“It was a Tuesday night, our second full read thru, and we were at [producer] Aubri O’Connor’s house,” recalls Angela Kay Pirko, director of NuSass Productions’ spring show, Tony Kushner’s A Bright Room Called Day. “The play itself has some very – uh –active moments, and we were really getting into it, banging on tables and delivering lines at full volume.”
“All of a sudden, we see blue and red lights flashing outside. We open the door and there are six cops and a paddy wagon there, telling us they had a report of a domestic disturbance. These poor cops are standing out there expecting lord knows what and instead they find fourteen adults sitting peacefully in a circle who started laughing hysterically the moment they figured out what was going on. Must have been a weird report for them.”
This moment of levity contrasts strongly with the actual plot of the play, set in Germany in the early 1930s against the rise of the Nazi Party. Instead of focusing on the historical figures of the time, Kushner occupies himself with the life of Agnes, a film actress and wannabe Communist, and her various radical, artistic friends as they contend with the rise of Adolf Hitler to power.
“It was a very interesting moment for everyone” says O’Connor. “ We’d just begun all our research into the abuse of power in Berlin, like The Night of Long Knives and the storming of the KPD offices, working to find the parallels between the 1930’s, the 1980’s, and the present. So when the police came knocking on the door, it was easy to sort of let your imagination run wild. The laughter that came from both the officers and the cast when we realized the mistake was one of relief from both sides, I think.”
The story unfolds in its entirety in Agnes’s apartment in Berlin – and Nu Sass Productions has been exploring a new way to bring audiences into this sanctuary. This play is the first in Nu Sass Productions’ Small Batch Audience Series, plays that will take place not on traditional stages but in less traditional spaces around DC. This particular production will take place at Caos on F St, a space that has served as a theatre for Capital Fringe Festival in the past but which primarily operates as an art gallery. Nu Sass’s designers will be working to transform the room into Agnes’s very apartment – audience will surround the action in the small space, with the play itself unfolding only feet away from viewers.
A BRIGHT ROOM CALLED DAY
March 12 – April 5, 2015
Caos on F
923 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
Thursdays thru Sundays
Details and Tickets
“The story focuses so intimately on Agnes, we wanted to experiment with how close we could bring audiences in to her story – all the way into her home,” says Pirko.
Currently, the cast is midway through rehearsals, hard at work to bring Kushner’s dark and haunting drama to life in the unconventional space. Pirko assures us that the police have not had to visit again, and that the local force will certainly be kept up to date about the progress of the show, albeit hopefully without the call from the neighbors to initiate it.
And the cops’ reaction to being told that all the original screaming and banging was for a show?
“They said we sounded pretty darn convincing – so they bet it would be a good show,” Pirko says with a grin.
A Bright Room Called Day by Tony Kushner . Directed by Angela Pirko . Featuring Karen Lange, Keegan Cassady, Amber Gibson, Aubri O’Connor, Erik Harrison, John Stange, Amal Saade, Charlene Harris, Marta Kotzian, and Hannah Sweet.
—-This article was reported to DCTS by NuSass Productions