Our Current 2019-2020 Season:

Our Current 2019-2020 Season:

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Ripcord Cast Gets into Character by Facing Their Fears

Nancy Cooper, Margaret Gilkes, Jason Wilhoite and Mike Gingerella
Facing phobias in Ripcord  -- PHOTO: Paul Manoian
In David Lindsay-Abaire’s play Ripcord, adversarial roommates in a retirement home do battle.  Marilyn insists that nothing makes her angry, while Abby says she is never scared.  Each wants to get rid of the other, so they make the following bet:  If Marilyn loses her temper before Abby gets scared, she will move out, and vice versa.  When I interviewed the Farmington Players cast of Ripcord (October 4 – 19 at the Barn Theater), I asked them each of to reflect on what makes them fearful.
Question: What are you afraid of?  What do you do to address your fears?

Jason Wilhoite (Scotty) describes how the cast recently attempted an unusual team-building exercise.  Given that the play is named Ripcord, they thought it would be fun to go skydiving together!  As Jason admits, “I do have a fear of heights and will be COMPLETELY outside my comfort zone when the cast goes sky diving together.”  [The cast’s first attempt was postponed by high winds, but they plan another try soon.]

Facing one’s fears head on also seems to have helped Michael Rea (Derrick):  “Ever since performing [nude] in The Full Monty at the Barn a few years ago, not much really scares me. In general, I think putting yourself out of your comfort zone on a regular basis is really important for keeping those phobias in check.”

So too, Nancy Cooper (Marilyn) confronted her huge fear of bridges: “I have been completely freaked out panicked by being stuck on the bridge while waiting to renter the US from Canada. So three years ago, my nephew convinced me to walk across the river from Kentucky to Ohio to get to Reds baseball ballgame! I did it! So, I officially am no longer afraid of bridges.”

Mike Gingerella (Benjamin) takes a logical approach to facing – or avoiding – his fears:  “I would like to think that any fears or phobias that I have are well grounded in reality. For example, I will not skydive because I believe it is unwise to jump out of a perfectly good airplane!”

Laurel Stroud (Colleen) says, “I hate snakes and crime scene dramas about serial killers creep me out. … I don’t relish small talk with strangers, but I have learned to do it.” Similarly, Margaret Gilkes (Abby) admits, “I am a bit of an introvert and not much of a small talk person. I find it very awkward. I enjoy coming out of my shell on stage.”  

Tune back to the next episode of Playing The Barn, when I explore what makes the Ripcord cast members angry.

Ripcord has 9 performances at the Farmington Players Barn Theater from October 4 - 19.  The show is proudly sponsored by elder law attorneys Mall, Malisow and Cooney, P.C.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Ripcord Cast Takes Pleasure in Coping with Life’s Challenges

Ripcord cast members (L to R) Michael Rea, Nancy Cooper, Laurel Stroud and Margaret Gilkes
PHOTO: Paul Manoian

Like a skydiver pulling a ripcord to slow his own freefall, David Lindsay-Abaire’s play Ripcord derives its title from the same concept:  Sometimes you have to slow life down intentionally to break your fall and observe what’s going on around you.  The Farmington Players production of Ripcord (October 4 – 19 at the Barn Theater) features several long-time Barn members.  I recently asked them to reflect on some of the shows themes.

First Question:  Do you find it difficult to live in the present moment due to a busy life schedule?  How do you cope?

Nancy Cooper, who plays Marilyn, finds it “hard to live in the moment. Seems like I’m always planning what to do next, or getting ready for the next thing I have to do. So this year, I have really tried to apply mindfulness to my life. I try to allow each moment to be what it is and to enjoy or learn from whatever each thing brings. The years really do seem to go by faster as I get older, so I gotta stop letting everything speed by me so quickly.” Laurel Stroud (Colleen, Marilyn’s daughter) said, “It sometimes feels impossible to slow life down, every time I turn around another week has gone by. When the weather is nice I eat every meal I can out on my patio. I can take a breath and enjoy my little corner of the world. I also try to say yes to chances to be with friends.” Mike Gingerella (Benjamin) faces this challenge by “scheduling time for myself, and sticking to that schedule as much as possible. If you do not have a balance between what you do for a living and what you do outside of work, it will cause nothing but stress. I believe managing stress is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your overall mental and physical health.” For Marget Gilkes (Abby), it’s not a matter of slowing life down, but rather filling it up “with everything I love: family, theater, travel, and friends.”

Next question:  One reviewer wrote: “Ripcord offers a compelling look at the pleasure of a challenge and the challenge of finding pleasure.” —Time Out (New York).  My question is this:  How much of life should be a risk and how much should remain within the known bounds of what feels emotionally safe?

Mike Gingerella begins with the end in mind:  “Whenever I consider taking any type of risk in my life, I ask myself: ‘Will I regret not having done this when I am on my death bed?’”  Nancy Cooper enjoys “stretching my boundaries and trying new things. I like to feel a little scared when trying something new. A tad bit of uneasiness equals excitement for me. I can certainly see myself doing a lot of the things that Marilyn does in the play. I am really a lot like her.”  Similarly, Laurel Stroud considers herself an “adapter. I like to survey the situation from a distance. … We adapters are experts at keeping things within known bounds. But I believe change is healthy too. There was a day when auditioning for a play was a huge risk, and I’m so glad I did it. How much risk should life have?  Just a touch more than is comfortable.” By contrast,  Margaret Gilkes may be taking the title of the play a bit too literally: “As for risk, on September 27, I’m checking off my bucket list parachuting from 6000 feet!”

Ripcord has 9 performances at the Farmington Players Barn Theater from October 4 - 19.  The show is proudly sponsored by elder law attorneys Mall, Malisow and Cooney, P.C.  Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing boxoffice@farmingtonplayers.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.

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