OPEN is a magic act that reveals itself to be a resurrection. A woman called The Magician presents a myriad of tricks for our entertainment, yet her performance seems to be attempting the impossible—to save the life of her partner, Jenny. But is our faith in her illusions enough to rewrite the past? The clock is ticking, the show must go on, and as impossible as it may seem, this Magician’s act may be our last hope against a world filled with intolerance and hate.
Written by Crystal Skillman
Directed by Jessi D. Hill
Performed by Megan Hill*
June 7 - 22, 2019
An interview with actor Megan Hill and Lana Russell:
In one word what is OPEN about to you?
You've had such an exciting year so far! I remember you telling me that many or all of the back to back projects you've performed in this year were pieces you have been deeply involved in the development of over some time. Can you tell us a little about those journeys and what it has been like to see these projects all come to life? It's been amazing. So often you'll do a reading or workshop and hope that eventually it will lead to a production and a production that you get to be a part of. There are so many moving parts and so much that goes into just getting a play to production that it's never a guarantee. So, I feel incredibly grateful to have not one but three shows this season that I have been deeply involved in (and passionate about!) all receive productions and I get to do them! DO YOU FEEL ANGER? I did the first reading of two years ago, EDDIE & DAVE we developed for three and a half years, and for OPEN we've done different readings, work sessions and workshops on and off for the past 5 years (I think it's been 5 years?). It's been an investment and this year was the pay off in getting to see these brilliant works come to life in full productions.
Any tidbits about your developmental process in OPEN so far and your relationship with Jessi/Crystal?
Crystal and I have collaborated on various projects for years. So, I feel like we have a very open line of communication and she trusts my input, which is very empowering. Crystal is the kind of playwright where she doesn't hold anything back and will get all the writing out of her system so it's there on the page, but she's not sacred about any of it, so then she cuts and edits and pares down from there. I remember there was one workshop we did where she brought in new pages every day and over the course of the week the play went from twenty some odd pages to over 50. Then we read the 50 pages, ordered in food, rolled up our sleeves and just slashed and inserted and moved things around. It was really inspiring because none of it was a waste. All the writing she did informed the story even if we didn't use it or broke open other aspects of the story that would have been lost otherwise.
This is the first production Jessi and I have done together but we've been workshopping OPEN together for several years. Her attention to detail and vision is so smart and thoughtful and creative and she pushes me and Crystal in so many great and new directions. I really respect her and am so excited to see her directorial vision for this piece fully realized (finally). She is such a great director and I'm really looking forward to being in a room with her again.
What have you learned from your character or this story?
That progress is slow. I wish I could say this play is a "period piece", but since we started working on it and since Trump has been in office hate crimes have gone up dramatically (never mind all the ones that are never reported). I long for the day when we could call this play a museum piece.
What is the biggest challenge of this role?
We haven't started rehearsals yet, so I'm about to find out!
What do you hope the audience experiences, learns or questions from seeing this play? I just want them to go on the ride with us and hopefully feel some things along the way.
At AFO, we are dedicated to the art of the solo narrative, what is the most exciting and challenging part of solo theater and performing a one woman piece?
Well, we haven't started yet. So, you'll have to ask me after we open. This is the first time I've ever done a full length solo piece and the prospect is pretty terrifying, to be honest.
Any other projects we should know about?
Not right now but I've been going non stop since December, so I'm looking forward to a little respite this summer.