BWW Interview: Betsy Aidem and MAMA'S BOY at George Street Playhouse 10/18 to 11/6
George Street Playhouse (GSP) opens their 2016-2017 season with Mama's Boy written by Rob Urbinati and directed by The Playhouse's Producing Artistic Director, David Saint. The show will be on the New Brunswick stage from October 18th to November 6th. This gripping family drama illuminates history with a close look at the Oswald family. Marguerite Oswald was domineering, obsessive and desperate in her need to be loved by her younger son, Lee Harvey. Mama's Boy is a chilling glimpse into what may have happened in the Oswald household during the months leading up to that fateful November morning in Dallas.
Broadwayworld.com had the fascinating opportunity to interview Betsy Aidem who plays Marguerite Oswald in the play.
Aidem's credits include George Street Playhouse: God of Carnage, Jolson Sings Again (under the direction of David Saint). Broadway: All the Way (opposite Bryan Cranston), Beautiful. Off-Broadway highlights include Celebration (Atlantic), The Metal Children and Mary Rose (Vineyard); Nikolai and the Others and Road(Lincoln Center); Crooked (Women's Project); Stone Cold Dead Serious (Edge); Steel Magnolias (Lortel); A Lie of the Mind (Promenade); Balm in Gilead (Circle Rep and Minneta Lane). Regional: ART Huntington, Long Wharf, Portland Stage, CATF Williamstown, Hartford, Dorset, etc. Film: Irrational Man (Woody Allen), Margaret and You Can Count on Me (Kenneth Lonergan), The Bleeding House. TV: Orange is the New Black, The Americans, Rescue Me, The Big C, Nurse Jackie, Law and Order (7). OBIE for Sustained Excellence of Performance, IRNE nomination, BWW Award.
We asked Aidem when she first became interested in acting. "When I was a freshman in high school, they were doing Shakespeare's A Midsummers Night Dream and I was cast as a fairy. Being in that show was the most fun and inspired experience. In my first year of college, I geared my academic interests towards art history but at the age of 18, I came to New York City to study at Circle in the Square through NYU."
Aidem now works as an Adjunct Professor at NYU where she team teaches a course in new play development with Jessica Hecht. She told us how teaching compliments her career as an actor. "Teaching helps you to articulate your methodology of breaking down a script. You're in an objective position for someone else to find the clues and hunt down the story. You can see the script more clearly without being so subjective; when acting, the lens of your character dominates. It helps me as an actress to serve and really hear the writer."
Even with all of her theatrical credits and accolades, we are impressed that Aidem continues to work to improve her acting skills. She commented, "In mid-career, I study to strengthen my voice and I continue to work with my acting coach, Zina Jasper."
We wondered if there was anyone in particular who inspired Aidem's career. "There are too many people to mention, we'd be here all week. I am very motivated by my peers, a fierce group of incredible artists." When she came to New York City in 1976, she attended her first Broadway production of The Royal Family. She was wowed by the likes of Eva La Galliene, RoseMary Harris and Ellis Raab.
Playing the role of Marguerite Oswald in Mama's Boy is another opportunity for Aidem to play a part that has historical significance. She had the role Lady Bird Johnson in the Tony Award winning play, All the Way.
We talked to her about her role as Marguerite. "The play focuses Lee Harvey Oswald's life in the context of his family and depicts his relationship to his mother, a woman who believed he was innocent and that the government was involved in a conspiracy to convict him of the assassination of President Kennedy. Marguerite had an indomitable will, was enormously resourceful with few resources, had a series of misfortunes and was missing a crucial piece of human equipment; empathy, that kept her from having the family experience she craved. But she was a woman who held onto her own truth against all the odds."
Aidem also commented, "Rob Urbinati did a great deal of research to write Mama's Boy and has brought so much life and ironically, humor to this story. The play sheds light on the event and that period in history. I think the assassination of President Kennedy is the great mystery of the 20th century. The Warren Commission was expedient but not necessarily thorough. This play is not about that per se or the government. It may shed light on the pathology of a lone wolf through the prism of Marguerite's eyes. Who are the people who raise a child who commits a horrific crime? It's interesting to see it broken down with the details and craft that Urbinati has created. The play also includes the characters of Marina Oswald and his brother, Robert Oswald. November 21st 1963 was a historic turning of the tides when we lost our innocence."
This is Aidem's third show at GSP and she has high praise for The Playhouse. "David Saint is such a dear and lovely person, so intelligent, knowledgeable and respectful. In the rehearsal room, you feel as though there is nothing you can't do, the sky is the limit. I am thrilled to be working with such a talented group of young actors in Mama's Boy
We asked Aidem if there was anything else she wanted Broadwayworld.com readers to know. "Beyond GSP, I hope we can do this play in New York City."
Mama's Boy will be performed at George Street Playhouse from October 18th through November 6th. The Playhouse is located at 9 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick in the heart of the city's vibrant theatre and dining district. It is easily accessed by mass transit and there is convenient parking nearby. For more information and ticketing and season's subscriptions, visit https://www.georgestreetplayhouse.org/ or call 732.846.2895.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Betsy Aidem