A Few of Brey's Favorite Things

Mon, 11/03/2014

Artistic Associate, Brey Ann Barrett, tells us what excites her most about Exile's 2014-15 season

This season at Theatre Exile, I will have an opportunity to see three of my favorite things presented to Philadelphian audiences.

In October and November, one of my favorite contemporary playwrights will start the season. Lucas Hnath’s play, Red Speedo, is just one of a collection that has me invigorated about the future of American theatre. His use of language and rhythmic structure is capturing the stream of consciousness of the 21st century. His characters are steeped in nuanced complexities that adhere to our desires to empathize without acknowledging the unlikable characteristics within ourselves. His dialogue is soaked in subtext through reluctance to speak or correcting what has been spoken. The writing is often accepting of omitted character and plot details which give it a more true sense of realism for a generation that moves too quickly for specifics to settle in. The rhythm of his work always has a sense of musicality to it that allows for one to feel the moods of pursuit and conflict. I look forward to Lucas Hnath’s writing being shared with everyone.

I, unfortunately, come from a family with a very severe history of weight related problems, specifically obesity. Being over 200 pounds is not as rare as it should be. I have fought with my body and my mind about what kind of person lets him/her self become that way. In my family, the issue has been driven through the dietary, physical, and mental – both compulsive and depressive. It is uncommon to look at the humanity of a person with such a grotesque condition.

Charlie, the main character of The Whale, allows us that opportunity. He is intelligent, kind-hearted, loving, and funny; however, he plagued with guilt, depression, and a need to punish himself. His slow pursuit toward a somber, self-inflicted death made me reconsider how I look at and react to obesity but more importantly, how I view others’ reaction to pain, sadness, and loneliness. I believe that Charlie will open many others’ eyes and hearts to a new way to sympathize and empathize with those that share this world.

My favorite play reminds me that there is nothing more socially challenging than to sustain a marriage. That is to say, that the standards of normalcy on marriage are often difficult to achieve. Edward Albee's infamous play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, does an incredible job of revealing what lies behind the curtain of a marriage that has spanned two decades. It may seem unusual for a young woman who is still in the early years of marriage to use George and Martha as the symbol of love, but I do. When I first read the play, I had been with my now husband for two years and I was still a teenager, unsure of what my future was going to be. However, the purity of George and Martha's love for one another in spite of the destructive ventures from their failures at life made me aware of the necessity to love as you can, knowing someone will be there to receive it. Albee brilliantly lines these two up next to Nick and Honey, who are so committed to American facade of marriage and family that they have fooled each other into believing that they truly love one another. The violent, vivacious, and vindicating world that Albee created captivates those who question what it is to create a normal family unit and what the American Dream is meant to be. For me, it is to love someone so much that normalcy does not matter and that the American Dream is for me to decide.