Following up The Glassblock’s recent partnership with the New Hazlett Theater, Recital will continue the tradition of publishing a preview, a review, and a video in partnership with the five performances in the 2017–18 season of the New Hazlett Theater’s CSA Performance Series. Now in its fifth year, the series offers viewers the chance to become a “shareholder” in supporting five evening-length performances by new and emerging Pittsburgh creatives — that is, choreographers, musicians, playwrights, and performance artists. Applicants who make it through the competitive selection process are given a stipend, funds to be used for technical assistance from a pre-selected pool of stage, lighting, and sound designers, and an equipment budget. The series represents an opportunity for the audience to directly contribute to new art while the artists have a platform to experiment and stretch beyond their previous efforts.
On October 26, Clare Drobot and Nathan Zoob’s Between Grace and Usmarked the start of the fifth season of the New Hazlett Theater’s CSA season. (Read up on the program here.) The play finds two songwriters, 33-year old Jacky and 17-year old Stella struggling to find themselves. Jacky, an immature and selfish adult who is recently estranged from his wife and child, returns to performing after a hiatus. Stella is trying to find her voice as a songwriter while navigating an oppressively religious home life.
To provide some context for the interview below, the pair do engage in sexual activity and while there is a form of consent, Jacky has lied about the existence of his marriage and his intentions. Parallel to this plot, Jacky is trying to reinstate a friendship with a long term friend, Annie (wonderfully played by Siovhan Christensen), by repeatedly showing up drunk at her house. On the last of these encounters, Annie, frustrated with Jacky’s behavior and selfishness pushes Jacky into a kiddie pool. Elsewhere, Stella reveals her encounter with Jacky to friend (and also admirer) Preston, who instead of supporting his friend, reacts negatively and childishly. The play (and the wonderful execution of the actors) presents these relationships in a manner that provides layers and layers of complexity, so please excuse the slightly simplified plot outline.