Thoughts from the cast of “4000 Miles”
Emjoy Gavino (Amanda/Lily)
No Need for Name Calling, but…
An audience member after one of the matinees last week called me a “slut.” I am hoping she was referring to my character in the show. I’ve also heard the words “skank” and “hussy” after performances. I’m not offended by it; in fact, it’s proof they were paying attention. My character, Amanda, admits “I’m usually pretty slutty.” So it is actually in the text.
What I found fascinating when I first started working on this role was how her actions in the scene go against what she says and what an outsider would assume. When in rehearsals, [director] Kimberly Senior pointed out that each person in the show has moments where they are not truthful with the person they are speaking to. In Amanda’s case, I found that in projecting this persona of being wild and crazy, she is probably just protecting herself so she doesn’t get hurt. The scariest thing in the world is to be vulnerable with another human being.
There’s No Place Like Home
I have been lucky enough to be a part of the Chicago/North Shore theater community for the past seven years, but 4000 Miles marks my debut at Northlight. One of my first jobs after moving here was teaching for Northlight’s performing arts camp in the summer. I’m sure most of those then-third graders are now incredibly tall, well-rounded individuals with tumblr accounts and addictions to hazelnut macchiatos. It’s been awhile. Stepping foot into the Rice Room (the rehearsal space at Northlight) for the first time as a performer felt immediately familiar and surreal. And the staff, many of whom I’ve known since that first year teaching at Northlight and some who I’ve worked with at other theaters, have been so welcoming, that it really does feel like coming home again.
Caroline Neff (Bec)
There’s something deeply personal about all the people portrayed in this play. It almost makes me feel like a voyeur watching scenes. The design and the dialogue create this “fly on the wall” experience that’s so rare. I love that.
Josh Salt (Leo)
I think this show has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. My enjoyment is primarily based on the overall energy of everyone involved. Namely getting to work with Mary Ann so extensively. She’s such an incredible force of her own. It’s an experience I could never have prepared for and will never be the same after having.
Working with Kimberly was something so incredibly gratifying. I call her “the seatbelt” because she buckles you up tight in the truth of the moment and she’s not afraid to tell you what is fair game to play with and what is set in stone. And once she’s buckled you in to the text, you can just drive around like crazy because you know you’ll be safe if you go awry. It creates an extreme level of trust between actor and director, and it makes for a much more enjoyable experience all around.
I’m so thankful every day to be working with this entire cast and crew at Northlight. They’re a rare breed of people; an exceptional team with an amazing attitude. That really helps.
Our audiences have been so gracious to us as well. So many people have come up to me and said “Thank you” or “You remind me of my son” or “my cousin” or “my brother”. It’s quite a treat to be able to help audiences connect with their real life family and hopefully walk away with lots of questions for them and maybe a deeper degree of understanding for them.
I feel extremely overwhelmed and so happy to have been involved in this.
Mary Ann Thebus (Vera)
It is a unique challenge and pleasure and privilege to portray this real life woman who was so close and influential to the playwright and who is so rich in honesty and humanity.
In the weeks that we have been doing the show, I have of course been aware that many of our audience members are in the same age bracket as Vera (my character) and myself, for that matter. I have found an unexpected satisfaction in this because I know they are relating, in a very real way, to the issues my character is dealing with, with regards to aging and its special demands in a way that younger people are not … though there is plenty for younger people in the play also. Many times, patrons have come up to me to tell me about a similar situation that they are dealing with, whether it be hearing or bad knees or an unexpected visit from a grandson. It’s a treat.
Photos: Michael Brosilow