A Departure, A New Beginning for The Pollard’s Season 32
Season 32 marks a unique time in the Pollard Theatre Company’s history. For the first time in over 25 years, The Pollard will feature a different Christmas play this season, a temporary departure from their venerated Territorial Christmas Carol. The loss of company member turned famed Scrooge, James Ong, has shifted the mindset of this remarkable company. While they do intend to bring the show back to the Pollard stage, the hiatus this season will give the company time to redirect. According to artistic director W. Jerome Stevenson, “We have every intention of returning the production [of Territorial Christmas Carol], but we felt to produce the show under this cloud of loss and sadness would be a disservice to the audience, Dickens and Stephen’s [territorial] adaptation. While we have not decided when the show will return, it is our plan to restore the piece with new life and joy in the very near future.”
That redirection will reflect wholeheartedly in their creative work. Before the new tradition begins this Christmas, the 32nd season opens this August with the no-holds-barred An Act of God. The Oklahoma premiere of this bold play, written by David Javerbaum, features none other than God Himself, or Herself, as the Pollard is welcoming back Brenda Williams for the almighty role. Wanting to get into the unique head-space that the creative team is working in, OK Art Scene and Hurd spoke with Williams and director Timothy Stewart to discuss the upcoming production.
OKASH: What is the experience of performing at the Pollard like? How does it feel to be back?
Brenda Williams: Performing at the Pollard is like climbing into a comfortable pair of jeans. It is glorious to be back at my “home” working with my family. That is what it is like.
OKASH: In what ways did you try to make this role your own and make it unique to you?
Williams: Since the character is basically myself, I just trust myself and my director to make it fresh and new.
OKASH: Do you feel more connected spiritually since taking on this role?
Williams: Connected spiritually? No, not really. I would hope that if God came down, He would be as straight-forward and funny as He is portrayed. It would be great to see Him wagging His finger and calling us on all our crap.
OKASH: Do you have adequate study material to play God? How did you prepare for that?
Williams: My character is God playing me so the preparation was internal. We approached the show as such.
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OKASH: Have there been any specific challenges from directing this show?
Timothy Stewart: The show itself is basically a 30-page monologue. Yes, there are other characters with dialogue but the weight of the show is on the character of “God” and the actor/actress that is portraying the “Almighty”, in our case, Brenda Williams. It is a lot of story-telling that doesn’t rely on spectacle. It’s about the text and story that is being told, the dialogue.
OKASH: What do you want the audience to take away or feel when they see this show?
Stewart: I hope audiences come with an open mind and a sense of humor about life and religion and all that that may include. If they do, I believe they will have an enjoyable evening that will give them a bit of inspiration and something to think about. However, every individual person may take something different. It may speak profoundly to one, while be a “fun evening at the theatre” for another. Religion is a personal belief, different for everyone, and what one person may take away may be completely different from another.
An Act of God also features James Hughes and Dakota Muckelrath as Heaven’s most devoted angels. Hughes will also serve as Scenic Designer, with Michael James in Costume Design, Stevenson in Lighting Design, Stewart in Property Design, and Jared Blount in Sound Design.
The Pollard Theatre Company Season 32 opens with An Act of God, August 24th-September 8th, The Pollard Theatre, 120 W. Harrison, Guthrie. For tickets, visit thepollard.org or call the box office at 405-282-2800.