By Barbara Biddison
A new year. And I have something to look forward to.... the BREECHES connection. So I'm re-reading the play, and I'm actually letting myself picture it as a Hamilton-Gibson production. We've been looking at this drama for a couple years and we were not seeing a clear way to cast it. So, why not go for it now, when we must move ahead and we must believe in all possibilities? We have a "rack card" for 2022 and it includes the actual titles of stage plays that we want to produce. And one of these plays is INTO THE BREECHES, scheduled for April 2022. A recent quote from another Amanda Gorman poem says it well, "Those moments we missed/ Are now these moments we make." It's time to look forward, and I am so ready for that. It has been a while since I have felt like this.
Thomas is directing this one, and he has asked if I'd like to work with him wearing several hats including dramaturg (loosely defined, no doubt) and book holder/line giver. So that's why I read this play again today. It is even better now than it seemed upon first reading a while back. I laughed out loud a few times and I cried real tears once or twice. It seems to me to be a show for everyone.....women, men, gays, blacks, older and younger......in the cast and for an audience. Shakespeare aficionados will love it, but you don't have to know or love Shakespeare ("cast members" certainly don't at the beginning of the play). INTO THE BREECHES is set in 1942, and the men are off fighting the war, a premise that we remember as we watch the story unfold. I'm going to believe, I am believing, that this show will be on the HG stage in April.
I had a small part, sitting on a long bench after walking on stage and before walking off, in ALMOST, MAINE. It was scheduled before a pandemic descended upon us, and we were rehearsed and ready to go. Then we had to cancel, but Thomas told us to keep our learned lines memorized because we were going to do this lovely show as soon as possible. When "possible" arrived we had to replace about half of the entire cast because life had taken people elsewhere. We did the show. We were masked and distanced at all times when off stage. It was a wonderful enriching and empowering experience for the actors and for the audience. Somehow HG has managed to squeeze in a show here and there during this challenging time, most recently the mega-successful Woodpecker Lips. And now here we go Into the Breeches. There is something different about it this time, and I like it. I'm looking forward, and I find myself saying not "if" but instead, "when.' Not if we can produce this play, but when we do.
(Robert Panitzsch Interior with a reading woman in the sunlight by the window, 1936)