“Eight women. One night. A comedy about mourning.”
Yes, working with eight women—not to mention a female stage manager, lighting manager and sound manager—can be a challenge. Not always a barrel of laughs. A case of sometimes taking direction, instead of giving it.
But I was well-prepared, having directed Women’s Minyan in 2005. That play featured 10 women, who were sometimes at times at each other’s throats, and bitterly divided over the treatment of the lead character, Chana, who had been denied access to her children by a religious court. It was high drama, one that moved our audience to tears.
This time, happily, the setting is more sedate. We’re in the household of Tilly, a widow who is suddenly adrift at the loss of her husband but at loggerheads with her daughter, Suzanne, a near-alcoholic who resents the way seeming strangers have descended on the shiva house. Throw into the mix Tilly’s tart-tongued and bossy sister-in-law, Betty-Ann, her granddaughter Jessica, who resents how “no one ever tells me anything,” her newly religious daughter-in-law, Rivka, and her scheming mother, Carol. Add family friend Naomi, who resents Rivka’s arrival, and Mercy, the live-in help who tidies up after everyone, and we’ve got the makings of a family portrait. An irreverent one.
My job? Not to make sure they didn’t scratch each other’s eyes out. But to ensure that the eight women convey all the jealousies, feuding and love within an extended family, which everyone will be familiar with. I think you will enjoy Pillars of Salt, by Michael Ross Albert, and laugh as much as I did when working closely with these very talented women.
Pillars of Salt