We had a conversation with Artistic Associate Brynna Bloomfield and second-time Israeli Stage actor Bret Silverman about being in A.B. Yehoshua’s plays, playing siblings, and more…come see them October 23rd!
What do you most enjoy about working on A.B. Yehoshua’s plays?
BRET: I love the opportunity to step outside myself and inhabit the world of another character–his concerns, his experiences. The world(s) Yehoshua sets up are complex–they require a lot of thinking about my own life and applying that to the play itself.
BRYNNA: For now, I have to say that I enjoy the way he uses all kinds of family members to illustrate the range of human interactions. The conflicts are subtle, though, and require a lot of thought and soul-searching to fully understand.
How is your experience different in A Night in May from Possessions?
BRYNNA: Well for starters, Tirza (A Night in May) is more palpable to me than Eva (in Possessions) was. She is much less in control of herself, she still lives in her family’s home, she does not seem to have a life outside of that home. Eva was more contained.
BRET: The character (Ezra) I played in Possessions was in some ways more like your “average guy,” whereas Avi in A Night in May is, I believe fundamentally disturbed. Still, I find a bit more to relate to in Avi than I did in Ezra–I don’t know what that says about me, but there you go.
What’s it like playing siblings again?
BRYNNA: I’m grateful for it. I got only a little time to get comfortable working with Bret the first time around, and now I feel as if I can build on that relationship.
BRET: Brynna and I seem to have a natural sibling-type interaction. I don’t know why that is, but it made playing her brother in Possessions feel very natural, and with A Night in May I think we are taking it to a deeper level.
BRYNNA: Bret is also really helpful. I am a designer, and not a performer, but Bret does perform in his work. I’m grateful that he is so patient with me. He is a hard worker as an actor, insightful and curious.
BRET: Brynna speaks her mind and is quite open about her feelings. I love this because it means when we are rehearsing we can have intense discussions about our characters in the first person, i.e. “I think you are doing such and such to me and I resent it!” It’s a little like family psychotherapy.
What’s it like returning to the stage/acting for the first time?
BRET: When I was in high school I used to think I wanted to be an actor. I do not regret having chosen to be a musician, but having the opportunity to return to the stage has been a coming-home experience for me. This type of work wakes up a part of my psyche that feel very invigorating and alive.
BRYNNA: This is just a second first time really, but this time I am more aware of the parallels between designing for a play and acting in it. There is much of the same research and character probing. But also, the artistic process that I know informs me about the one I do not know. For example, as an experienced designer, I know how to differentiate between the ideas of the play, and those that I am imposing. Still, I initially put myself back stage for a reason.
Has Israeli Stage helped you better understand Israeli culture?
BRYNNA: Yes. Even though I have a lot of family and friends in Israel, I don’t go there often enough to feel familiar, even with my friends there. In the plays, what looks at first to be familiar to me, becomes alien as I begin to look closer. I think the lesson here is that Israeli culture is different enough from American culture but we judge Israelis by our standards and experiences, not by theirs. We tend to give other cultures more leeway because they look different at a glance, while Israeli culture is deceptive in its Western façade.
BRET: Yes it definitely has. Part of our rehearsal process is discussing Israeli history and culture, a necessary thing to understand the context of the plays we are doing. At each rehearsal I learn something about Israel that I didn’t know before.