NORTH ADAMS -- Jackie DeGiorgis is used to being on stage and directing one-act plays on her own, but when the curtain rises on Mill City Production's "The Fourth Wall," tonight at 8 p.m., she'll be making her solo, full-length directorial debut.
"Last year, I directed our production of ‘Steel Magnolias,' but I had done that with Michael Grogan," she said Thursday. "It's quite interesting to direct a full-length play on my own. As an actress, you're really focused on one character and portraying it correctly. You're responsible for everything about that one character. As a director, you're responsible for all of the characters, the lighting, the set design -- everything. I have a lot more respect for directors."
The decision to direct a full-length production on her own came about for a variety of reasons -- strong support from Mill City President Liz Urban and a "lack of parts for middle-aged women," she said.
Her choice of A.R. Gurney's "The Fourth Wall," she said was based on her love of comedy; particularly physical comedy.
"I saw myself being able to work with the actors with this," DeGiorgis said. "Although I originally wanted to do ‘Harvey,' but we couldn't get the rights to it. Unbeknownst to us, it recently opened up on Broadway. So I started looking around at comedies and this one just struck me. I felt I could do it right."
The play, which is set in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1992, is the story of a
Growing uncomfortable with his wife's obsession and strange behavior; Roger sends for their friend, Julia (Liz Urban), who eventually deduces that Peggy believes her life is a play and wants to have her committed. Roger turns then to Floyd (Jordan Cohen), a local theater professor in hopes he can help Peggy bring her "play" to a close and return his life to normal. Unfortunately, Floyd believes Peggy is brilliant and encourages her to continue.
"It has a lot of comedic twists and a lot of Cole Porter in it," DeGiorgis said.
While not her original choice, DeGiorgis' predilection for the play continued to grow on a variety of fronts after selecting it.
"Since choosing it, we realized that A.R. Gurney is a graduate of Williams College and that his son is a student there now," she said. "I also love that it's set in the early 1990s and has a lot of witty political humor that is quite relevant to today's economic and political situation."
DeGiorgis added, "It also spoke to me in a lot of ways. It has a lot of references to Herman Melville's ‘Bartleby the Scrivener', which I remember reading as a sophomore in high school. In it, the narrator has a dilemma; he fears the man he has hired to be a scrivener for him is mentally unstable. Yet by the end of the story, he believes him to be quite sane. Bartleby also has an office that looks out onto a blank brick wall. I remember being 16 years old and having these emotional connections to that story and having those same connections with those references."
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