Mary Page Marlowe by Tracy Letts: How Six Actresses Portray One Ordinary Woman

Six actresses — from Tatiany Maslany of “Orphan Black” making her New York stage debut, to Tony winner Blair Brown — play the title character in “Mary Page Marlowe.” The play by Tracy Letts, opening tonight at Second Stage’s Tony Kiser Theater, presents 11 moments over 70 years in the life of an ordinary woman.

As I explain in an article on “Mary Page Marlowe” in TDF Stages, the play presented director Lila Neugebauer with a challenge: how to get the audience to accept six actresses as one character. A dialect coach helped, but one unusual move was encouraging all the Mary Pages to sit in on one another’s rehearsals and share feedback. “You were allowed to comment on other people’s scenes because it was actually your character as well,” says Susan Pourfar, who portrays Mary Page at ages 40 and 44. “Together, as a community, we created the backstory of this woman.”

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus showing the different Mary Page Marlowes. Not shown: Mary Page Marlowe as an infant (portrayed by a baby doll.)

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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