Today was the day we launched rehearsals for Emily Mann’s new play Mrs. Packard. Doug Langworthy here, the production’s dramaturg who has taken it on himself to get this blog rolling. At the Meet and Greet (where the director introduces the show to the company as a whole) Emily revealed herself to be a bit Jeckyll and Hyde on this show, given the fact that she’s both the playwright and director. In fact she joked that the playwright couldn’t make it to today’s rehearsal, but anyone who needs to speak with her should talk to her assistant (she has separate assistants for her separate personae).
The company introduced themselves.After the introductions, the cast trotted off to view the 1967 documentary Titicut Follies by Frederick Wiseman about life in a mental institution (Bridgewater State Hospital, in Bridgewater, Mass.). The film had been banned for over 30 years, and only recently has returned to circulation. Emily hopes that the gritty reality of the film and its unflinching portrait of mental patients would give the actors something hearty to chew on as they develop their characters. Having already viewed the film, I can vouch for the fact that the film is gritty—at one point a patient is intubated through his nose to feed him. But perhaps the most disturbing scenes are when the patients are dressed up and made to sing and dance to entertain the hospital visitors.
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