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Williamstown Theatre Festival

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Checking In With the Famiglia of the Fellowship Play

On August 14th and 15th, WTF audiences will have the chance to witness a play as homegrown as they come: Samuel D. Hunter’s When You’re Here directed by Portia Krieger, this year’s Fellowship Play.

The Fellowship projects, like the musical After Robert Hutchens WTF audiences saw last month, are commissions written specifically for our Non-Equity ensemble of 10 early-career actors. During the intensive Fellowship development process, an entirely new piece of theatre goes from an idea to a full production in an astounding 5 weeks.

Flower Sample Members of the When You're Here cast during rehearsal.
At the beginning of the season, Portia and Sam came to Williamstown with only the notion that they wanted to collaborate on a play that explores the increasing anonymity and transience of America- all set within the walls of an Olive Garden franchise. During a weeklong workshop, Sam and Portia met with the company of Non-Equity actors and began to build the community the play depicts from the ground up. By the end of the week, Sam had churned out a draft of the first act. Sam then left the festival to expand the script to its first complete draft. Just days after After Robert Hutchens closed, Sam and Portia were back at WTF to have the cast read through the latest draft of the script, and since then writer, director and actors have been tirelessly working together to bring the world of When You’re Here to life.

With the cast and creative team gearing up for the first every production of this new work, we have asked one of the actors to answer an imaginary Olive Garden job application in character. Here’s a sneak peak at one of the ever-evolving figures that populate the world of Sam Hunter’s When You’re Here:

Flower Sample
Harry Ford during the culminating read-through after the initial workshop week.
Harry Ford plays Eddie, the manager of the Pocatello, Idaho Olive Garden where When You’re Here takes place.

Have you been convicted of a felony in the last ten years?
I don't even drink let alone felonize, though I'm not even sure what would count as a felony nowadays. I guess that's a good thing.

What is your favorite Olive Garden dish?
The breadsticks. Hands down.

What previous experience do you have that makes you qualified for this position?
It's in my blood. That's good enough, right? I can handle anything that comes my way with a smile, a firm handshake, and a complimentary dessert of your choice.

What’s your favorite memory of interacting with a customer?
It would have to be a 5 year old's birthday party when I first started working here. Her name was Jackie, and she had probably 10 little friends with her. When it came time to leave, Jackie started crying because she didn't want to leave because she had "made a new friend." Me. She cried all the way out the door. When I got to work the next morning, I found Jackie and her mom waiting in the hostess area. "She wanted to have lunch with her new friend," her mom said. Totally worth coming into work that morning.
Flower Sample
Playwright Samuel D. Hunter and Director Portia Krieger look on as their company reads aloud an early draft.

Come out to see When You’re Here, the exciting new work by Samuel D. Hunter directed by Portia Krieger. It runs August 14 and 15 at 7 pm and 11 pm in the Directing Studio. Tickets are free, and the box office will begin taking reservations for the general public on August 11!

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