AnnMarie Snyder, Marketing Communications Manager of the John W. Engeman Theater, had a chance to sit down with Alan Souza to discuss his latest show, WAIT UNTIL DARK, running January 24 - March 10, 2013.
For those who aren't familiar with Wait Until Dark, without giving too much away, what's a quick summary of what to expect?
It's a bonafide thriller in the style of classic Broadway and Hollywood. A seemingly serene and familiar situation - a young couple living in Greenwich Village - goes horribly astray when they unwillingly get involved in drug trafficing. It plays upon our fears of our insulated lives being invaded by the crime that surrounds us all the time.
What were your prior experiences with "Wait Until Dark", have you seen the film or any stage productions?
I have only seen the movie of Wait Until Dark - but it has been awhile. I know the work of Frederick Knott (Dial M For Murder) and am always a fan of taking an old-chestnut and making it relevant and thrilling (pun intended) for a new audience. These classic plays allowed the audience to really come to know and care about the characters in a way that more modern plays tend to rush. I think it's satisfying to audiences to strap in and be woven through the personas and plot points - before they realize they're completely, breathlessly, and fearful-ly hooked as the story reaches its climax!
With a show such as this, will there be any challenges with staging and technical details that you will have to overcome?
Well, every play is a challenge in its own way. This particular play has only one location but with many props and lots of integral business, so that the audience follows each set-up as it plays. Even the way the space is set-up figures into the telling of the story. We have to make sure we leave nothing out, but at the same time make a fresh and vital version of this story and these people. Even if folks know the story, we will only have succeeded when the audience is engaged in every moment and at every turn.
As a society, we've become accustomed manufactured scares or grotesque movie scenes. Describe how this play will build its suspense. How might this be a unique viewing experience for a modern audience?
I think Knott builds on the fact that this might could happen to any of us. The fear moves from psychological to very real and palpable, without any of the graphic shock-value common in a modern-day scare. Hitchcock was a master of this same tactic. These characters are like ourselves and in no way expect what befalls them. That we might unknowingly become involved in a dangerous crime game and that our limitations might complicate the situation such a degree plays into all our psycholgical fears. The question of who we can trust in a moment of unexpected danger can be an emotionally charged one. Moreso if we ever think of ourselves as victims.
When the curtains close and the show is over what would you like the audience to leave with after seeing the show, what would you like them to be saying?
I think the greatest plays involve the triumph of the human spirit. This one certainly does, without giving anything away.
I would like folks to have enjoyed a good scare and to be feigning, with their companions, that they never were.
Alan Souza has directed six other shows for this Theatre. He recently made a
revisionist 10-person rendition of the musical Oliver, to great acclaim. He also directed
for New Jersey Repertory, Arkansas Repertory, Walnut Street Theatre, The New Theatre, Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Virginia Musical Theatre, Human Race Theatre Company, and the Texas Shakespeare Festival. He was nominated for the 2008 Carbonell Award and has received multiple Edgerton Foundation grants for his new works. He is in development with the play Scandal, by Emmy Award winner Treva Silverman, and the new play Something Vivid by Kevin Rehac.
For tickets and more information, visit: www.EngemanTheater.com