Time Flies

by Carlyn Aquiline, Literary Manager and Dramaturg
Anyone who hasn’t seen The Clockmaker still has one last weekend to do so, thanks to a formula of popular demand + snow that required us to extend the show. Performances are Friday at 8, Saturday at 5:30 and 9 and Sunday at 2. If you didn’t read Sloan’s e-mails with the links to the great reviews, here you go again:

Gordon Spencer, Pittsburgh City Paper          http://www.pittsburghcitypaper.ws/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A74725

Alice Carter, Pittsburgh Tribune Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/ae/theater/s_664959.html

Chris Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette blog                                 http://community.post-gazette.com/blogs/onstage/default.aspx

It’s hard to believe we’re at the show’s end—time has passed quickly. Before he takes off again for New York and future engagements, we wanted to touch base with Harry Bouvy once more. If the reviews have not convinced you to see The Clockmaker, then let me make a pitch that you see it for Harry’s portrayal of Heinrich Mann, the title character. Charming, funny, sad, sweet, poignant—he will touch you where you live. The memory of his onstage relationship with Frieda (Tami Dixon) will be one that will stay with me for a long time to come.

Harry with plawright Stephen Massicotte at the opening night party.

Carlyn Aquiline: So we’re about to enter the final week of The Clockmaker. And in keeping with the themes of the play, time sure has flown! What kinds of discoveries did you continue to make through the run of the show that hadn’t emerged yet in rehearsal?

Harry Bouvy: How funny the play is. You can never really know everything about a play until the audience arrives. While we knew there was humor in the play, I’m not sure we knew the degree to which people would find it funny. The laughter comes in many different forms, mostly out of the audience’s need to release the tension in the room because, let’s face it, there’s a lot of tension and conflict in the play. 

CA: The play is a puzzle for the audience to solve, and of course people solve puzzles at their own pace. What does the audience “feel” like from the stage for this show? Have you felt like there’s a moment, though, before the final scene when a lot of people have clicked and gotten it—have had the “aha” moment? Or does the puzzle pull them right into the final scene before they get the solution?

HB: It varies. It’s funny that you put it that way—what does the audience “feel” like. I often talk about how the audience “sounds” as the play goes along. The sound of an audience is sometimes as confusing for actors as the plot of the play is for the audience.  If the audience is silent during a moment that usually gets a laugh, you immediately think, “oh wow…. that joke really bombed.” But it can also mean an audience is really listening intently and simply aren’t as tuned into the humor of a particular moment. So it’s not always a bad thing that the audience doesn’t laugh. Sometimes you crave an audience to tune in more to a certain moment. The reaction of the audience for this play is very unpredictable; all over the map. I do think there’s a moment just about halfway through the play when the audience starts to piece together the plot, right around the time of the bench scene under the lights in the trees. There’s something extremely sweet and accessible about that scene where the audience is finally able to exhale a little bit and love the characters. 

On the bench, under the lights in the trees.

CA: One of the great pleasures of the production is the lovely ensemble work among the actors.  Can you share two thoughts about each of the actors you’ve worked with on this show, and the relationships you’ve developed with them: 1) onstage and 2) off?

Tami and Harry celebrate on opening night.

HB: Oh gosh, it’s hard to think of just one thing about each. I would say the same thing about all three of them on stage, and that is that they are extremely present. Tami, Joel and Daryll are all extremely focused and in the moment. I think that’s why it’s such a good ensemble. We’re all very much in tune with each other and the audience, and ready to shift gears at a moment’s notice. We haven’t had a lot of opportunities to hang out together offstage because of the stupid snow, but I feel like I’ve known these people for a long time. All three are easy to love. Daryll is a seasoned pro who knows so much about life in the theatre, and I love talking to him about shows he’s done. Joel is nothing like the character he plays on stage… I want everyone to know that.

Joel and playwright Stephen Massicotte sharing the love on opening night.

He is a dear, sweet guy and loves being an actor. He is very focused on doing his absolute best at every moment. Tami is a dynamo, running her theatre company (Bricolage). She is such a passionate, caring person. She loves the theatre and loves people. I just love them all. Love love love…. 

Harry (second from left) with the Clockmaker company, (L to R) Daryll (Monsieur Pierre), Tracy (director), Tami (Frieda), Joel (Adolphus) and Stephen (playwright).

CA: We’re scheduled to have a student matinee this week. What do you hope those teenagers primarily take away from the play?

[Unfortunately, the student matinee, which had been postponed to this week because of the big snowstorm, was cancelled once again—and for good—because of more snow.]

HB: Well, mostly, I just hope they pay attention. Student matinees are rough for actors, and not only because they’re held at the ungodly hour of ten o’clock in the morning.  Teenagers can be so… well… unruly, you know? And with a play like this, that’s all over the map in terms of tone, it’s hard to keep the attention of an adult audience, let alone an audience with the attention span of a Twitter update. … But it’s important to expose kids to theatre for that very reason—to expose them to the fact that there are issues in life worth their attention, worth their time. I’d like them to go away with the knowledge that time is precious. Fleeting. That life can be beautiful and sad and tragic and uplifting. I would say to them: sit up and pay attention. Grasp every moment for its worth. … I don’t know. Mostly I just want them to not talk while I’m up there. Is that wrong? 

CA: No, that’s not wrong. We all want them not to talk while you’re up there! Once a show has opened the actors have to maintain their performances and yet there is always evolution within that. How do you feel the show has grown since opening night?

HB: Speaking for myself, I’m not as afraid of the story, which is gut-wrenching. I’m willing to go to the depths of it. Also, when we first started, I was afraid the audience wouldn’t love the play as much as I do. I go through that with many of the plays I do. I fall in love with the piece, and I want the audience to love it too. I needn’t have worried about this play. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. The audience is moved by the play because it deals with issues we’ve all thought about. Also, Tami and I are a well-oiled machine at this point. It’s as if we’re the same person out there, very in tune with each other.

Mann and Frieda trying to solve the mystery of The Clockmaker.

I also think we’re not hitting it on the head as hard, you know? Less is more. Just speak the words. We’re not “sawing the air” as much, I think (to quote Hamlet). I don’t know that anyone would notice a difference if they saw the first performance versus the last one, but it feels simpler to me now, like we’ve gotten out of the play’s way.

CA: Have you heard anything that has struck you in the audience comments or questions at the talkbacks you’ve participated in?

HB: Mostly, it’s that people feel really good at the end of the play. I see a lot of smiling faces out there during the talkbacks. I wouldn’t have called this a “feel-good” show when we started rehearsals, but maybe I’m wrong about that. I’m satisfied that people have come to care about Heinrich and Frieda during the course of the play. They want to see them happy at the end. And while the end is bittersweet, I do think there’s a contentment in the characters that is extremely satisfying.

CA: In keeping with the play, what one moment will remain dear in memory about being back in Pittsburgh for a month and a half (I bet it has nothing to do with all the snow!)?

HB: No, definitely not the snow. Old Man Winter is a sour old puss. … There’s not one moment. It’s the whole experience. I’m so happy to have been around family and friends during the course of this play, especially because it’s so much about the connection between people. It’s about how people affect the course of your life. Here in Pittsburgh, I’m surrounded by the people who influenced me early in life. These influences continue to this day. I carry them with me every day, and will continue to carry them with me for the rest of my life. … Oh, and playing Barbies with my three-year-old niece. That was pretty darn great.

Keep up with Harry’s whereabouts at www.harrybouvy.com/. Hopefully, it won’t be long until he’s announcing his next return to City Theatre.

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