Interview with Paula Rich

Laurel Mill Playhouse raises eyebrows with Ruhl’s ‘In the Next Room’

by Nathan Oravec, Maryland Gazette

. . . Actress Paula Rich portrays leading lady Catherine Givings, one such sexually frustrated, corseted conservative whose life is forever altered by the invention.

Rich, too, was a fan of Ruhl’s script.
“I knew the play, and I loved it,” she says. “I auditioned against my better judgment, actually, because I live in Alexandria, Virginia, and it’s quite a trip for me. But I just adore the play. ... It’s so brilliant.”
And, she adds, strangely close to home. In the play, her character is struggling with her newfound role as a mother, and anguished over her abilities to accomplish the very basics, like feeding her child.
“Interestingly... I just had a baby girl,” she says. “So it’s true to character. I have an infant now. She’s 3 months old. And the play is such a different experience, having had a baby.”
When Catherine’s husband the device’s inventor, Dr. Givings hires a wet nurse to aid his wife, it creates an uncomfortable divide between them.
“The play is about communication,” Rich says. “It’s not really at all about sex. ‘Vibrator’ is such an eye-catching detail. But it’s really about intimacy after having a child and this couple probably didn’t have much beforehand. But that’s what it’s about: intimacy and communication.”
Rich describes the play as “totally innocent.”
“It’s about these smart people with narrow real-life experience,” she says. “And because of that, it’s charming.”
At the same time, she adds, the play does harbor some veiled feminist views, which peek out now and then in between the laughs.
“It’s almost a little bit biting in its criticisms,” she says. “[But] it’s not painful until you really think about it. It’s very clever.”
The chemistry created between the seven actors on stage and the director has been exceptional, says Rich, and well worth the drive from Alexandria.
“[Director] Michael [Hartsfield] is just lovely. . . It’s really a family atmosphere,” she says. “[But] it’s kind of strange, faking orgasms at rehearsals every day. We have a lot of laughs. Hopefully, the audience has as good of a time as we do.” . . . .

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Victorian-style marriage and intimacy (and electricity) found 'In the Next Room'

by Patti Restivo, Baltimore Sun

Set in the late 1800s, the story begins at the home of the well-to-do Dr. and Mrs. Givings, expertly portrayed by George Tamerlani and Paula Rich.

A young mother left alone much of the time, Catherine Givings suffers pangs of loneliness and insatiable curiosity when she hears bewildering sounds through the locked door that separates the treatment room from her parlor.

. . . Catherine Givings has been having trouble breast-feeding. Dr. Givings judges her milk unsuitable and hires the Daldrys' African-American housekeeper Elizabeth, played quietly by Nikki Smallwood, as a wet nurse. The two women bond through shared grief; Elizabeth mourns the loss of her own baby as Catherine laments what she believes is her inadequacy as a mother.

. . . All of the actors deliver inspired performances as the play progresses through a series of interesting developments. . . .  Ruhl's formal English and lovely contrasting symbolisms — light, dark, water, snow, science, and art — underscore a poetic innocence, lending demure charm to the intellectual comedy.

 

"Silver Spring Stage is proud to present The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler as a special benefit to the theater for 5 performances only this weekend May 14 to May 16. This exceptional celebration of women and empowerment will move audiences seamlessly from laughter to tears to rejoicing." Broadway World

 

Review of "Un-Natural History of an Old Town Wife"

by David Hoffman, DC Theatre Scene


Although a frankly feminist or maybe post-feminist meditation on the challenge of being female and free, and as a woman able to experience the surge of passion and creativity - "to run with the wolves" like a huntress yet also remain a wife and expectant mother - Duvall says that men as well as women have been "moved to tears" by the fierce candor and unvarnished feeling pulsing from this story of an affluent housewife Sylvia, her partly clueless yet her still loving husband Dan, her pre-Betty-Friedan mother Frances and her Old Town "society" friend the adulteress Kate. . . .  

But then Sylvia's friend Kate (a delicious but discreetly careful wanton of a woman played like a cookie loaded with arsenic in the hands of Fringe first-timer Paula Rich), in a character who would feel right at home in her Manolos in an episode of "Sex and the City,' as she vollies back: "But how can you stay together if you're screwing someone else's brains out?" . . . .

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"Under the Shadow of Wings," by Ben Demers, DC Theatre Scene

"With Under the Shadow of Wings, Ambassador Theater has staged a double bill of dramatic visions so vivid and absorbing they feel almost like lucid dreams. Springing from the minds of two Nobel Laureates, Karna and Kunti and Death of Tintagiles whisk the audience to a moonlit Indian plain and a cursed European village, respectively, where characters struggle for self determination and survival on the hazy edges of reality."

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"Ambassador Theater Under the Shadow of Wings," by Laura & Mike Clark, DC Showbiz Radio

Death of Tintagiles . . . featured 12 year old Misha Ryjik as Tintagiles, Hanna Bondarewska as his sisyer Ygraine, and Paula Rich as his other Bellangere. The story focuses on the attempts of an unseen Queen who wants to steal Tintagiles. Numerous aspects of the story are symbolic, and the symbolism is very much open to your own interpretation. Again, special video effects were played on the upstage wall throughout and were quite effective, especially as Ygraine was searching for Tintagiles. In this play, the costumes were more simple, which allowed you to focus on the story instead of the details. Acting throughout the two plays was sincere.

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Death of Tintagiles Rehearsal

from aticc.org, photos by magdalena pinkowska

Hanna (Ygraine) – Spiritual and symbolic. Lets you connect with life and death and it’s inevitability. About how to fight before the power takes over. Tintagiles is the final dream of the family. Ygraine is for life and fears death. Ultimately, the mystery of the family isn’t important. When the play is slowed down, it’s like a meditation and a maze of energies. Tintagiles is the last bit of life.
Paula (Bellengere) – Painful. The characters revel in pain and enjoy it. It’s how they live and there’s a certain sensuality involved.
Gavin (Guard) – Fascinating. There is a reason for the story being told. Death is at the end of life. The play is not about life and death so much as it is about losing what’s important. When Tintagiles was first sent away, that was a death of sorts. It’s about the death of innocence. The Queen is all powerful and could have killed him on his way there. Why are they fighting? Nobody else is there. Loss is natural. If you were tortured for 50 years, you would look forward to death.
David (Director) – Symbolistic. One of the first symbolic plays. Nothing is set and everything is open to interpretation. Symbolist theater is about the merger of emotions and energy, nothing is mathematical. It’s not show-off theater, it’s more grounded. A culmination of all aspects of Art.

In ‘Frost/Nixon,’ Actors Spurn Impersonations, Aim for Characters’ Cores

by Brian Trompeter, Sun Gazette

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Frost descends on Nixon in McLean production

by David Hoffman, Fairfax Times

The play came to the stage in 2006 in London and on Broadway in 2007 and was made into a 2008 film by the British screenwriter and dramatist Peter Morgan. Now it comes to McLean in a staging directed with deft talent by Zina Bleck. Bleck has been directing and producing since 1995, and her experience shows.

Review of Frost/Nixon

. . . Frost’s attractive girlfriend, Caroline Cushing (Paula Rich) was a busy girl, making nine costume changes. A key player in the research done for Frost was James Reston, Jr. (Jesse Baskin) who also semi-narrates the play. The real Reston conducted an educational pre-play discussion about his role in the interviews. Directed by Zina Bleck and produced by George and Cathy Farnsworth, “Frost/Nixon” plays on weekends through Oct. 2. Great show!

by Rich Massabny, Producer/Interviewer/Reviewer
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