‘The Fade and Flake of Aching things’ is one of the two short plays that Thespians Anonymous will present as part of the Spring production for 2020. It is a play written and directed by Anthony Herman, a young and enthousiastic theatre lover, who was happy to answer a few questions for us. It is always very interesting and inspiring for me to talk with such creative minds. Let’s read what he has to say about his play and his view on the role of director.
Q: What is the play about?
A: The Fade and Flake of Aching things is essentially a portrait of a marriage in turmoil. It takes place over the course of a single evening stretching out into night: it begins with the end of a party, which has left behind a mess. Marge and her husband Dan make meager attempts at cleaning up, but never quite get around to it. As the play develops, it becomes clear that the physical mess is but a fraction compared to the internal mess of their relationship that has gathered up over the years. Everything is so fragile that they only need a single catalyst to release all of the conflict that has been festering between them: that catalyst happens to be a photo album of their honeymoon. And so the marriage of Dan and Marge slowly deteriorates over the course of that night, and the question lingers: when unhappiness has ripped everything apart, is love enough to hold it all together?
Q: What inspired you to write the story?
A: This is the first play that I’ve ever written; I wrote it three years ago, but I only came back to it and edited it a couple of months ago. At the time when I first wrote it, I was obsessively reading the plays of Edward Albee and Tennessee Williams. The motif of broken marriages was very noticeable in both their writings, as well as 20th century drama in general. The inspiration for this play came specifically from the plays Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams. Both contained vicious fights and pleading desperations, all fueled by an outrageous amount of alcohol. I found the idea of trying to capture a majestic beauty that’s crumbled away over the years fascinating, and so i attempted to show both sides of the coin in my play: the unbridled joy of a fresh love that feels like it will last forever — and the deeply unhappy aftermath once that love has faded away, which can feel just as much like it will last forever. Exploring this dichotomy was the motivation that inspired me to approach such a complex and delicate subject.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you are facing?
A: This is my first time directing, so naturally I am feeling my way in every rehearsal and finding a natural flow to things. Thankfully, I myself wrote the play so I automatically know what I want from the characters and the dialogue. The largest difficulties I’ve had are mostly related to bridging the gap between what I want from the characters and how the actors identify with their characters. I find in these instances an open dialogue is always the best way to come to a mutual understanding. For me, talking through the characters is just as, if not more, important as practicing the dialogue; it is difficult to perform your lines if you don’t understand your character’s thoughts, feelings, and motivations clearly enough.
Q: What does directing mean to you?
A: In my eyes, directing is the process of transforming something that is forced into a natural and authentic experience. Dialogue is inherently unnatural: the actors don’t get to speak for themselves, they have to speak through the lens of their characters. It is the collaborative job of the director and the actors to find a way to express that dialogue naturally. Ultimately, directing is just as much of an art form as any other: directors bring to life that which is lifeless.