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!”