading are $30 and include a full Caribbean Cuisine Buffet Courtesy of Golden Krust Caribbean Restaurant.
Tickets are available at:-
The New Vibe Lounge is located at 60 North Park Avenue, Rockville Centre, NY 11570.