Theatre NOVA presents the Play of the Month series
A new play written specifically for Zoom each month
Premieres January 27, 2021 PRESENTS THE MICHIGAN PREMIERE OF
by E. M. Lewis
Premieres January 27, 2021
Available to Festival passholders through May 31, 2021
In “Whatcha Doin?,” a film student interviews a former child star turned voice over actor for a documentary project. Thrilled to witness Marnie's work-from-home recording studio in action, Raven is surprised to learn about the difficulties Marnie had while portraying the goofy, unattractive kid on a TV series, but even more so, Raven is curious about why Marnie is now unable to leave her home. “Whatcha Doin?” is directed by Theatre NOVA Producing Artistic Director, Diane Hill and features Kate Stark and Megan Wesner.
Theatre NOVA’s “Whatcha Doin?” Raises Thoughtful Questions About Fame, Beauty, and Post-Pandemic Life
“This month’s play, Whatcha Doin?, skillfully directed by Theatre NOVA Producing Artistic Director Diane Hill, starts as a matter-of-fact interview conversation between a film student and a former child actor. But as the play progresses, we are offered a deeper look at the cost of fame, and the reality that things aren’t always as glamorous as they might seem in Jacquelyn Priskorn‘s sweet, thought-provoking script. The play also deals with life during the pandemic, asking, what does going back to normal look like after all this is over, and will we necessarily want to?
As Raven, the exuberant and curious student looking for a glimpse into the life of someone whose career they’ve followed for a long time, Megan Wesner is a delight, managing to walk the line between charming and slightly, sweetly obsessed. Their excitement, mingled with a gentle understanding and genuine thoughtfulness gives depth to a character who could have easily been reduced to an awkward fan.
Kate Stark expertly portrays the cynicism and disillusionment that came with Marnie’s sudden childhood stardom, while also showing us the reasons she became popular, alternating during several different animated character voices during one short sequence of the play. We see her simultaneously flattered by Raven’s excitement, and also tired of it.
In the end, we see the characters form a sweet bond, and look toward the future with an optimism and hope that is inspiring. It makes our own future seem a little brighter, and our own resolve to face the “Ew, Dody’s” of the world a little stronger."
Reel Roy Reviews
“Beauty as currency. Or a weapon.” Whatcha Doin? – part of Theatre NOVA’s new “Play of the Month” series
“Not quite film, not quite stage, effective characterization has to break through the uncanny valley, remaining humanistic, yet not becoming flat. Stark and Wesner both excel, building a dynamic relationship in a brisk 20 minutes that is compelling, believable, poignant, and deeply affecting. To capture the ephemeral spark of unfolding friendship is tricky business on stage or screen, so it is a rare, almost voyeuristic thrill to watch Stark and Wesner’s nuanced work here.
With Hill’s expert direction, there is a beautiful embrace of the awkwardness inherent in online conversations. I haven’t really seen anybody capture as well the strange dance of smiles and pauses and sidelong glances that Zoom inspires. They nail it here. The script which is deceptively clever addresses the fluidity of identity in this modern age, supercharged as that can be across the bits and bytes of a computer screen."
Arts at Michigan Review
“Though I hate being on Zoom all day just as much as the next guy, this was a refreshingly creative break from the usual soul-crushing nature of staring at a screen.
Kate Stark plays Marnie, the child actor moved to stay in the entertainment biz through voice acting, and Megan Wesner plays Raven, the interviewer. There was a little bit of a surreal quality to the setup of the play, a pre-written interview between fictional characters delivered through a computer screen to an invisible audience. This feeling of layered disconnection fit well with the subject, though, as Raven interviews a woman miles and years away from her days on set, but whose mentality through adulthood has been shaped by that period. It makes us wonder which parts of our lives can outlast time; how much control we have over such an assignment of importance. Will all our actions made to establish our evolving character be fruitful, or will some long-dead part of ourselves always surpass new identities?"