Martine Kei Green-Rogers is a Raymond C. Morales Post-Doctorate Fellow in the Department of Theatre at the University of Utah and the dramaturg for NOTHING PERSONAL and CLEARING BOMBS this season at Plan-B.
NOTHING PERSONAL by Eric Samuelsen takes me on an infuriating ride. Don’t get me wrong; it has nothing to do with the production or even Samuelsen’s crafty use of language. My fury has everything to do with the unfolding of the story and its subsequent emotional roller coaster ride.
In order to explain what I mean, and to illustrate how these harsh words are actually a great compliment, I want to rewind in time to the first run I saw of this play (October 6). As the dramaturg on this lovely production, I had the opportunity to sit in on a very early run of the show [after only 6 days of rehearsal]. The director (Jerry Rapier) had just finished preliminary blocking and character work when all the designers were invited in to see the shape of the production thus far.
At this run, I found myself with numerous questions about the play and the production. Aware that it was very early in the rehearsal process, I even prefaced my thoughts to Jerry with this quote: “It is sooooo early in this process so take most of these [notes] with a grain of salt. These are just the ruminations of a crazy woman and the journey I went on while watching/ the questions I found myself asking while watching.”
“I love Ken’s smugness and calmness -its a nice contrast with Susan’s frenetic energy. Its also sets an interesting tone.”
“What is that moment that makes her decide to open up to Ken?”
“What does Ken get from indulging her in these convos? “
One specific note I sent to Jerry is the basis for this blog post: “The mental ride Susan has been on makes me crazy. I feel as crazy as she feels!” I followed that with, “This has just gotten ridiculous – but in a good way – the savagery (mental and physical) of it all.”
The main theme of Samuelsen’s script brilliantly emerges. Essentially, in the process of attempting to “nail a President,” a woman was abused in the worst ways imaginable – mentally and physically – although it’s important to remember that NOTHING PERSONAL is more of an allegory than a history lesson; and in the end, we are to accept it as “nothing personal.” In a day and age in which we are asked to accept that this can/and should happen to someone in order to discover the “truth” is disturbing (you will know what I mean by “truth” after you see this production)! Taking the mental roller coaster ride with Susan by watching this show is heart-wrenching and downright disturbing.
I went to see the show again yesterday (October 20), which brought up many of the same emotions, this time heightened by more rehearsal time and the inclusion of scenic elements, lighting, costumes and props that did not exist at the time of my first viewing. I went on that roller coaster ALL OVER AGAIN! S o much so, that I wrote a note to myself saying, “Arrrrgh…I don’t know if I can do this with her again.” But I did. And I will again next Sunday. I may even be a better person for it.
I say all of this to remind people that the theatre is a beautiful and visceral art form. Some of you may watch this show and never come close to the emotional ride I went on. Some of you may watch and go even farther down the emotional “rabbit hole” than I did. However, it is a story, and a journey, I would advise you not to miss!
Eric Samuelsen’s NOTHING PERSONAL receives its world premiere at Plan-B Theatre Company October 24-November 3 with Kirt Bateman, Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin and April Fossen. Click here for more information and tickets.