Sunday, April 23, 2006

INTERVIEW: Esther Emery

I chatted with the hard-working Esther Emery recently about her current project: director of Chuck Mee’s Limonade Tous les Jours for Moxie Theatre, temporarily housed at the Diversionary Theatre space. She’s still glowing after her recent Patte Award for directing Chrysalis Rapechild in association with Sledgehammer Theatre.

Cuauhtémoc Q. Kish (CQK): What attracted you to Limonade Tous les Jours?

Esther Emery (EE): I had provided Moxie several scripts that I wanted to do, but they asked me to take on Mee’s Limonade Tous les Jours and I’m so glad they did.

CQK: How would you characterize the way the playwright sets up the dialog between the two characters, Ya Ya and Andrew?

EE: You simply have to let go and trust Mee (the playwright). The dialog is set up without punctuation but it has a rhythm all its own. Ya Ya, the female character, speaks as a French woman. There is also very little stage direction.

Charles Mee speaks from his Wed site when he says: “My own work begins with the belief that human beings creatures...that we are the product not just of psychology, but also of history and of culture... I try in my work to get past traditional forms of psychological realism, to bring into the frame of the plays material from history, philosophy, insanity, inattention, distractedness, judicial theory, sudden violent passion, lyricism, The National Enquirer, nostalgia, longing, aspiration, literary criticism, anguish, confusion, inability.”

CQK: It seems like Mee bypasses the traditional in his plays?

EE: Yes; his structure is quite loose and you can’t assume that his play structure will even continue from one scene to another. As he says, his plays are broken, jagged and filled with sharp edges.

CQK: Is Limonade Tous les Jours autobiographical?

EE: Charles Mee is an older man married to a younger Japanese woman, so it would appear to have a biographical twist to it.

CQK: He’s also crippled (polio) and encourages directors not to limit casting to conventional physical types as well.

EE: Correct. He is a playwright that is well versed in other playwrights and has a sound knowledge of history and psychology, that is quite apparent in this text.

Esther Emery is a director, choreographer and stage manager. She’s directed local stories like Ruff Yeager’s Cool as We Fly, assisted Kirsten Brandt on several projects, and stage managed under the likes of Darko Tresnak and Jack O’Brien. She sits on the Fritz Theatre Board of Directors and her husband is Nick Fouch, who has worked the technical side for various theatres in San Diego.

CQK: Will Nick be working with you on this project?

EE: Yes; he’s our tech director. But I must tell you that Jo Anne (Glover) and I went to Paris to do some filming that will be another (video projection/back drop) element of the show.

CQK: Jo Anne will play Ya Ya and D. W. Jacobs will play Andrew. Arme Chan will play the third character of the waiter. Are they a good match?

EE: I can only tell you that we had an extraordinary reading of the play yesterday and both are very much up to the task. Both Jo Anne and Doug bring an element of restraint to their characters that works so well in Mee’s play.

CQK: The Media Release describes the play as a study of love as two wounded souls meet in a Paris Café. Do you have anything else to add?

EE: Limonade is a love letter to love. It’s a tour of the heart. It’s a meditation on loss and love.

CQK: How long have you been living in San Diego and where were you born?

EE: I’ve been in San Diego for about five years and I got the theatre bug when I was about 16. My dad sent me away from home for a short time and I apprenticed at a theatre. I was hooked, although I struggled through a few years of higher education attempting to be a doctor.

CQK: You have said that you are a lover of language and that you love to find different places of humanity; can you elaborate?

EE: I’m drawn to poetic language. I have a personal affinity to certain types of language; non-linear, beyond what you ordinarily would encounter. I like to “follow my bliss” and if I don’t like it I don’t do it.

CQK: Aside from this exciting project what other projects have you been involved in or will be involved in?

EE: I recently worked with Chita Rivera on her show and I can tell you that she is the genuine article; she displays such fine integrity and natural grace. I’ll be working with Rich Seer in Trying at the Cassius Carter and A Tongue of a Bird at the Eveoke Dance Theatre.

CQK: I wish you well on Limonade and in your future projects. If you had to pick between your painting, choreography, stage managing, and directing, which would it be?

EE: I look at my job as stage manager as inhaling and directing as exhaling. All four of the disciplines that you mentioned help me to encounter myself and allow me to be an artist.

It’s obvious that Esther Emery will continue to entertain us with her vision of art for some time to come and that’s a very good thing for San Diego. This artist is going places and we shall follow her like a wagging tail on a dog.


Post a Comment

<< Home