BWW Preview: HOW TO TRANSCEND A HAPPY MARRIAGE at The Producing Unit
Prominent contemporary playwright Sarah Ruhl produces theatre that is weird, modern, and emotionally vivid. Last fall, The Producing Unit performed a reading of one of Ruhl's latest works, How to Transcend a Happy Marriage (directed by Peter Frisch)--a play about testing the boundaries of a "traditional" marriage. A married couple has a dinner party, and learns about the physical and emotional configuration of a polyamorous lifestyle from a new acquaintance, Pip, who is part of a throuple. In the past several months, The Producing Unit has turned the content into a fully staged piece, which will be performed at Center Stage Theater from January 25-February 3.
Ivy Vahanian will be reprising her role as George, a wife and mother whose curiosity is awakened by Pip's wild-and-free lifestyle. Vahanian is inspired by the journey that George embarks on, one that explores her sensuality and sexuality, and the depth of her relationship with her husband. "George is such a seeking person," Vahanian says, "and in some ways, [with the reading] I didn't get to fully seek." This production allows the performers to expand the production and embody the story in a fuller way. "[George] asks a lot from me in a very relatable and human and easy way," says Vahanian. "She's got this sort of uptight way of living, and then things get slowly unhinged and broken apart, and there's a bit of a mad scene, and then the asking of real truth. In a relationship, it's requiring the other person to see you."
How to Transcend explores the margins between physical, emotional, and spiritual connections, and begins a conversation about traditionally accepted romantic and family structures. "This is an important play for Santa Barbara audiences because it brings up for mothers--for fathers, too--how we can we get in touch with those deeper parts of ourselves so we can have a fulfilling relationship," says Vahanian. "How can you transcend a happy marriage? You transcend by going deeper." Though Pip's lifestyle doesn't adhere to the widely accepted family structure and timeline, her evident satisfaction with the arrangement allows George to examine her values and consider the potential consequences (positive and negative) of a fringe lifestyle. "The theatre offers an energetic exchange," says Vahanian, "and people are going to walk away from this play wanting to have a discussion."
Jan 25-Feb 3
Center Stage Theater