Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of being a guest speaker for Talk Theatre along with two other young theatre artists in Milwaukee, Brandon Campbell and Michael Cotey. We each had the opportunity to introduce ourselves and our backgrounds in theatre. Then we discussed how we've been involved with Milwaukee Chamber Theatre this year, especially regarding the production of DUET FOR ONE and what we've taken away from the experience.
For me, DUET FOR ONE is a story about facing reality and finding a realistic way to cope with the pain and struggles that life throws at you. As an artist, I relate to the character Stephanie’s passion for music and the violin. And although something as drastic as MS probably won’t affect most of us, this play really examines the question of identity and how do you move forward if you can no longer be the person you’ve been in some vital way. What would I do if I had to give up theatre? I mean, I have no idea how I would cope with that. And actors and artists of any sort, like anyone really, all need to find balance in life and joy in other things like family and friends or other interests in life or else we’d go crazy - whether from failure and rejection when it doesn't work out, or simply from not having something else to escape to. When an unexpected factor like MS is the reason why you are forced to give up your art, that’s just so tragic and unfair. So I may not be able to relate to that extreme of what the character is experiencing, but I do think this play has an immense power to influence an audience! You don’t have to be an artist to fear what it would be like to have to forfeit a vital piece of yourself and then try to move forward and fill that void.
And one of my favorite things about the art of theatre is its power to speak to an audience and to move them in some way. There is such depth to both characters in DUET FOR ONE and they cover such a range of emotions and subjects that something is bound to reach each audience member, whether it is related to struggling with a disease, crushed hopes and goals, relationship struggles with parents, or the depth of love with a spouse, and even the question of faith and the value of life. This is a truly powerful play that I believe any audience member can relate to on some level.