Direction Introspection

Below is a blog post written by Bernice Garfield-Szita, director of “I’m Not Rappaport” and president of Center Players’ board of directors: 

It’s wonderful if a director has the opportunity to bring a play to life that he or she can  feel a personal connection to and love the characters and words that the author has created to tell the story. Such was the case for me with “I’m Not Rappaport.” From the first time I read it, I felt the charm, range of emotions and complexity of the characters that made me laugh out loud or brought me close to tears. The unlikely heros, two charming, highly verbal men in their eighties, make us pause and rethink some of our stereotypical visions of the elderly and their relationships with family and the world  around them.  

I have been blessed with a phenomenal cast and crew who have worked tirelessly to

(From left) Ray Dothard as "Midge" and Ray Sammak as "Nat" in "I'm Not Rappaport."

bring this amazing play to full, glorious performance. We will be opening in two days and I believe we are ready to launch another very successful production for Center Players. There are so many factors that go into a truly artistic performance. Of course, there is the acting, which when done well doesn’t feel like acting at all but rather a glimpse 

into the heart and soul of a real person that we have had the opportunity to meet in a really personal way. The two leads, Ray Dothard as Midge and Ray Sammak as Nat, have reached a level of such male bonding it’s hard to believe that we are not watching two older cantankerous men sparring and supporting each other on the bench they frequently share in Central Park. We have two brand new actors on a stage for the first time, Anthony Woodcock, aged 16, who plays Gilley and Mark Peters, who plays Danforth. Both have made tremendous strides in learning stage basics and have confirmed my talent barometer for choosing new actors and teaching them the basics so they can do amazing work! Ricky Selterman, the Cowboy, is an experienced veteran of theater and has acted, sang and directed on our stage over the past several years. Although the character he plays isn’t anything like Ricky in real life, he stretches his skills to bring us this darker member of the park populace. The three women in the cast, Lisa DiLeo who plays Clara and the shared role of Laurie played by Danielle Capalon and Lindsay Wagner, add elements of gentle femininity and strong intelligence to their roles. The ensemble of the supporting cast work so well with one another, it really delights me to watch them.  

The set design by Cristina Peters which was constructed, painted and completed by she and her husband Mark, has surpassed my vision of the set that could hold the action of the play. I am so grateful for their attention to detail and creative work. It adds a wonderful dimension . Of course, we would all be in the dark with no sound or light without our very skilled designer, Mark Lamhut. I feel very indebted to our wonderful behind the scenes people, my husband Bob, Mimi, Joan, Colleen, Sandy, Sami, Ray R. Linda and so many more.  

I have directed many plays and each time I question my sanity the week before we open. Suddently, the “baby” is born and my mind moves to what the next challenging and fulfilling project will be! I am so happy to be in the Center Players community that encourages us all to do our best and forgives the imperfections that are inevitable in live theater and in life!

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One thought on “Direction Introspection

  1. Judy says:

    Fabulous photo and really beautiful Blog Bernice! I so get what you are feeling and cannot wait to share in our success! See you Sunday!

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