Karianne Flaathen is a member of the A2 Ensemble, and the project initiator of the upcoming Last Call for Theater production of The Typists by Murray Schisgal. We’ve asked Karianne a series of questions about her project to allow our friends to get familiar with this upcoming show. We are certainly excited about it!
The Typists is not a widely known play. What attracted you to it?
I was first introduced to The Typists through its companion piece The Tiger a few years ago. The Tiger is just so raw and compelling, with great humor as well as an underlying danger throughout. It’s a great piece, which deals with the everyman, his sense of failure (both within himself and from society as a whole), as well as the class difference between him and the female character in it. So after that, I couldn’t put the book down. I was further inspired and moved by The Typists, because it’s really a play that I think everyone, no matter where they’re from or what their social background is, can relate to on some level. I think that’s what attracts me to it, besides being brilliantly written! It deals with universal human issues – and what is really interesting too, is that Schisgal’s work (including these two pieces) was first produced in London in 1960. It then continued to be produced all over Europe, as well as Israel, before it finally made it to New York in 1963. As a newcomer at the time, he found it pretty much impossible to get in the door here at home, so on his way through London one summer, without much optimism, he handed in a couple of his short plays to a small theatrical group there. He was completely surprised when they contacted him almost at once telling him his pieces would be produced–and then they kept asking for more!
What themes in The Typists do you find to be the most compelling?
Oh, there are so many… I suppose the tragicomedy aspect of it is one part. The sense of having dreams and aspirations, but not fulfilling them. The sense of love and loss and trying to carve out one’s own identity while society and other family members’ influences loom large. Wanting to hide, wanting to get away, or simply just wanting something ELSE, but not knowing exactly what, or how to find it… Feeling paralyzed within society, just unable to move in any direction.
These are issues relatable to most people I think, or certainly to me!
What do you most look forward to when working on this play?
I think… all of the above! And also the physical aspects of the play, and really using the language. Exploring all the relationships – the one on stage and the many off-stage ones… It’s just a really juicy piece, with lots of layers. It’s a real privilege to work on this kind of material, especially with the caliber of people I get to work with on this particular production – the great team behind the scenes, as well as my co-actor, Drew Doyle, and then being directed by Rob Nagle. It’s just a real privilege all around!
What do you think makes this play relevant today?
On the dust jacket of the first edition of this play, The Typists is described as: “timeless in its vision of human suffering and aspiration” – I suppose that kind of says it all. It really is timeless, and will always be relevant in the same way Chekhov will always be relevant. It quite simply deals with the human condition of the everyman, with the ups and the downs, the tragedy and the comedy, love, laughter, tears and regrets – it never gets old.
Flaathen, performing with Antaeus. Photo: Geoffrey Wade
Is there anything about this play that poses a particular challenge for you?
Besides the whole thing??!! I suppose the aging aspect of it. The play moves through time, so finding the subtle nuances of the changing physicality that comes with that aging. When you’re not yet old, I think it can be easy to fall into a mannered idea of what ‘old’ looks and feels like – so trying to avoid that will be a definite challenge!
How long have you worked with The Antaeus Company?
I was first made aware of Antaeus when I moved to LA in 2006. Daniel Bess, who I went to college with, told me about the company and invited me to attend a ClassicsFest rehearsal he was in – I then attended two of his staged readings, and promptly came back to see more and more! I knew after that summer that this was a place I wanted to be a part of, on whatever level they would let me, so I got on their mailing list and nearly a year later I received an e-mail about forthcoming auditions for Classical Styles. Thankfully they accepted me into the class, and then I was asked to join A2 in 2008!
What do you most enjoy about the experience you have had with Antaeus?
The sense of community, and having an artistic base. That’s always something that was missing for me before. Acting is an unpredictable life and business at the best of times, so to have some kind of a constant in the midst of it all, and to be around people who know and trust your work, and you theirs, is invaluable! AND being able to work on some of the best plays ever written – whether through fully staged readings, or just sitting in the library among other actors whose work always inspires you – is just always a true gift!
Starring Karianne Flaathen and Drew Doyle, directed by Antaeus Company Member Rob Nagle. Performances run April 7th, 8th and 9th at 11:00pm, and April 10th at 2:00pm. Reservations are free. For tickets: www.antaeus.org