Two for the Seesaw
Or: "Two for the Pandemic"
I was and still am so excited to have had the chance to perform again. I have never been envolved with anything of a "streaming" format. Its the new buzz word of the industry. So with "almost" all and sometimes "all" production work closed down in LA, I had this geat opportunity in Florida to rehearse and perform the most wonderful play: William Gibsons' Two For The Seesaw. What a way to close 2020 and what a wonderful opportunity for such a wide bae of people able to see this in 2021.
Two For The Seesaw has the most interesting backstage story. It's just two characters and Gittel is the most wonderful off-beat character: a dancer born and raised in Brooklyn whose between shows and meets up with a lawyer
from Nebraska. When they say the words "opposites attract", it was never more true than in this play. When it opened in the mi-1950's, it starred....are you ready for this? None other than "the" Henry Fonda and Anne Bancroft. Fonda was an established star. Bancroft had never been on Broadway. It ran 750 performances even though Fonda for some reason got clobbered by the critics and Bancroft who the producers were nervous about since she had never set foot on the Broadway Stage and a complete unknown...won The Tony For Best Actress that year. Now, the interesting thing to me is that Fonda fell in love with the Gittel character and they had not cast the role but with his maquee value thats what got them the financial backing to do it.
Then a few years later, it was made into a movie with Shirley Maclaine and Robert Mitchem...all in bxw....and since it was a movie they had more than just the two characters....but they kept the essence of the play....since the playwright got to adapt the script.
So you may think....was this updated for this 2021 production. NOPE! We did it under the direction of Anne Kraft just the way the script was written. .and the underlying story.....the passion...the fireworks....the dialogue works just as well now as it did then....people are people....like in the song thats in Casablanca:
I got to work with an actor that I have been cast opposite many times ( and we don"t even have the same agent): Peter Gutierrez is my co-star.....and I was so excited to be working with him and our director.....with Covid going on we rehearsed in Anne's home where she had the rehearsal space and she was right down the street from Eclipse Recording Studio who under the direction of Angie Bailey did a three camera shoot.
We met....we did a read thru....Peter went back to his home..I stayed here as well. I think it was a Thursday. We were to begin rehearsals on that Monday. Welllllllll..not so fast Annie Gaybis.....over that week-end upon Peter returning home ...his daughter...her three children and Peters' wife all tested positive for you-know- what..
I told him "Probably because you're so tall."
So for the next two weeks ....we zoomed with our director......we talked character...we talked motivation.....actually it was pretty great for not being there.
.....sooooooooooooooo now its two weeks later...all of the family members on Peters side were now negative.....so off we go back to Anne Krafts.. We rehearse that week. Anne had just recovered from a major hip replacment and was mentioning to us she still felt out of sorts.
.....welllllllllll! the following Monday.....we had been rehearsing for just a week of us all being in the same room...when we got there...she told us right out...they found something not so good ....the size of a golf ball that matazised on her brain. She was to be operated on the end of the week. You know when you go the dictionary and look up the word "trouper" their will not be anything written down it will just be a picture of Anne Kraft because right up to the night before she went in for surgery we rehearsed until 10:30pm.
.....Now because of co-vid..their was no asst to the director ....or prop people...or set desgner....just the three of us....doing this for The Palm Coast Arts Foundation who like most arts institutes had fallen on lean times ...The City Repertory Theatre was a co-sponser and it was underwritten by a patron of the arts Sam Perkovich.
.....But no theaters were open....hence the rehearsal space in Anne's home.
.....Anne, literally, left the key to her home so we could continue working there. So all the props and wardrobe pieces...everything was there ....just not our director...so with her specific directions we continued to work together....both of us had never experienced this....and their was no pont to call in a new director because she had directed us in all our stage movements and thought processing....
.....Our director had the operation. But needed rehab due to some physical movement that didn"t come back . She sounded terrific on the phone.
Peter and I didn"t kill each other while we rehearsed.
It was all workable under the circumstances.
....The following week or so she is back with us. We are delighted beyond words to see her back that following Monday....But ...after only one hour and I am telling you this woman has extreme stamina she couldn"t continue.
.....Soooooooo Peter and I get into the car I had and continued reading thru the scenes......Tuesday....the same problem....extreme fatigue but she didn"t wish to let the Foundation down or us....
....Wed morning..I get a text from her daughter Linda who flew in to be there for her...It read "Mom was feeling very bad this morning I took her to emergency and they admitted her into the hospital. She tested positive for Covid."
End of text.
I almost fell to my knees.
....Luckily, Peter and I at the suggestion of her daughter wore masks after Anne returned back to work with us. We were about ten feet away from her at the most...maybe nine....Since Peter and I were shoulder to shoulder....Peter went right in and got tested. I kept getting texts from the daughter urging me to test as well. Her daughter went and got tested too.
...You see what I mean about "Two For The Seesaw" our version was like "Too Many For The Pandemic"....well, to say I was a bit frazzled and numbed by all this since I thought how wonderful this is ....just the three of us working intently together ....what could go wrong??
... So for those of you who don"t believe in masks being preventive and protective.....I hope this story changes your mind.
Peter was negative.
Annes' daughter was negative.......and lucky beyond lucky for me I was negative too.
....As I said to Peter when we finished the last day of shoot "In a million years...would you have ever thought....that title of the play became our reality."
....and the beat goes on....