Infernal Bridegroom Productions cut its early teeth on some mighty heady material. Keeping that in mind, Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya seems like a natural fit for this always bleeding-edge troupe. Houston’s favorite actor, director, choreographer, song and dance lady, vintage clothes maven, Tamarie Cooper, has a new challenge at hand. She’s directing Vanya, with a stellar cast of IBP veterans. Cooper fills us in on this new IBP production.
Tamarie, you have such a wild and ravishing stage persona. When I think of you, many words pop into mind. Chekhov is kind of far down the list. What put this baby on your lap?
I knew I wanted to direct another play, so I began reading all the plays in my house and at the office, and stumbled across Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. IBP had done The Cherry Orchard many years ago, and I remembered being crazy about that play as well. I think Uncle Vanya is simply a beautifully written play. People think Chekhov is just about boring, complaining people–not true. The characters may say they’re bored, but inside they are suffering, aching, plotting, laughing, screaming, baiting, breaking, enduring, and living! What vitality! How wild and ravishing…
I know IBP has a long history having their way with classics. What’s your stamp on Vanya?
TC: No stamp. We are approaching the material sincerely and honestly.
Usually you are on the other side of the stage. What challenges you about directing?
TC: I hope to create a safe, supportive environment for the actors and learn how to communicate with each actor. Many of our actors come from different training backgrounds and different approaches to acting. I’m looking for a common language.
This is a dance blog, and you are a dancer, therefore, I am obligated to inquire as to your approach to movement in the show?
TC: I think my dance background comes into play regarding staging. My sharpened spatial awareness helps to create stronger, interesting pictures.
When I read the cast list, it just seemed to be a perfect Chekhovian fit. Was it that way for you too?
TC: One of the main reasons I wanted to direct this play is because of the actors available to me. Charlie Scott leapt out of my mind and into the pages of Vanya. I firmly believe that a large part of directing is in the casting. This a great group of actors.
What about this piece that makes sense for today?
Everything. Living one’s life can be terrifying at times. Heartbreak, feeling stuck, failure, loss, regret, shame, betrayal–all relevant.
What’s next on your artistic burner?
I will most likely be performing in some of IBP’s future productions, and I am creating a variety show, of sorts, to be performed in September. Yes, there will be dancing. As a matter of fact, I see this variety show as an opportunity to present some choreography that’s been kicking around in my head for quite sometime, without a venue. Of course, Tamalalia was all about the choreography, but it was usually limited to a very silly, cartoon-like, 1950’s grand musical style. This stuff may be a little weirder.
Uncle Vanya continues at IBP until March 25th, at the Axiom, 2425 McKinney. Call (713)522-8443 or visit www.infernalbridegroomproductions.org.