JACQUELINE LAWTON: What excited you about directing The HUB Theatre’s production of A MAN, HIS WIFE AND HIS HAT? What made you say yes?
SHIRLEY SEROTSKY: I’m not so much a sucker for love stories, at least not traditional ones. What drew me in to this one is that it is a story about other people who don’t really like love stories: Voice, Hetchman, and even Hetchman’s wife. It’s a cynic’s love story. It’s also about how we process memory; how we hold on to our stories; and how we then pass them on to another generation. These are themes that I find compelling and always worth examining. It’s something I personally think about a lot, in my own life. And Lauren created a world that continually asks us to adjust how we perceive it. The rules are established, and then expanded, and then new rules are added. This is my favorite kind of theater.
JL: Can you talk a bit about your directing process? For instance, what is the first day like for you and the cast? Do you engage in certain exercises or rituals throughout the process? If so, what are they?
SS: I was sure we didn’t need to do much table work on this play, but then it turned out I was wrong. Establishing the way this unique and specific world works, at least in our production, has been a key part of this process. The first day (after the first read that is, which is about introducing the whole team to the play) was a chance for us to talk as a cast about how this play resonates with each of us personally, as well as from a character’s perspective. I’ve been happily surprised that this fantastical and other-worldly play also hits home in a really intimate, real way.
JL: What has been the most challenging/exciting part of bringing the A MAN, HIS WIFE AND HIS HAT to the stage?
SS: Achieving the stage magic the play asks for, on a small-theatre-company budget, is a wonderful and awe-inspiring challenge!
JL: A MAN, HIS WIFE AND HIS HAT blends a fantastical world with that of romance, heroism and adventure. What make this story relevant? Why should audiences come see it?
SS: I think it is both a unique love-story about these odd and unusual people and also a universal love-story for all time. The play reminds us to appreciate the people around us and to value the love we have, but also to keep encouraging the people around us to love us better, more honestly, more openly—and to do the same ourselves. And I don’t just mean in terms of romantic love--I mean parents and children; friends and colleagues; collaborators and partners; cats and dogs!
JL: What next for you as a director? Where can we follow your work?
SS: I’ll be directing a play by Ms. Jacqueline Lawton (!!!) herself at Theater J—THE HAMPTON YEARS--which explores the development of great African-American artists, John Biggers and Samella Lewis under the tutelage of Austrian Jewish refugee painter and educator, Viktor Lowenfeld, during their pivotal years at then Hampton Institute (now Hampton University). The play runs for most of June, and you can find more information here: http://washingtondcjcc.org/center-for-arts/theater-j/on-stage/12-13-season/hampton-years/
Shirley Serotsky is the Director of Literary and Public Programs at Theater J, where she directed the 2011 production of The History of Invulnerability; The Moscows of Nantucket; Mikveh (which received two Helen Hayes Nominations for Best Actress); and The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall (which received a 2009 Helen Hayes Nomination for Best New Play). She works as a freelance director in the DC area and beyond, and is particularly interested in the development of new work. Recent directing credits include: a 21/24 Signature Lab Workshop presentation of The Break (Signature Theatre); Working: The Musical(Keegan Theatre); Blood Wedding (Constellation Theatre); Birds of a Feather (which won the 2012 Charles MacArthur Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play—at The Hub Theatre); Juno and the Paycock (Washington Shakespeare Company); a staged reading of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo for the National New Play Network at Arena Stage; This is Not a Timebomb (The Source Festival); Reals, Five Flights and Two Rooms (Theater Alliance); Crumble (Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake) and We Are Not These Hands (Catalyst Theater); References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot (Rorschach Theater, for which she received a 2007 Helen Hayes nomination for outstanding direction); Sovereignty (The Humana Festival of New Plays); Cautionary Tales for Adults and the Many Adventures of Trixie Tickles (2007 CapFringe); LUNCH (2007 New York Musical Theater Festival & 2006 CapFringe), Titus! The Musical. (2009 Capfringe and Source Theatre). Training: BFA, North Carolina School of the Arts. Shirley was a member of the 2002 Designer/Director Workshop with Ming Cho Lee; the 2003 Lincoln Center Director's Lab; and was a 2001/2001William R. Kenan, Jr. Fellows at the Kennedy Center.
The Hub Theatre is an award winning, professional non-profit theatre making its home in Fairfax County, Virginia. The Hub Theatre is a member Theatre Washington. The Hub has received grants from Target, the Fink Foundation, the Arts Council of Fairfax, The Friends of Lake Anne, Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Arts Council of Fairfax, Integrity Applications, and Booz Allen Hamilton.
The Hub Theatre endeavors to produce work that highlights our common humanity, providing a theatrical experience that is at once challenging and inclusive. We strive to be the physical center of a dynamic circle of story, art, and community, to create the transcendent exchange unique to live theatre.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!