Check out this video clip Q & A with the cast of Shooting Star. Hear what the actors like best about their characters.
PERSONAL PERSPECTIVES ON IMPERSONAL SPACE – The Actor’s Perspective:
At a glance, Shooting Star is a play about two people who have a chance encounter at an airport, but when actors Leigh Campbell-Taylor and Jim Hammond approached the play, each did so with an eye for the playwright’s underlying messages.
In addition to Dietz’s creative use of pauses and profanity, Campbell-Taylor said she admired the playwright’s ability to “consider one tiny microcosm of mistakes and yearnings.”
“More importantly, [the play] offers redemption—another chance. Such truthful coexistence of loss and hope is profoundly moving to me. And giving us a witty, sensual context within which to explore those themes actually makes it even more poignant,” she said.
Hammond said the success of the play is a direct result of the writing—not an easy feat when one considers the show runs 85 minutes and includes only two characters.
“It’s wonderful storytelling,” Hammond said. “Dietz has written two likable and complex characters whose comic and dramatic struggle will be recognized by many in our audience. This man and woman speak for many, and I was eager to help tell their story.”
Both Campbell-Taylor and Hammond agree that much of the strength of Shooting Star lies in the appeal of the play’s characters—characters whose traits are as remarkable as they are diverse.
Campbell-Taylor said she was personally moved by the “intensity of [Elana’s] love.”
“For Reed. For the dream of family. For ideals, friends, experiences. Heedless of personal cost, Elena loves. That takes courage,” Campbell-Taylor said. “Elena has an enviable freedom about her, and I think we all yearn for some degree of not living by the dictates of other people’s expectations. Plus, this way of being has a certain wackiness that’s fun for the audience. Now, Elena has paid a price and observers may want to help her find all the answers, but I think folks see that she’s forging ahead and will simply wish her well,” she said.
As to Reed, Hammond said his character’s appeal lies in the relativity of life’s struggles, specifically witnessed—at least from Hammond’s vantage—in Reed’s relationship with his daughter.
“In many ways, Reed is a lost soul, who finds in this encounter with a former lover a path back to all that matters,” Hammond said. “Reed is a good man struggling with many of the gut-wrenching challenges that life can throw at us. He faces those issues with a sense of humor and remarkable honesty that allows Reed to ultimately see himself and his responsibilities more clearly.”
Campbell-Taylor and Hammond admit to having their own reasons for being drawn to the show, but each says the true measure of the play’s success lies in the depth and breadth of the audience’s experience.
“George Eliot said, ‘It’s never too late to become what you might have been.’ Although Reed and Elena briefly retreat into a past that could definitely stand a makeover, they deliberately emerge from this encounter intent on moving forward in a way that can make them whole,” Campbell-Taylor said. “Our audiences take that ride with us and I hope they feel satisfied with our story and maybe a little unsatisfied with some story of their own—just unsatisfied enough to be prodded onto a truer course.”
Hammond added, “Most importantly, I hope our audiences enjoy an evening of entertainment, but also a story that is honest, relevant and insightful. I must also thank our audiences for what they bring: their humor, their own powerful and personal memories, and their willingness to take the journey with us. They have been the third character in our play. Bravo!”
PERSONAL PERSPECTIVES ON IMPERSONAL SPACE – The Director’s Perspective
Shooting Star director Jeff Adler wanted to focus on lessons learned from transitory periods and places. To Adler, the story of Reed and Elena is an explorative dichotomy in life choices—what happens when one clings too long to the ideals and goals of youth? And what happens when someone abandons those ideals, possibly prematurely, to instead embrace the status quo?
“Reed kind of let go of his ideals…he kind of sold out in one way. Elena thinks maybe she held on too long to her youthful passions and ideals when the world had continued to change,” Adler explains. “[The play offers a] look at what you missed out on and what you have done and need to be doing.”
To carry the message across, Adler said he wanted to create an atmosphere of “magic realism” with the Shooting Star set. On one hand, the set feels like a traditional airport terminal. On the other, Adler made choices to accentuate the surreal nature of coming to terms with one’s own past.
“Stylistically, I thought of the airport and the blizzard that has stranded [Reed and Elana] as a kind of magic realism. The script tells you ‘it snows’…but I wanted to make sure that it snows until they have concluded the business they need to conclude,” Adler explains. “It’s the same with the clock. It jumps ahead between scenes but runs in real-time during the scene.”
Adler acknowledges a personal connection to the script, specifically with regard to the character’s decisions to reinvest in their relationships with their respective children, but says the appeal of Shooting Star is in its poignancy to anyone evaluating their decisions and direction.
“Anyone who is going through a transition in life and going into the next stage, you have to wrangle your values and your dreams with what you want to do going forward,” Adler said. “What really attracted me to the script–there I am reading a play about two people who are sort of off-track but revitalize and refocus their lives.”
Within this revitalization and refocus lies the heart of the show: hope. It’s a message Horizon strives to promote with every new production.
“We have always been oriented to ensemble pieces. That’s one of the things that ‘Shooting Star’ offers,” Adler said. “Our plays also have hope, connection and positive change, and in this story the characters are derailed but they help each other move forward. I also think that in several of the plays this year, the characters look at where they have come from and use that information to move forward. A good example is ‘Shakin’ The Mess Outta Misery’.”
With all of that hope and positive change going around, you might approach “Shooting Star” with trepidation, expecting a “heavy, heady” night of theatre. But fear not, for, despite the central subject matter, the presentation of the play remains light and fun. It even includes a rain stick!
“It’s funny,” laughs Adler. “It’s a romantic comedy, but it goes deeper, and that’s a great thing.”